Wake to feed? Eh?



So, I’m going back and forth on what I should do here.  Harris is 8 weeks…9 on Tuesday.  Over the past couple of weeks his sleep has gotten a lot more organized and the times of day are pretty predictable. He wakes-up for the day around 7:30-8, his current awake time is about 45 minutes before he’s ready for a nap, and his nap needs to last at least 2 hours or more for him to wake-up feeling rested.  He’s ready to go down for the night around 7:30-8:30, depending on when his last nap ended.  His naps are still nothing to be proud of, he still wakes at the 45 minute mark almost every time and even when I give him a few minutes to work it out on his own, he has yet to go back to sleep, so I’m still doing a lot of work to get him back to sleep and stay asleep.  BUT.  He really is getting SO much better at going to sleep more quickly and staying asleep when I put him down.  (For the most part anyway.)  

I figured-out that all his screaminess is 100% related to sleep.  I mean, I knew that definitely was factored in somewhere, but I didn’t realize how much.  Apparently, he’s just like his big sister and is extremely sensitive to getting enough rest and gets overtired very quickly.  If he’s rested, he’s a happy, content, calm, smiley, adorable little guy.  When he’s tired—watch out!!!!  (I mean, if he hits his tired time while we’re in the car on a nice loud freeway, does he drift-off to dreamland like any normal baby?  No, he just starts screaming.  Until we get home.  Until I get a boob in his mouth and he drifts-off.  I mean, what infant isn’t lulled to sleep in the car?!)  So right now I’m focusing on getting him the long naps he needs and preventing overtiredness even though it often takes a lot of intervention and maintenance to keep him  asleep.  I’d rather his night sleep improve, which it can’t do if he’s overtired from bad naps, and when he’s older and his patterns are more established I’ll work us out of the butt-patting rut I’m in.  

ALL THAT TO SAY.  So, when he goes down for bed around 8-ish, for the past couple of weeks I’ve been waking him up to feed him before I go to bed if he hasn’t already woken-up.  His longest stretch of night sleep has been three hours (whoo-hoo!), so I was waking him after 2.5 hrs. (which is how long his naps often are) so he wouldn’t go ahead and get that 3-hour stretch out of the way and hopefully do it after I go to sleep.  A couple of times that actually happened, but mostly it just hasn’t worked.  He’ll still wake-up 45 minutes later or an hour and a half later.  I’ve tried feeding him without waking him up all the way and I’ve tried changing his diaper to wake him up a bit and then feeding him.  His first stretch of sleep is pretty solid, we haven’t been hearing a peep out of him, but after I go to bed it’s pretty bad.  Earlier this week he would only have one 2-hr. stretch and the rest of the time he was up every 45 minutes or less.  Even on a good night, he’ll have a couple of 2-3 hour stretches, but from 4-7 a.m. he’s up literally every hour on the hour.  He’s done that pretty much every night since I can remember.

So I started wondering if by waking him up I’m just screwing with his natural sleep pattern and maybe I should just leave him alone.  With Evelyne I never woke her up after I put her to bed, so her longest stretch of sleep was naturally the first part of the night.  So even after she started sleeping decently long stretches, she went to bed so early that I wasn’t getting hardly any benefit, she’d still wake-up about two hours after I went to bed and I’d be up twice a night.  That’s why I wanted to try it differently with Harris, because if it works, I could get way more sleep way earlier than I did with her.  So two nights ago I just didn’t wake him up.  He slept for FIVE hours!  I was astonished!!!!  Last night I did the same thing and he slept for 4.5!!!!  (Both nights from about 7:30-12:30)  I’m totally thrilled beyond belief because even though I only slept a couple of those hours, I’m very encouraged that there’s actual progress being made!  I was really afraid that he was stuck on 3 hours and wouldn’t ever progress.  So the fact that he went from 3 to 5 means that sometime in the future he can go longer than five.  (And the little booger didn’t even seem that hungry when he woke-up!!!)  

When I went to bed last night he had been asleep for exactly 3 hours and I heard him barely stirring in his sleep so I knew it was a light phase of sleep.  Now I’m wondering if I fed him after 3 hours of sleep instead of 2.5 when he’s naturally in a light stage of sleep that he would be able to transfer that five hours to the second part of the night and I might actually be able to—gasp!!!—sleep for five hours!  (I haven’t slept longer than 3 hours at a time in two months, people!!  But I’m kinda nervous that if I do that I’ll screw-up his good pattern and the rest of the night will be bad because I didn’t let him get fully rested or something.  

SO.  I know a lot of people do the wake to feed before bed thing, so tell me how you did it and how it worked.  Did you go at a certain number of hours after they fell asleep or just whenever you felt like going to bed?  Should I just let him do his thing and not wake him up?  Advise me, people.  Either way, YAY Harris for five long hours!!!!   

