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The trick to feeding a sleepy newborn. How to get your newborn to wake up so you can feed her.
|Kaitlyn was my hardest baby to wake up to feed|
A sleepy baby is really an exhausting thing for a mom who is trying to get a full feeding in her baby. When Brayden was a baby, I wasn’t doing Babywise yet and I would let him be done if he fell asleep eating. With Kaitlyn, however, I worked and worked to get her to eat. She was a really sleepy newborn. Tracy Hogg lists some ideas for keeping a baby up for a feeding in the book Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. Here they are (found on page 99):
- Use your thumb to rub a circular motion on the palm of his hand.
- Rub his back or underarm.
- “Walk” your fingers up and down his spine.
- If none of these work, leave baby for 30 minutes and try again (as also suggested in Babywise).
Hogg says to not to use a wet washcloth or tickling feet. I have to say though that those techniques would often work for Kaitlyn.
In The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems (affiliate), Hogg states that baby is less likley to fall asleep during feeds after 6 weeks of age (page 30). That doesn’t mean it never happens; some do and some don’t (some really never did). But it might give you something to look forward to. With Katilyn, I remember a significant improvement after 4 weeks, then steady progress from there. [added February 7, 2009].
- How to Feed Sleepy Newborns
- Sleepy Newborns: Work for 10 Minutes
- Nursing A Newborn: Keep Baby Awake!
- bradysmom said…
My baby was a very sleepy newborn as well. I always found the wet wash cloth did the trick. I would always have to feed him in only his diaper as well. Usually, between being naked and the wet washcloth, I could keep him awake!
August 19, 2008 5:58 AM
Thanks Bradysmom–ugh, that was so much work! I don’t miss that 🙂
August 19, 2008 9:11 PM
- jencwu said…
One thing I have struggled with is how do I know when my baby is done eating? He is 4 weeks old and still quite sleepy when he’s eating, so I will try to make him go 10-15 mins on each side, sometimes longer if he is really sleepy. Usually after that amount of time I am really fighting to keep him awake and I usually just figure he’s had enough so I break his suction and take him off. Is that the right thing to do or should I wait for him to do that on his own? If I wait it might take forever since he is always going in and out of sleep. Also, my husband feeds him 1 bottle of breastmilk for his DF and he usually eats about 5 ounces, which from what I’ve read is a lot more than typical at this age. He is growing a lot faster than typical too. So I know he has a big need for food, but I just really don’t want to spend my entire day nursing a sleepy baby.
August 22, 2008 1:10 PM
jencwu, This is a hard one, especially for the first time mom. My son took an hour to eat (at least) at that age. Looking back, a lot of that was me not really knowing what was going on. Just work to keep him awake (I know it is draining, but it should improve soon). At 3 months, my son went down to 30 minutes and was really easy to see when he was done eating. It will get easier with time and experience.
August 28, 2008 7:48 AM
- jencwu said…
I looked around and wasn’t sure where else to put this question, so I’m including it here. I know BW says not to nurse your baby to sleep, but what about at nighttime feedings? What I have been doing is when he wakes up at night, I feed him on one side, change his diaper, then feed him on the other side. I try to keep him awake to get a full feeding but then after a certain amount of time he is just so sleepy he won’t wake up for anything. I really press the issue if I feel he hasn’t eaten enough, but usually he gets that sleepy after I feel he’s eaten enough. So I just burp him (he usually even sleeps through that at those times!) and put him down. Do you think this is okay or could it be messing up the daytime routine (as in maybe it is making him feel like he needs to feed in order to go to sleep for naps?)? If I shouldn’t be doing this, what would you suggest for nighttime feedings?
August 22, 2008 1:19 PM
Jen,In BW it says that during the nightime feeding you are suppossed to feed him and then immedietly put him back down. I don’t think there is any problem w/ nursing and then putting him back to bed. This is what I did w/ both of my kids, and it didn’t cause a problem w/ naps during the day. Just be sure and keep the eat/awake/sleep cycle (makeing sure you don’t nurse to sleep)during the day and you are set. 🙂
August 24, 2008 9:55 PM
jencwu, I think that is fine for that feeding. Just do your best to be sure he gets a full feeding so he can get some good sleep.
August 28, 2008 7:50 AM
Thanks Krystal–good tips!
August 28, 2008 7:50 AM
- juls1974 said…
I can totally relate to Jen. My 5 week-old does the same thing when I’m nursing, whether it’s day or night. He falls asleep within 10 minutes of nursing and then wakes up briefly to suck every minute or so (especially if I try to take away the breast). I usually change his diaper and that will wake him up for a few more minutes of nursing, but then it’s back to sleep again. I realize now after reading many posts/comments that I need to work a little harder to get in that full feeding. My question now is what can I do to keep him awake during “waketime?”Many times I end up burping him after nursing and then putting him to bed right away because there’s NOTHING I can do to wake him up. If he does wake up a little he’s so drowsy that I can’t tell when I should put him down to bed (overabundance of sleepy cues). Does that make sense? So, he sleeps so much during the day that he sleeps poorly during the night which makes him extra sleepy the next day, and the viscious cycle continues… Any suggestions?
September 11, 2008 2:12 PM
The fact that he isn’t sleeping well at night tells you that he needs more waketime in the day. I would think through his day and figure out when he is most awake. For one week, focus on keeping him awake for that waketime. At the same time, figure out his optimal waketime length. At that age, my guess would be 30-45 minutes, while some could do 60 minutes. After a week, choose another waketime so you have two waketimes in the day that he is awake, and so forth. If he responds well, you can move faster than one week at a time.To keep him awake, sit him up, talk to him, keep things interesting (but remember for a newborn it doesn’t take much to be interesting).
September 17, 2008 8:11 AM