How Long Can a Newborn Go Without Eating? What To Expect

As a new mother, it can be overwhelming to think about all the questions that arise when taking care of your newborn. From how often they sleep to what type of food they should eat, there’s so much to learn.

How long can a newborn go without eating?

Newborns typically need to feed every 2-3 hours but can go up to 4-5 hours without eating during the night. However, it’s important to monitor their weight gain and overall health, as prolonged periods without feeding can lead to dehydration and other complications.

It’s important information to know since something as seemingly minor as overfeeding or underfeeding could have lasting implications for your baby’s health. In this post, I will answer the most asked question and offer some tips on how you can use the info for optimal feeding.

How Long Can a Newborn Go Without Eating

Understanding The Sleep and Feeding Habits Of Newborns

Newborn babies sleep for about 16 hours a day, broken up into smaller naps and one long stretch at night.

However, not all babies sleep through the night from birth. It’s common for most babies to wake up every few hours to eat.

Feeding habits can also vary greatly from baby to baby. Some breastfed babies or even formula-fed babies may want to eat every two hours or so, while others may only nurse once every four hours.

The best way to figure out what works for your little one is to experiment and see what they respond well to.

Modifications You Can Expect In Newborn’s Eating Habits

The changes in the newborn are a thrilling time for parents to experience.

According to the CDC, here are some of the most common modifications you should anticipate as your baby gets older:

  • When your baby is full at every mealtime, feeding time will become less frequent. That means you don’t have to feed your 2-month-old infant the same way you fed him/her when they were a newborn.
  • The feeding duration for a breastfeeding infant is usually every two to four hours.
  • The infant feeding session is frequently adjusted based on the time of day. It might take them longer at other times, or it may be fast.
  • Some infants cluster feed or eat every hour at intervals.
  • When babies are happy and full, they become sleepy.

Breastfeeding Vs Bottle Feeding

It is suggested that infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months. After they start eating solid foods, babies should continue to breastfeed for at least a year and probably longer if desired.

For some new moms, breastfeeding isn’t an option or the best choice. Typically, a mother’s comfort level with breastfeeding and her lifestyle are taken into account when deciding whether to breastfeed or bottle-feed a baby.

In certain situations, breast milk may not be suggested for a mom and her child. If you have any doubts about whether to breastfeed or formula-feed your baby, see your doctor. Make sure you use the right formula for your baby.

Should Newborns Get Nutritional Supplements?

Breast milk is perfect for newborns since it contains all the necessary vitamins and readily absorbed iron.

A healthy baby being fed by a healthy mother does not require extra vitamins or nutrition supplements, except vitamin D.

Vitamin D should be given to breastfed infants within the first few days of life, continuing until they obtain adequate vitamin D-fortified formula or milk (after 1 year of age).

Vitamin B12 supplements are required if you’re a nursing mother who follows a vegetarian diet that does not include animal products.

How Often To Feed Newborn?

During the first weeks of life, your baby will nurse about 8 to 12 times each day. Breastfeeding should be on-demand and should occur every 1–3 hours.

Newborns will nurse less frequently as they get older, with longer intervals between feedings.

When newborns are fed with formula, they will generally take around 2–3 ounces every 2–4 hours. As a precaution make sure to check the expiry date of the formula before feeding.

At 4 months, they could require up to 6 ounces for each feeding. If you are still exclusively breastfeeding and the pediatrician advises you to start introducing solids.

How To Know Your Baby Is Getting Enough Food Every Day?

Many parents-to-be are concerned about whether their babies are receiving enough to eat.

Signs That Your Baby Is Getting Enough Feeding

When they’re getting enough to eat, you’ll notice:

  • There are a lot of wet diapers.
  • When your baby is feeling comfortable on the new diet, he or she should be growing at a steady rate. Your child should gain between 4 and 7 ounces each week until they are six months old, then 3 to 5 ounces every week after that.
  • Your infant is energetic and pleased. A healthy kid will appear awake and active. They’ll also appear calm between feeds.

Signs That Your Baby Isn’t Eating Enough – Poor Feeding In Newborn

  • In their diapers, you’ll notice orange crystals or yellow pee.
  • They would rather go to bed than eat.
  • They won’t latch on and pull away from you during breastfeeding.
  • They become moody right after feeding.
  • They only wet a few diapers.

This is when you should worry about your newborn not eating.

How To Know If The Baby Is Hungry? 

Babies can sleep for four hours without eating anything during the first four weeks of life.

A hungry baby will usually let you know by crying. Taking your baby’s hunger signals into account can assist you in calming a distressed infant so that they may eat.

Some of these indications might include:

  • They are salivating.
  • Sticking out their tongue or licking their lips.
  • Their mouths are generally open.
  • Irritability.

Should You Feed Your Baby Every Three Hours If They Aren’t Hungry?

It is sometimes necessary to feed your infant after every three hours, even if they do not appear to require it:

  • When your baby is slow to gain weight. By the age of one year, a baby should have tripled his/her birth weight.
  • Premature birth of your baby. 

If your baby isn’t gaining weight very frequently, you shouldn’t wait until they wake up and signal that they’re hungry.

You should feed your baby correctly. If you have any questions about how to care for them, see your pediatrician.

How Do You Know If Your Baby Is Overeating Or Undereating?

If your baby has eaten too much, they may scream or vomit due to indigestion or burping. A pattern of overeating over many months might raise their chances of becoming obese in adulthood.

