The top-voted answers to this question Should a newborn be allowed to sleep all night, or be woken up to eat more? suggest that, in general, is not a good idea to let newborns sleep through the night without feeding, especially in the first two weeks. I've got this advice from many other sources as well.

What I have not been able to find is what are the long-term effects of doing that, for example in adolescence or adult life.


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    "I know that newborns, especially in the first two weeks, should not be let sleep through the night without feeding." I don't think that is universally accepted. I've always heard that a healthy newborn should be fed when they ask for food (you'll notice...). If a newborn sleeps through the night, you can safely let them sleep. If the child is underweight or has other problems, things can be different, but that should be discussed with your midwife / physician.
    – sleske
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 9:25
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    Possible duplicate of Should a newborn be allowed to sleep all night, or be woken up to eat more?
    – sleske
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 9:26
  • I think this question is based on a false premise, namely that newborns must be woken up for feeding. VTC as duplicate.
    – sleske
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 9:27
  • @sleske Ok, I'm going to add "in general". From the top voted answer on the linked question: "Ask your doctor. When babies are very young, they might not wake up when they need to to feed, and fasting through the night could be dangerous"
    – Germán
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 11:59
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    @sleske the long term effects are not discussed in the linked question. I guess this question can be seen as a follow-up question. I will try to rephrase it to make this explicit.
    – Germán
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 14:58

1 Answer 1


I would assume studies on the long term effects of mistreating newborns are few and far between. Added to the fact that if they arent cared for properly during the first bit they may not get proper nutrition throught childhood so effects could be skewed by later effects as well.

As for lacking nutrition early on i would suspect doctors may pick it up early on based on weighings. All babies lose some weight from their birth weight (fluids as well as a bit of time before mothers milk fully comes in). At 10% loss doctors become concerned, at 20% your likely in a childrens hospital somewhere.

Our child lost a bit over 10% due to low milk supply and was looking fairly gaunt at a couple weeks to a month and was diagnosed with "failure to thrive" which got us some pumped milk from the milk bank. Once sufficient nutrition was sorted she quickly gained back the weight. Since then she has been around 50% weight at dr check ins and is doing great at 1.5years. Stronger and quicker then many other toddlers at the same age.

So from a nutrition standpoint i dont think 2 weeks is going to do any long term damage, i do think you will have a unhappy and hungry baby though as their stomachs are only big enough to hold a few hours worth of food at a time (breastmilk which tjey do process a bit faster then formula). For us at least an unhappy baby would mean we dont sleep since she was in our room.

I realize this wasnt a direct answer to your question, as stated in the beginning i doubt there will be much scientific research that can isolate that specific cause to long term effects.

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