How long should I let my newborn sleep at night between feedings?

Q: Thanks!

A: Infants are notorious for eating often—sometimes every couple of hours. Although there's no exact science for how often infants should be fed, many experts recommend on-demand feeding rather than sticking to a strict feeding schedule. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a nursing newborn should eat about 8 to 12 times every 24 hours for 10 to 15 minutes or so on each breast. Infants fed with formula may eat less often since formula takes longer to digest than breast milk. The AAP also says that a well-nourished breastfed infant should have about 4 to 6 wet diapers (or 6 to 8 cloth diapers) and 3-4 poopy diapers over a 24-hour period. If your infant is growing steadily in weight and seems content and satisfied after feedings, these are other signs he or she is probably eating enough. If your infant meets these criteria, keep doing what you're doing. If, on the other hand, your infant falls short in any of the aforementioned areas, you may want to wake him or her a bit more often than you do now—though in many cases, when hunger strikes, your sleepy baby will likely wake up on his or her own. You'll also see that as your baby grows, he or she will sleep longer and longer overnight and become more of a day time eater—win win for the whole family!


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