Newborns are unpredictable. The only thing you know for sure is that they will eat a lot and sleep a lot, but you might not know in which order. Around 8 weeks, your baby may start to develop a pattern for eating and sleeping, though he will not likely be on a consistent routine. Understanding what is typical at this age can help you adjust your expectations and cope a little better with what can be an exhausting time.
At 8 weeks old, your breastfed baby should still be eating about eight to 12 times in a 24-hour period, or about every two to three hours. Some babies can nurse every hour or more. Growth spurts and comfort feeding can cause babies to want to nurse more frequently. Newborns should be woken every three hours to eat if they do not wake on their own. However, KidsHealth.org says that after a month or two, babies can go a little longer without eating.
Because breast milk is digested more quickly than formula, breastfed babies tend to wake more frequently in the night to eat. At 8 weeks old, your baby may be able to sleep for stretches of five or six hours before waking. The AskDrSears website recommends "tanking up" your baby with regular feedings throughout the day so that he learns that day time is for eating and night time is for sleeping. AskDrSears recommends attempting to give your baby a full feeding when he first wakes at night so that he will sleep longer and not attempt to "nibble" all night long.
Establishing a Routine
Your 8-week-old may not yet be on a consistent schedule. However, AskDrSears says that there are many things you can do to encourage your baby to sleep more consistently even at a young age. Developing a routine can cue your baby that it is time to sleep. You can develop your own routine, but AskDrSears recommends something simple like a warm bath, rocking, nursing and lullabies. When you nurse your baby in the night, you should keep the lights out or dim and you should keep your baby calm or quiet, according to HealthyChildren.org, the official website of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Disruptions to the Schedule
Young babies are experiencing many changes that can disrupt their feeding and sleeping schedules. The website What to Expect says that a growth spurt can occur between 6 and 8 weeks of age, which can cause your baby to want to nurse more frequently and to wake more often in the night. Your baby may also want to eat more frequently in the evenings, which is known as cluster-feeding. Illness and developmental leaps can also cause your baby to be fussier, either eating more or less and waking more often in the night.
- What to Expect: Baby Growth Spurts
- The Baby Sleep Site: Baby Sleep And Breastfeeding Series: Part 4
- KidsHealth.org: Breastfeeding FAQs: Sleep - Yours And Your Baby's
- Kelly Mom: Frequent Nursing
- HealthyChildren.org: Getting Your Baby To Sleep
- Ask Dr. Sears: 31 Ways To Get Your Baby To Sleep And Stay Aslep
- American Academy Of Pediatrics: Breastfeeding Initiatives: FAQs
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