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From the moment you become a parent, feeding your baby is going to become something you do many times per day. It doesn’t matter whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle-feed, formula and/or breast milk, what is important is that you feed your baby fully from cycle to cycle and day to day. Hungry babies don’t sleep well and this is why full feedings are so important.
These feeding times include burp time, as long as it’s not excessive, and will gradually lessen over the age of 6-months old.
But up until 6 months, we ideally want the feed to take 30-minutes, so we can use this as a measure of “full”. For bottle-fed babies, when it takes them less time to finish their normal amount of milk, you will know it’s time to gently increase milk amounts. For breastfed babies, as long as you keep the feed time the same, your baby and your milk will adjust to meet your baby’s needs.
In the early days, it is ironic that your biggest obstacle to accomplishing full feedings will be sleep, and that is why it is essential to try to separate eating and sleeping from the very beginning. You want to “work” to keep your baby awake long enough to eat fully. I have seen mother/baby nurses, NICU nurses, and doulas use gentle measures to keep a baby awake long enough to take a full feeding. Some examples of these efforts include placing a cold wipe on baby’s foot or taking off baby’s clothes to wake them up. While you may feel that waking your baby to eat or stimulating them to ensure a full feeding is unnatural, I can assure it is necessary for proper nutrition and essential to getting baby to consistently sleep through the night.
If you start from birth to establish full feedings, and work to maintain those throughout the first year, you will have developed one of the main ingredients for consistent nighttime sleep.