Should You Wake up a Sick Baby for Feeding?

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Getting some babies into good sleeping routines can be hard enough without them being sick to top it off. When your sick baby is finally sleeping, you might not want to wake them up for their usual feeding time, especially if they and you are both exhausted from a lack of sleep. It’s not an uncommon question to ask if you should wake your sleeping sick baby for a feed.

It is ok to let babies have some extra sleep when they are sick as long as they are still feeding regularly and getting enough nutrients and hydration to keep their health up. Sick babies need extra hours of rest as part of the natural healing process that all humans undertake, even babies.

Many parents, old and new, may wonder at a time in their babies’ lives if they should wake them to feed, especially if they’re sick or if they don’t sleep often. As it turns out, it is ok to let babies sleep a little longer and change up their nursery routine to suit them and the situation better. Keep reading below to find out more about how to handle feeding and nap times with a sick baby.

Should You Wake Your Sick Baby for Feeding?

Depending on how long your baby has been sleeping and when their last feed was will determine whether you should wake your sick baby or not. Letting them sleep a couple or a few extra hours is fine if they have had regular feeds.

Waking a baby up seems like an odd thing to do, especially when parents usually can’t wait for their bub to start sleeping longer hours to give tired parents some rest of their own. But when your baby is sick and sleeps through their usual feeding time, it can be concerning for old and new parents who haven’t been in this situation before.

If your infant has been feeding at their normal times, is hydrated, doesn’t have a fever or temperature above 100°F (37.7°C), and is sleeping soundly, it is completely ok to let them sleep slightly longer than normal because they probably need the rest.

Is it Ok to Wake a Sick Baby for Food?

If your sick baby hasn’t had a feed in a while and has been sleeping many hours of the day, it is ok to wake them to have a feed. They might not necessarily be happy about or show their appreciation to you, but you do need to try and get some food into them to help the healing process.

As much as we adults and babies alike need sleep for healing, we also need food, nutrients, and hydration to help us recover from our illness.

When Should You Wake Your Sick Baby for Food?

If your baby sleeps past their usual feeding time and didn’t feed much before their sleep, it is ok to wake them, and we highly recommend you do wake them so that you can try and feed them a little bit more before going back to sleep again.

Sleeping 2 to 3 extra hours past feeding time is a good indicator of when to wake a sick baby to make sure they are getting enough food and nutrients during the day. Waking them doesn’t mean they won’t get back to sleep again, they’ll probably go straight back to sleep when their little bellies are full of warm milk.

What I will suggest, is that if your baby hasn’t been keeping their food down and they have been vomiting or are showing signs of dehydration, you wake them sooner to give them their much-needed milk. Don’t let your baby sleep too long when their body needs strengthening from their mother’s milk.

A good combination of napping and feeding is key to a healthy baby and key to nursing a baby back to health when he or she is unwell.

What to Expect with a Sick Baby

Sick babies need a parent’s love. It’s not going to be easy, parenting rarely is though. But when your baby is sick it can be tough on everyone in the household so knowing what to expect can keep you ahead of the game and in the “know-how” of what steps to take to get your baby back to its healthy self.

Babies can either have no sleep at all when they’re sick and constantly cry with pain, or babies can sleep longer than usual, skip their feeding time, and worry you like crazy. What’s a parent to do!? You can seek advice from experienced friends, but keep in mind that not every baby handles their sickness the same way.

We’ll tell you right here what to expect if or when your baby gets sick and how you can handle the situation like the pro-parent you already are:

  1. Most babies will sleep more overall when they’re sick and this is a-okay and is a natural restorative process for them just like when adults have a fever, flu, or cold.
  2. Although infants, babies, and children will sleep more when sick, they will also wake more frequently.
  3. Consider leaving your sick baby asleep when they’re sick instead of waking them for their normal feeding time. Chances are they’ll wake eventually anyway, and you can feed them then.
  4. When babies are sick, try to maintain their normal feeding and naptime as much as possible, especially if they already had a good routine going. But again, you don’t need to wake them every time they sleep in past mealtime.
  5. Calories are important for a baby’s healthy growth, so whilst letting them sleep, remember you’ll need to feed them later to keep their calories up.
  6. Don’t change where the baby sleeps when they’re sick because you’re worried about being too far away from them. They need to be comfortable, and a cot is a safe place for them. You can, however, bring a mattress into the room to sleep beside their cot.
  7. Offer their food (breast milk and/or formula) at different times than usual to keep encouraging your baby to eat. While they’re sick it’s absolutely normal to have different feeding and nap times, we can’t reiterate this enough.
  8. If your baby has slept up to 3 hours longer than feeding time, it’s probably time to wake them for food. They might not like it and it’ll break your loving heart to see them sick, but it needs to be done. If they refuse to eat and want to go back to sleep, I’d recommend calling your doctor for advice.

The average temperature for a baby is anywhere between 97°F and 99°F (36.11°C and 37.22°C). if your baby’s temperature is within the normal range while they’re sick and sleeping an extra hour or two, it’s just a part of the typical recovery procedure.

However, if the temperature is above 100°F (37.78°C), this is considered a fever, and you should closely monitor their sleeping and eating patterns and call your doctor for advice.

In conclusion – provided they’re hydrated, they’re probably okay to keep sleeping

When a baby is sick, depending on how sick they are, you do not have to wake them up for their regular feeding time. Routines will change over time as your baby gets older and even sometimes when they aren’t feeling 100%.

Letting your baby sleep 2 to 3 extra hours past their traditional breastfeeding time is a kind thing for a parent to do to let the healing development begin. You can let your baby sleep past feeding time without worrying about having to wake them as long as they have had regular feeds throughout the day and don’t have a high fever. 

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