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My 3-month-old son has started sleeping through the night, with a vengeance. He sleeps for hours. And when he finally wakes up and I expect him to be starving, he's often still ready to happily play for a bit - say 1/2 hour to 45 min. Now, I know this isn't such normal behavior for a 3-month-old, and I'm definitely appreciating having my nights back, but I'm also a bit concerned - how long is the longest I should let him go without eating?

Edit (more details):

I used to try to stretch him and make his last feeding right before I went to sleep, so that I could take full advantage of his sleep-time. So we used to put him to bed about 12:30-1:00, and then head to sleep ourselves. He started off going about 6-7 hours... But a couple of weeks ago he started sleeping longer, and longer, and longer... Now he goes nearly 12 hours. He'll go to sleep at 12:30 AM and wake up at 12 PM or later. And he'll then happily play for another half hour, making about 12 hours of no-eating. I generally trust that I can rely on him to tell me when he's hungry, but I was wondering if there's a limit to how long I can let him go without eating...

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3  
Soooo jealous :-) –  Urbycoz May 29 '12 at 11:52
    
I grew up always hearing "Never wake a sleeping baby!!" –  Allie Aug 6 at 12:42

7 Answers 7

As always with regard to health-related questions: If you're actually concerned and not just curious, always consult your pediatrician. But here's my general answer:

At the age of 3 months, regular eating/feeding patterns often haven't developed yet, so you can expect this to change again in the coming months. It is extremely rare that children have eating disabilities so unless you have a reason to suspect trouble, you should rely on the baby to tell you when he's hungry.

This is a good age to set up an "ideal" feeding schedule that suits you, and work toward actually meeting that schedule some of the time. In my family, we tried to pick a rhythm that fits into our schedule reasonably well and aimed at feeding every 3 hours - at 6,9,12,15,18,21 o'clock and then sleep through the night. In reality though, sometimes the intervals were less than 2 hours, or more than 4 hours, and of course every child is different. Don't be disheartened though; this improves over time.

Update:
If he's not in the lower end of weight and growth charts then I'd say he appears to be well-fed and I certainly wouldn't wake him no matter how long he sleeps.

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how long is "sleep through the night"? he goes for about 12 hours... –  luckiestMom Jul 27 '11 at 11:27
4  
You really are the luckiest mom, I think many mothers envy you for that. I answered your question by updating my answer. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Jul 27 '11 at 11:41
    
+1 for mentioning the growth charts. Monitoring growth is a great way to ensure that a child is getting enough nutrition long term. –  Beofett Jul 27 '11 at 12:24
    
<sheepish> Yeah, I know. That's why I feel funny seeming worried... but I can't help it, it's just such an unusual schedule :) He does seem to be growing and happy, although I haven't had him weighed by a pediatrician in a while. I have another visit coming up in a week or 2, I guess I'll bring it up then... –  luckiestMom Jul 27 '11 at 12:58
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@luckiestMom: your nickname says it all! It took our son more than 13 months until he could sleep through a whole night. So enjoy your sleep. // at Torben: not only mothers envy her for that, there's also sleepless fathers. ;-) –  BBM Sep 30 '11 at 21:36

Pediatricians usually give us a volume per day rather than a fixed schedule. Ask 10 different parents about the right schedule and you'll get 10 different answers. Find whatever works for you.

Also, you don't have to wait for your baby to cry before feeding him. Just like you, he is probably hungry enough to eat 30-60 minutes before he's hungry enough to cry about it.

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When my son was 3 months old, he started "sleeping through the night" at stretches of 8-12 hours at a time. He would not wake up to feed anymore, and I asked my ped about it because he was eating every 2-3 hours when awake. My ped said that was fine, he was "making up" for the long stretch at night by eating frequently during his waking hours. Now, at 8 months, he sleeps 10-12 hours at night and has tapered off to eating about every 4 hours (we are starting to work on solid foods).

It might just be his schedule. I would not be concerned, but like others suggested, if you are concerned you should talk to your ped.

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8-12 hours of sleep at night?!? Lucky! :) –  Beofett Jun 15 '12 at 13:04

Have you tried feeding your little one at 7/8 at night then letting him sleep those 12 hours to set a more natural routine for later on? That way he can enjoy his mornings with you and eventually enjoying mornings at play group or school.

Whatever works for you and your family is the right thing as all babies are different!

My little one has just recently set his own night time schedule. He has a bottle at 6pm then again at 12:30/1am, and he then wakes again at 5/6am. I try to hold off allowing him to eat until 7am, with the aim of eventually having him eat at 6/7 in the evening, and 7 in the morning, with 4 hour intervals.

However, after his last feed around 3 he can't hold out longer than another 3 hours before eating again.

He is always asleep by 8. He fights and cries as he's very much over-tired, but I try stay consistent with his routine and hopefully it becomes fixed. He is only 9 weeks and is doing well! Good luck let us know how it goes!

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If your child is on the small side, you were probably told to feed him often. Ours were both under 6 pounds, and our pediatrician wanted them fed every two hours until they hit 10 pounds. Man, that was a long 4 months or so for my wife! After that, we fed them on an their schedule, and that was still at least once a night until maybe seven or eight months.

You are so lucky! If he's growing and your pediatrician is happy with his progress through the growth charts, enjoy your sleep. If you're thinking of having another one, don't expect the same luck twice.

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I am old school. I am also involved in special education. It is my opinion, that Babies need nutrition for brain development, learning & motor skills. If the baby is in the low percentile weight wise I would feed the baby and not let the baby go more than 7-8 hrs "at night" without a feeding. Infants need to be fed during the day, they need to learn days vs nights. I would wake a baby to feed them. Feed Infants 3- 4 hrs. Babies can eat with their eyes closed, you do not have to talk to them or disturb their sleep, they will naturally feed if given the opportunity. Some babies fall asleep while eating, we used to rub the bottom of our child's feet and they would start sucking again. I believe, nutrition is important for infants, not because they are hungry but because of development.

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Besides the other excellent answers on your question: there is a "feature" in our bodies that allows us to ignore hunger and thirst (to some extend) for the first few hours after waking up, presumably so we can go and hunt our breakfast without our stomach interfering. So the behavior of your child seems to be perfectly normal.

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