Now that we have conquered jaundice, our doctor has shifted our breast-fed two-week-old daughter's feeding schedule from "every two hours; wake her; no exceptions" to "every two hours; wake her; you can go up to four hours at night time."

I am not questioning the validity of our doctor's orders. I am confident that there are good reasons to stick with this schedule and wake our daughter accordingly. What I do question is the importance of the 4 hour period specifically occurring at night.

As often as not, our daughter's only session of staying asleep for more than a couple hours is in the afternoon. At night time, she tends toward two hours on the high end, and sometimes wants to cluster-feed (last night, for instance, there was only one between-feedings period over an hour).

The shift towards longer breaks sounds great as it will help my wife to get actual sleep, if-and-when we can take advantage. But those opportunities may be few and far between if they are only allowed at night time.

One option we've considered is to allow up to two anytime 4-hour breaks if our daughter and my wife are both sleeping soundly. Is there a strong reason that these 4-hour breaks should only be at night? What could go wrong from us allowing them during the day?

It seems worth it to let our girl have her days and nights stay mixed up a bit longer if that is what it takes to provide her with a well-rested mother.

Edit: After a day or two, we were lucky enough to see her long sessions of sleep shift to the 8pm to midnight timeframe. That has largely made this a non-issue. In retrospect, I still think that 4 hours during the day would have been fine if that was the only way to provide sleep to my wife

  • What did your doctor say when you asked them about it?
    – DanBeale
    Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 11:41
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    We were too overwhelmingly thankful that my wife could theoretically sleep more than 90 minutes at a time to question it much while we were there. We did comment that the long sleeps mostly happen in the afternoon, and the doctor just said that would sort itself out soon. Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 13:12
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    @JeffreyBlake - Judging from your comments (I can also see deleted answers and comments), you only want advice that allows you to follow your doctor's orders. The truth is, we don't know all your daughter's problems. Your doctor may have reasons why he wants her awoken every two hours to feed, including but not limited to: prematurity, low birth weight, failure to regain enough weight, etc. Users are doing their best without them. Without any other problems, I would not advise waking an infant to feed every two hours either. Best you discuss this with your doc. Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 5:55
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    @anongoodnurse The doctor's orders were kind of the cornerstone of the question, so yes, I feel that an answer which basically says they should be ignored is failing to answer the question. The question was not whether or not I should wake my daughter to feed. The question was whether or not the variation in timing to allow extra time at night really had to be at night. I thought aparente001's answer did a great job addressing this (and I'm really curious why others downvoted it). Other answers do not seem to address what I was asking at all. I will edit the question to clarify that point. Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 3:31

3 Answers 3


I personally would not recommend waking your baby up for any reason. When your baby is ready to eat he will let you know. There is no reason to wake him and and force him to eat. The only exception I would say would be a newborn who hasn't eaten yet. Since your baby is two weeks old, I would let him rest as long as he needs to and feed him when he wakes up. I have three children currently and every one of them were sleeping 6+ hours through the night by 4 weeks.

Also congratulations on getting through the jaundice phase. We only had 1 kid that had it but it wasn't fun.

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    A newborn might not wake up to alert you that it needs to be fed. That's why you wake them when they are that young.
    – swbarnes2
    Commented Jun 15, 2015 at 19:05
  • I appreciate many of the sentiments here, but I have to give this a -1. You're basically saying that I should ignore my doctor's orders. Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 3:26

I like your reasoning, @JeffreyBlake. You explained it very well, and I won't try to go through it again.

I'd suggest one small change to the scheme you proposed: at two weeks, I would aim for only one four-hour gap.

Is there a lactation consultant or La Leche League leader in your area?

There's one other trick you can use -- as long as you don't overuse it. During the dark hours, when your daughter is nursing so often, you can pick one request to nurse to try to talk her out of. Well, not by talking, of course, but perhaps by taking her out for a walk. So many one-hour gaps can be rough.

I'm all in favor of cooperating with a baby's urge to cluster-feed, but like you say, a mother needs to get some sleep!

(Basis for my answer: personal experience, lots of reading about breastfeeding, and some years of participation in La Leche League meetings.)

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    Can you elaborate as to the benefit of this sort of trick? Once my wife is awake, what would be the point of not feeding if the baby wants it? Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 4:13
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    The schedule we've been following is roughly for me to take care of everything but feedings from around 7am to 11pm so that my wife can nap as much as she is able. Then my wife covers the graveyard shift and lets me sleep as much as possible. More typically that's midnight to 6am or so. So for much of the night, my wife ends up being the one to wake up. Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 4:26
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    The baby is pretty much never in our room unless it's a situation where baby is giving feeding cues and I have to wake my wife after going through all of the steps for checking/changing diapers and trying to calm baby back to sleep. Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 4:30
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    @JeffreyBlake, bingo, you got it. The way you've been doing things is great for the first couple weeks after the birth, but now you're probably going to want to start to transition to a somewhat different scheme. Perhaps you have been on parental leave and perhaps that will be ending sometime soon. Then ideally, baby will be doing lots of sleeping, but some nursing -- but no cluster feeding hopefully -- when it's dark out. Baby willl still be able to cluster feed like crazy during the daytime and the evening, before mama goes to bed for the night. Of course, one wants to ... Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 14:49
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    be gentle in how one handles the transition. Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 14:49

Recent research discourages utilizing a feeding schedule and instead allowing the baby to dictate when he/she is fed. A very thorough analysis of this can be found here. Don't wake your child to feed them!

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    If our doctor wanted our infant fed on schedule and was specific, I would ask why, listen and then obey or change doctors. She is paid to know and we trust her.
    – user27143
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 21:05
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    I agree with @user27143 " our doctor has shifted our breast-fed two-week-old daughter's feeding schedule from "every two hours; wake her; no exceptions" to "every two hours; wake her; you can go up to four hours at night time." and that's the bottom line. If you think your doctor is wrong, then perhaps you have the wrong doctor. I know doctors are sometimes wrong, but that's why we ask for an explanation. While I'd never agree to anything I did not trust, a lack of trust would mean -- new doctor.
    – WRX
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 21:20
  • @Willow That is how we see it.
    – user27143
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 21:01

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