Is Your Newborn Feeding All the Time? Here’s What to Do

Is your newborn feeding all the time? Whether breastfed or formula-fed, learn how to stretch feedings and sleep a little longer.

Newborn Feeding All the Time

Frequent feedings seemed more understandable in the early days, but when you’ve been doing this for weeks and months, it can feel defeating. I didn’t know when I’d ever get a full night of sleep again and started to resent how often my baby nursed.

When you’re in that moment, every day can feel like an eternity, not knowing if or when life will feel normal again.

A newborn isn’t going to sleep the whole night just yet—your baby’s stomach is still too small to last the whole night. That said, what do you do when she’s still too young to sleep train but you want to encourage her to go longer between feeds and stop cluster feeding all night? Take a look at these steps you can try:

Don’t keep your baby awake too long

As a first-time mom, I assumed babies would sleep when they were tired. So, it wasn’t unusual for me to keep my baby awake for long stretches, unaware that he needed help falling asleep.

Only later did I learn that keeping him awake led him to feel overtired and cranky. The result? Frequent wake-ups and a newborn not settling after night feeds. In other words, there’s a good chance your baby is waking up often not out of hunger, but from feeling overtired.

Try not to keep her awake too long—90 minutes at most, and sometimes she might need to sleep as soon as 45 minutes after waking up.

Free: Want to learn more about how her time awake might be affecting how well she sleeps or not? Get your copy of One Mistake You’re Making with Your Baby’s Awake Time—at no cost to you. Don’t make the same mistakes I did—help her fall asleep with this one simple trick! You’ll also get my newsletters, which parents say they LOVE:

“I need to say thank you for sharing this extremely helpful information. As I was reading on, I couldn’t help but think ‘That’s exactly how I feel. She gets it!’ Feeling alone in this is an understatement. That is, until I started to read your article. Someone else is feeling the same way and experiencing similar behaviors! Thank you kindly for providing this life support.”
Karen D.
One Mistake You're Making with Your Baby's Awake Time

Feed often during the day

Feeding on demand is so important during the newborn stage, but tell that to any new parent and you might be met with dagger eyes. After all, it can be difficult to be tied to your baby 24/7, especially if you’re the only one who can feed her.

But feeding on demand, especially during the day, ensures that she’s getting all the food she needs. Don’t try to cap her off or put her on a schedule. Instead, follow her lead and feed as often as she wants during the day. If you breastfeed, this can also maintain or increase your milk supply.

And hopefully, by feeding plenty the whole day, she has less of a need to wake up often at night. Don’t expect her to sleep through the night yet, but at least you’re filling her up during the day when she can start to take in most of her feeds down the line.

Feed extra before bedtime

The first stretch of sleep after bedtime tends to be the longest. This is when you can likely grab five hours of uninterrupted sleep compared to, say, four o’clock in the morning. Help your baby sleep longer for that first stretch by offering her a bit of extra food for bedtime.

If you breastfeed, see if she can take a few extra minutes of nursing (or simply wait for her to pull away instead of putting a time limit). If you bottle-feed, try to add an extra half-ounce before setting her down for the night.

By topping her off with extra milk, you can ensure that she won’t wake up too soon after from hunger.

Dream feed

If you’re like most parents, you put your baby down for the night before your own bedtime. For instance, you might set her down at 7:30pm, then head to bed yourself at 10pm.

One trick that can preempt her first wake-up is to offer a dream feed before you go to bed yourself. Let’s say you sleep at 10pm. Give her another feed at 9:30pm to top her off even further for the night. This allows you to feed her while you’re still awake and alert.

It’s okay if she’s groggy and half asleep as she feeds—there’s no need to wake her up all the way. This is more to give her a feed while you’re still awake.

Make sure your baby is actually eating

Does it seem like your baby wakes up right after you just fed her? There might be a chance she’s not even drinking at all, which could explain why she seems hungry so soon after feeding. Instead of drinking, she might be half asleep and sucking for comfort, especially if she drifts off to sleep mid-feed.

How can you tell if your baby is hungry or wants comfort? Listen for a swallowing sound—she should actually be gulping milk down. Look at her throat to see if it moves with each gulp. If you don’t hear a sound and her throat doesn’t move, she just might be moving her lips and sucking.

If you suspect that she falls asleep, burp her mid-feed, talk to her, tickle her, and otherwise ensure that she stays awake while she eats.

Give your baby a chance to settle

Newborns are notorious for making all sorts of sounds, even while they’re asleep. But back then, I’d sit up right away the minute my little guy made a peep (it didn’t help that he was in the same room as me). I felt compelled to scoop him up immediately, fearing that those sounds would escalate into full-on cries.

I’ve since learned that those sounds, including the small whimpers and cries, can often settle on their own. The next time you hear your baby cry, try to discern the type of cry first. Does she sound like she’s complaining and whimpering or is she angry and in need of your attention right away?

If it sounds like she might settle down, wait one minute—she might not be waking up out of hunger.

The bottom line

Frequent feedings aren’t always easy to handle. Your baby finally falls asleep, only to seem hungry again soon after. Thankfully, you now have the tips to stretch your feeding schedule—instead of waking up every 2 hours as if on cue.

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One Mistake You're Making with Your Baby's Awake Time

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