The answer is a giant YES! Wake that baby up. It’s not always convenient or pleasant; however, with feeding, you’ll occasionally need to wake a sleeping baby, no matter what your mom or grandma tells you.
Breastfeeding in the First Two Weeks
It is common for babies to lose weight in the first several days after delivery. We want babies to be back up to birth weight, or above, by their two-week well-check. To do that, you need to feed baby on demand (see responsive feeding post) and feed them at least every 2-3 hours around the clock for those first two weeks.
That means that if baby is sleeping and has been 3 hours since the start of their last feeding, you need to wake them up to feed them. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the surest way to be sure baby returns to birth weight.
Now, it is common for newborns to be sleepy and “lazy” for the first several weeks of life, and we want to make sure that they get the nutrition they need to grow. Just because your baby is sleeping, it doesn’t mean that baby isn’t ready for food. As the parent, sometimes you have to step in and remind baby that eating is essential, even if it means both of you have to be awake for a feeding.
Breastfeeding After Two Weeks
After two weeks, or once baby has returned to birth weight, you may ask your pediatrician if he or she feels it is appropriate for your baby to have longer stretches between feedings at night. If so, game on! You’re welcome to let baby sleep longer at night.
However, you still need to feed your baby at least every 2-3 hours during the day. A breastfed baby should be fed 8-12+ times in 24 hours until about six-months-old when the baby starts incorporating solid foods.
How to Wake a Sleeping Baby
The overall experience doesn’t need to be unpleasant. Start by rubbing baby’s head, cheeks, and feet. After that, you may begin your routine with a diaper change, leaving baby undressed to keep baby alert with the change in temperature or skin-to-skin. Some babies may take skin-to-skin as a sleep cue, so do what’s best for your baby.
Talking or turning on background noise can help. If the noise is distracting, the interaction alone can be enough to get your sleepy baby through a feeding.
The good news is that you’ll likely only need to wake your baby for a maximum of a month. After that, baby should self-regulate wake and feed times.