RD, LDN, CBS
Certified in Maternal and Infant Nutrition from Cornell, Angela’s mission is to help people reach their wellness goals. She also helps run a program that teaches pregnant women about how a healthy lifestyle optimizes prenatal and postnatal care.
Keeping your baby awake during feedings is important to avoid a feed-to-sleep association – when your baby needs to be fed in order to fall asleep. So how do you keep her from nodding off while eating?
infant nutrition isn't easy. We can help.
Remember that the circadian rhythm or “body clock” is a 24-hour cycle that tells our bodies when to sleep and also signals hunger and digestion. Likely developed by 4 months of age, your baby’s circadian rhythm will establish her sleeping and eating patterns, but you’ll see some variation in her schedule until about 6 months.
Homeostatic pressure or sleep pressure is the buildup of sleep need over time. This pressure builds up very quickly in newborns and gradually lessens as babies grow and develop. Periods of wakefulness can only be tolerated for 45-90 minutes in the newborn period, but infants and toddlers can go stretches of 2-5 hours of being awake before needing to sleep again.
Observe your baby and keep track of her natural biological patterns of sleep and hunger
Feed your baby at the times she is most awake – either right after waking up or well before she is ready for sleep again.
Remember that newborns can only tolerate being awake for 45-90 minutes at a time, whereas infants and toddlers can go for 2-5 hour periods of wakefulness before needing sleep again.
Create an environment for eating, not sleeping
Waking Up Is (Sometimes) Hard to Do. Healthy Children.org. Date accessed 2 Nov. 2009.