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Ask an Expert: Should I Wake My Baby to Eat?

Fan Question: My first baby will be born soon and I’m wondering if I should wake my baby to nurse at night or if I should wait until he wakes to breastfeed.

NANCY MOHRBACHER, IBCLC: The answer is “it depends.” You need to know first if your baby is feeding effectively. His weight check at 2 weeks should answer that question. If his weight gain is good (at birth weight or gaining about 1 oz. per day), you can stop paying attention to the time and wait for him to wake you at night. During the first 2 weeks, it’s fine if your newborn sleeps for one 4- to 5-hour stretch, as long as he is nursing at least 8 times during the rest of the day. If your baby is gaining weight well, you don’t have to worry about the other details. Once he’s proven that he’s an effective feeder, you can trust your baby to let you know when he needs to feed. If a healthy baby sleeps a lot at night, he will just “cluster nurse” during the day to make up for lost time. Good luck!

unnamedNancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA is a board-certified lactation consultant in the Chicago area who has been helping breastfeeding families since 1982. Her books for professionals are used worldwide. Her books for parents include Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers, which she co-authored with Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, and her tiny problem-solving guide, Breastfeeding Solutions In 2013, Nancy released her Breastfeeding Solutions smartphone app (available for Android and iPhones) to give mothers a quick, go-everywhere source of breastfeeding help. Nancy speaks at events around the world.

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