How to Keep a Newborn Awake for Feeding

Being a new parent can be one of the most exciting yet overwhelming experiences in life. New parents need to learn how to properly care for their little bundle of joy and feed them regularly. One of the biggest challenges some parents face is keeping their newborns awake during feeding time – especially as they get older!

How to Keep a Newborn Awake for Feeding

While it may seem daunting at first, thankfully, there are certain strategies that can help your baby stay alert while eating. In this blog post, we’ll explore helpful tips and tricks on how to keep a newborn awake for feeding so they can feed effectively and nourish themselves properly without falling asleep mid-mealtime.

Why Does a Newborn Sleep While Eating?

Before taking a look at how to keep a newborn awake during feeding, it’s important to understand why they may have the tendency to drift off in the first place. One of the main reasons is that newborn babies are tired and require lots of rest! When eating, their bodies use energy to digest the food, which can make them even more sleepy than usual.

Another reason why a baby may drift off while eating is that the act of sucking can be soothing and comforting to them, much like swaddling or having a pacifier. This can cause a newborn to enter into a light sleep as they eat, regardless of how awake they are beforehand.

10 Tips on How to Keep a Newborn Awake for Feeding

1. Make the Environment

Create a comfortable, stimulating environment. Make sure the room is warm and cozy but not too dark. Having some light coming in can help keep your baby alert, as well as playing soothing music or singing songs to them.

Make Sure the Room is Warm and Cozy

2. Introduce Novelty

Try changing up the type of bottle you’re using, switching from artificial nipples to natural-feeling nipples, or offering different flavors of formula. This can help keep your baby interested and awake during feeding time.

3. Take Breaks

Take regular breaks from feeding to burp your baby, change the diaper, or just talk to them and engage with them in order to keep their attention focused on eating. Breaks will also give your baby a chance to wind down if they become too overstimulated.

4. Keep the Room Bright

Keeping the room bright, with natural light coming in from windows or lamps, can help keep your newborn awake during feeding time. The brightness can act as an alerting cue and will be less likely for them to drift off.

Natural Light Coming in From Windows

5. Rub Tummy or Feet

Gently rubbing the baby’s tummy or feet can help them stay alert during feeding time. The stimulation will help keep their attention focused and actively engaged in eating. It will also help them develop strong traditional feeding cues.

6. Swaddle or Rock

Swaddling your baby or gently rocking them can help keep them alert during feeding time. The swaddling sensation is comforting and can help keep the baby awake and focused on eating, while the rocking motion helps to distract them from falling asleep while they’re feeding.

7. Give Massages

Gently massaging your newborn’s face, head, and neck can help keep them awake while they are feeding. The massage will also be calming and can help keep them focused on eating rather than drifting off to sleep mid-mealtime.

8. Feed Upright

Hold your baby in an upright position while they feed to encourage them to stay awake. This will help keep the food in their stomach and make it easier for them to digest as well. Also, an upright position will help keep the baby alert and prevent them from falling asleep while they are eating.

9. Talk to Baby

Talking or singing softly to your baby can help keep them engaged during feeding time. This form of communication helps create a bond between you and your little one and encourages them to stay awake and attentive while eating.

Talking or Singing Softly to Your Baby

10. Monitor Feedings

If your baby is having difficulty staying awake while eating, try monitoring their feedings to see if they are taking in enough nourishment. If not, you may need to supplement with a bottle or other form of supplemental food if necessary.

Keeping a newborn awake for feeding can be tricky, but with the right strategies, you can help your baby stay alert and engaged during feeding time. With a bit of practice and patience, you’ll be able to ensure that your little one is getting the nourishment they need while also bonding with them in the process.

8 Safety Precautions to Follow While Feeding a Newborn

It is important to keep a newborn awake while feeding in order to ensure that they receive the proper nutrition. While it can be challenging to try and keep a newborn alert during feedings, there are some safety precautions you should take in order to make sure your baby is safe and receives adequate nourishment. Here are 8 safety precautions to follow while  feeding a newborn:

  1. Have plenty of burp cloths on hand in case of spit-up or other messes that need to be cleaned up. The burp cloths should be changed between feedings to prevent bacterial growth.
  2. Make sure you are in a comfortable, stable position before beginning a feeding. This will help keep your arms and shoulders from becoming overly tired during the feeding, which can lead to an unsafe situation.
  3. Hold the baby securely but gently while feeding them. This will help keep the baby from becoming too restless during feeding. Also, it will help prevent the baby from slipping or falling.
  4. Keep your head and neck in a comfortable, neutral position while feeding. This will help reduce the chance of straining your neck and back muscles during feedings. It is an important safety precaution to ensure your own well-being.
  5. Be mindful of your baby’s facial expressions when feeding them. If you notice signs of discomfort, such as frowning or squirming, stop the feeding and make sure the baby is comfortable before proceeding.
  6. Feed your baby in an environment with plenty of natural light, which will help alertness. Also, make sure the room is warm enough to keep your baby comfortable, as too cold of an environment will lead to drowsiness.
  7. Utilize skin-to-skin contact while feeding if possible, which can help stimulate the baby and increase alertness during feedings. It gives your baby a sense of comfort and familiarity, which can make feeding go much smoother.
  8. Talk to your baby or sing to them while feeding if it helps keep them alert. This will help the feeding be more interesting for the baby, which helps keep them awake and focused.

By following these safety precautions, you can ensure a safe and nourishing experience for your newborn while they are being fed. All of these tips will help keep the baby awake, alert, and comfortable during feedings, which is essential for their well-being. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Can Be Used as a Distraction?

Various methods can be used to distract a baby while they are being fed. These include singing, talking, making funny faces or noises, playing with toys, or providing a pacifier to suck on. You can also use a bright light to help keep the baby alert or make sure they are in an environment with plenty of natural light.

When Should I Stop Feeding My Baby?

It is important to stop feeding your baby if they show signs of discomfort, such as fussing, squirming, or pushing away from the bottle or breast. It is also important to stop if your baby has fallen asleep during the feeding. Never force a baby to eat if they are not interested, as this can lead to choking or other safety hazards.

Should I Wake My Sleeping Baby Up For Feedings?

No, it is not recommended that you wake up a sleeping baby for feedings. The baby’s body will naturally regulate their hunger, so it is important to follow their cues rather than forcing them to eat when they are not interested or ready for a feeding.  It is best to try and keep a newborn awake during feedings in order to ensure that they receive the proper nutrition. 

The Baby's Body Will Naturally Regulate


It’s no secret that newborns sleep a lot. But there are a few simple strategies on how to keep a newborn awake for feeding you can implement in order to rouse them enough to feed while they are still young. By allowing them time to wake on their own, lightly tapping or rubbing their face and body, or speaking to them in a calming voice, you can get your baby settled and taking nourishment without too many unnecessary hurdles.

The key is to remain consistent and gentle when making an effort to keep them awake for more than just sleeping. Keeping your newborn well-fed is essential for the health of not only your baby but the entire family as well. So, with the right techniques and understanding of your baby’s needs, you should have no problem successfully navigating these early days of feeding your infant.

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Loren Jones

Hi, my name is Loren. I live with my husband and 4 lovely kiddos in the Eastern part of San-fransisco. I have a smart beautiful,curious 6 year old daughter, a handsome 11-year-old son, an intelligent and tech geek 15 years old son and a creative, artistic 12-year-old stepson. With each of my kids being five years apart, I feel that I’m now continually phasing in and out of each stage of parenting! I’ve learned a lot about the way children learn and behave, especially in a school setting with regards to curriculum. I enjoy sharing that insight through my writing and hope that it can help others.

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