Your baby grows rapidly during the first year of life. Since he is unable to use words to tell you exactly what he needs, it can be confusing trying to figure out if all of his nutritional and sleep needs are being met. Your baby quickly learns to rely on using his own cues to let you know what he needs. Outside of the first few weeks after birth, you likely do not need to wake your baby from naps, even during growth spurts.
According to Elizabeth LaFleur, a registered nurse, you might need to wake your baby from naps that last more than four hours during the first few weeks of life. During this time, your baby is experiencing a significant growth spurt as she works to put back on the weight that she lost immediately following delivery, so it’s important that she eat every few hours and have a total of eight to 12 feedings a day. Once your baby is steadily gaining weight and reaching developmental milestones, it’s OK to let her sleep as often as she needs, even during other periods of rapid growth.
Just like nourishment, sleeping is also necessary during growth spurts. KidsHealth.org indicates that your baby needs around 16 to 20 hours of sleep a day during the first six months. At around 4 months of age, his naps will become more regular and will occur two to three times a day. From 6 to 12 months, he will sleep about 11 hours at night and have a few naps that total three to four hours a day. Naps give your baby the energy that he needs to observe and explore his environment. If you consistently wake him from his naps unnecessarily, he will miss out on the sleep he needs for growth and development.
As your baby gets older, you can expect her to gradually begin eating more at each feeding and spacing her feedings farther apart. According to KidsHealth.org, wetting four to six diapers a day is a sign that your baby is getting enough to eat. Typically, you can expect her to sleep when she needs to and wake up on her own if she is hungry, even in growth spurts.
Keep in mind that each baby is different and has different needs. For example, if your baby was born prematurely, he might need to be woken to eat for a longer period of time after birth than most babies in an attempt to help him gain weight. Your baby’s doctor will help you determine if your baby’s weight gain is normal and whether you need to wake him from naps to eat.
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