Parents with newborns can sometimes be surprised at how often they need feeding. Your new arrival has a tiny tummy that feels full very quickly, so for the first few weeks, newborns may need feeding every 2-3 hours. That means right through the night too, so it’s no wonder that new parents can feel a little sleep deprived.
Every baby is different, and it’s best to let them guide you on how much milk they need. Whether you choose to breastfeed, bottle feed or both, your little one will certainly let you know if they’re hungry.
Apart from crying, there are other signs that your child is ready for a feed. They may suck their fists, lick their lips, wriggle around or open their mouths looking for a feed.
The good news is that as they grow babies need fewer night feeds. By the time they’re around 4 months old, most babies will need 1-3 night feeds. This drops to 1-2 night feeds when they reach 6 months. Of course, this is provided that your little one is feeding well during the day.
Most babies wake themselves up through the night if they’re hungry. It’s best to let them do this unless they have weight or other health issues that mean they need waking for a feed. If you have any concerns about how your baby is feeding, then talk to your GP or health visitor.
You may find that your baby may want to feed more often, or for longer, at night, especially if you’re breastfeeding. This is because your body produces more prolactin, the hormone that makes milk, at night.
Night time feeds can actually stimulate your body to make more milk. So remember to keep some breast pads handy to keep you dry at night too!
There may be nights when your baby wakes more than usual. It could be that they need extra feeds because they’re having a growth spurt. But remember that hunger isn’t the only reason why your little one may be wakeful. If they don’t want milk, check for other things that may disturb their sleep, including the room temperature, baby’s temperature and nappy.
However many nights you spend waking in the early hours to feed your little one, you won’t be alone. Remember, it doesn’t last forever.