A newborn baby can wake up several times a night and he should be fed. By the end of the first week of life a child, weighing more than 3.2 kg, must sleep for four hours long after feeding at 10 – 11 p.m. if he eats enough during the day. More young children have to be fed every three hours around the clock. All 4 – 6 week old healthy children who eat well can sleep 5-6 hours long. The main purpose of the following feeding routine is to help parents schedule feeding and child’s sleep during the daytime in order to avoid baby’s frequent nighttime awakenings.
The length of baby’s night sleep before he wakes up hungry depends on him. Some 6 – 8 week old children sleep all night long after feeding at 10:30 p.m., others begin to sleep so long between 10-12 weeks of age. Someone babies need even more time. All children begin to sleep through the night when they become physically and mentally able for this if their daytime feeding and sleep are scheduled properly.
Main reasons for healthy babies’ frequent night awakenings
1. Too much sleep during the daytime. Even very young children need some time to be awake. After a daytime feeding encourage the child to stay awake for an hour and a half. Most 6-8 week old children are able to be awake up to two hours long.
2. Not enough food in the daytime. To avoid frequent night feedings, you should feed the child six times between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. To have enough time for this your day should start at 7 a.m.
3. Little feeding time. During the first days the child should be being fed at least for 25 minutes. If the child weighs more than 3.6 kg, it is necessary to give him the second breast. Breastfed babies more likely wake up several times a night if they ate not enough at 10:30 p.m. – they may need additional feeding.
4. Babies under the age of six weeks have a strong Moro reflex. They may wake up several times a night from a sudden shudder. Such babies should be better swaddled into a light cotton sheet. Older children wake up several times a night because they got out from the blanket and they are cold or their feet have stuck between the crib lattices. Sleeping bag will not let them be cold or get stuck between the lattices.
5. The child has got wrong associations with the sleep. The sleep cycle is changed between the second and third month of age and the baby goes into a light sleep phase several times a night. If he got used to be fed, rocked or given a pacifier to easier fall asleep, he will need the same help to fall asleep at night again.
6. If parents leave the door open in the child’s room or leave the night light switched on there, the baby will probably wake up several times a night.
7. If the amount of breast milk is reduced too quickly when solid food is introduced into the baby’s diet, he will wake up at night really willing to eat milk.
8. Children under 3 months of age usually need help at night if they are sick or have a cold. A baby who has cold can suffer greatly, especially during feeding, because he cannot breathe through his mouth.
When a sick child needs attention in the evening and at night, you must do everything calmly and quietly. A sick child needs to rest more than a healthy one. Avoid a large number of visitors and activities in the child’s room in the evenings. It will be easier for you to take care of your sick child who wakes up several times a night if you sleep in the same room with him.
Later when the child recovers, he will likely want attention he got during the illness. So, you should be firm and let him fall asleep on his own. The parents, who are not ready to do this, usually receive long-term problems with the child’s sleep as a result.