Oh, and Happy 2 Month Birthday!


12 responses to “Wake to feed? Eh?

  1. I’m not going to give a simple solution to you, b.c. I found that every time I woke my babies up to eat, it did not prolong their sleep cycle. Sleep begets sleep & never wake a sleeping baby (something I took away from Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and it ALWAYS stuck with me).


  2. Emily Reynolds

    I agree with Laurin. I always woke Austin to feed him before I would go to bed for the night. I decided not to do this with Taylor. She slept fine. I was nervous to try it because I thought she would be up all night, but that was never the case.

    By the way, he is sooooooo cute. I love his hair! He really looks just like Evelyn to me. I can’t wait to meet him.


  3. I am not the best source of baby sleep advice, but I tried both ways with Charlotte and ultimately decided that letting her get her best stretch of sleep when she needed it worked best. The reason is exactly what you wrote – she would end up more well-rested in that scenario, which would ultimately end up with better days and eventually better sleep. It’s trial and error though! I’m so glad he seems to be making progress! Go Harris go!


  4. Jennifer Taylor

    I totally agree with everyone else and have found that the advice to never wake a sleeping baby (except when sleep training) in Healthy Sleep Habits… is totally true. I think I woke up Caitlyn a few times b/c I wanted to get that long stretch of sleep too and it might have worked 1-2 times. But she usually just did way better when I let her wake up on her own and would sometimes pleasantly surprise me! All of this sleep stuff is so confusing sometimes but it sounds like you are doing a great job. I’m sure one day when they are teenagers, we’ll look back and think, “If they could’ve only slept like this when they were a baby!” YAY for the 5 hours!


  5. Yeah for 5 hours!!!
    I agree with PP’s–let sleeping babies lie (or is it lay? hahah)
    And I know EXACTLY what you mean about baby being so tired he won’t sleep!!! I had one of those. Wait, I had two of those…
    Hang in there, Mama! You’re doing a great job!!!!


  6. I dont think I ever noticed. I didnt wake him though, I just went with the flow. We breast fed till 15 months and eventually he just slept longer stretches. Not till 3 or 4 months though, i think.

    I would let him lead you but thats if your have the patience. No sleep can do crazy things to us, lol! Good Luck!


  7. I learned with Shea never to wake a sleeping baby to eat. I do have friends who do it and it works for them, but it never did for me. Of course, you may want to do the opposite of whatever I do. The longest stretch that Nash goes without waking up to eat is still three hours. He did sleep for five hours one stretch about 6 months ago. 🙂 His first birthday is in three weeks, and I’m hoping that he magically transforms into a champion sleeper when he hits the year mark. 🙂


  8. Gosh, those eating and sleeping patterns are always so hard to figure out! Since Eli basically didn’t sleep until he was 10 months old (seriously, I can’t tell you how many times I cried to his pediatrician, “aren’t babies supposed to sleep?!”)…my rule was always simple: NEVER wake the sleeping baby! I know different things work best for different families, but for us, that was the rule. 🙂 For the record, Eli has been a GREAT sleeper since he was ten months.


  9. Hey Emily!
    Harris is adorable. I don’t usually feel like I have much to offer or comment, but I agree in this case not to wake him. I was rigid with Amelia feeding her every 3 hours on the dot. But at some point I realized that at night she was going to do better if i let her sleep on her own time. If you let him get used to that long sleep early in the night he may start eating more before then to compensate and the stretch will get longer and longer for you! That is what they learn to do later on anyway. Why not try it now! Hope all is well, we miss seeing you guys!
    -Annah Mary


  10. My son is the same way! Drifts off around 8 and sleeps fine until about 11. Then it’s up every hour. I would get so tired I’d fall asleep in the rocking chair with him and he’d sleep until I put him back in his crib. I really didn’t want him to be in my bed but when he sleeps through the night until 8 or 8:30 how can I not let him be where he wants to be!


  11. first, your baby is so so cute! i’m just debating the same thing. at around 2 months, noah would fall to sleep in the bouncy between 7-8, wake around 9-10 and then sleep for 2-3 hours. he then started doing a longer stretch around 10.5 weeks of 5-7 hours. but then he started to seem fussy if he stayed up later, so i began putting him in his bed around 8 pm, and waking to feed him at 10 per my dr’s office advice. he continued well for a few more days, but then regressed! i don’t know if it’s due to his 3 month growth spurt or what (he also learned to roll over and push himself on the floor this week) but i’m considering stopping this waking him up just to see what happens. i just got that book happy sleep habits as well and he seems to think it’s best not to wake them. i’m going to try it his way tonight.


  12. so i tried leaving him tonight- and he woke up after about 3 hours anyway, and took an hour to go back to bed, then woke up 2 hours later, 2 hours after that, and an hour after that…sigh…


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