If they are not eating enough, you will notice the indications of poor feeding as previously mentioned. They may have poor weight gain or failure to thrive. This can be due to a medical condition, such as an infection, or simply not getting enough calories. 

A baby who is not gaining weight or growing should need medical attention to check for other underlying causes. If you’re concerned about your baby’s eating habits, talk to their doctor.

How Long Can A Newborn Go Without Eating?

How long do babies sleep without eating? According to standard feeding advice, newborns should be fed 10-12 times a day when they are babies.

If you’re breastfeeding your baby every two or three hours during non-feeding hours, go ahead and do so.

How to Help A Baby Sleep in the Night Without Eating?

After a certain age, your baby should be able to sleep through the night without any hunger. But if you don’t see it happening with your child, there are a few things to try:

Maintain a regular daily sleep schedule

Maintaining a bedtime routine may help both of you. For example, every day, you could begin and end your day at roughly the same times and have a regular bath time, or tummy time.

Your routine need not be rigid. As your child gets older, the specifics of your daily routine, sleep schedule, and bedtime ritual will become more regular. However, newborns are by nature unpredictable, so don’t worry if yours isn’t on a routine yet.

Assist the baby in distinguishing between day and night

Start assisting them in this area by making their daytime meal more exciting and keeping the nighttime feeding peaceful and quiet.

Should You Wake Newborns To Eat?

It’s advised that they wake up to eat every two to three hours for the first few weeks of life, or until your newborn regains the weight they lost after birth.

Newborns usually do this on their own, but in rare circumstances, they may sleep for longer. If your baby sleeps for more than four hours at any point throughout this

After the first few weeks, when babies pass their birth weight, most healthy newborns don’t need to be woken up unless they’re growing and feeding well.

How To Wake A Newborn To Eat?

Try these techniques on your baby at mealtimes if he or she is sleepy:

  • Take your time to unswaddle them.
  • Hold your baby upright and he/she will almost certainly open her eyes.
  • Turn off the lights. While it may appear to be the opposite, if your child’s eyes are too bright, he or she will be more comfortable with them shut.
  • Massage your infant’s feet, arms, back, and shoulders. Your touch might help rouse your drowsy little one.

How Long Can A Newborn Go Without Eating Before Bed?

When your baby begins nursing, make sure he receives enough time on each side to drain at least one breast, which will help ensure that he gets his fill of the fat-rich milk necessary for development.

Some newborns take 20 minutes or more to empty one breast, while others can finish in 10. Allow your baby to set the speed since he will take his time to fill up.

If you’re bottle-feeding, offer him the equivalent of one whole feeding.

Keep A Newborn Awake During Feeding Times

If he dozes off, try repeating the burping and moving him again, offering a droplet of milk on his lips, or even jiggling your breast or bottle in his mouth to get him started feeding again.

By the sixth week, your baby and you will have established a routine for eating and sleeping. 

Some newborns will need to be fed every two hours, while others will take three to four hours between feedings. Formula-fed infants may have varying feeding and sleep patterns as well.

What If My Baby Doesn’t Wake Up To Feed At Night? – Tips To Feed A Sleepy Baby

Gently nudge your baby. If your baby doesn’t respond to your nudges, try being a bit more forceful with them.

Try singing or chatting louder when waking him up, undressing him entirely, or taking him into another room to feed him as a change of location might sometimes be beneficial.

To soothe your baby and provide them the chance to feed, make sure there is plenty of skin-to-skin contact and that you’re close by.

Massaging your infant’s skin, changing their nappy, and offering them a tiny taste of milk may pique their appetite for feeding.

When Should You Wake Your Baby Other Than Feeding?

  • If you do smell poop, change them as soon as possible.
  • It usually occurs just before or after the age of two months. If a baby’s nap time is approaching and they won’t have enough time to be drowsy before going to bed, it’s a great idea to wake them up at this point.
  • To avoid excessive napping. One of the most common reasons that newborns wake up in the middle of the night or aren’t tired is because they have their days and nights confused. If you let your baby take too long to sleep, they will not be prepared to sleep as much or for as long at night.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: How long can a 1-2-month-old go without eating?

Ans: Your infant will take two to four hours of naps in the first week, weeks, or months. This is determined by whether you’re breastfeeding or formula-feeding as well as your baby’s age. When your baby reaches one to two months old, he/she sleeps for five to six-hour periods.

Q2: How long should a 2-month-old sleep at night without eating?

Ans: If your baby sleeps for more than three hours at a time, it should be fed. You should wake up your infant three to four times each day until they reach appropriate weight development, which is usually within the first several weeks.

Q3: Is it possible for a 3-month-old to sleep 12 hours without eating?

Ans: Some infants sleep for long periods at night, only taking short naps during the day at around 3 and 6 months old. A few babies sleep for 12 hours without interruption, while others function for 8 hours every day.

Q4: What if a newborn doesn’t eat every three hours?

Ans: In the first few weeks, not eating enough might cause jaundice and low blood sugar. You’ll need to increase your milk production. If you’re breastfeeding, not feeding often enough may limit your milk supply.

Q5: What happens if a newborn misses a feeding?

Ans: Do not worry; when your baby’s stomach is empty, he will demand to be fed.

Q6: Is it possible for a baby to go four hours without eating?

Ans: No, in the beginning, babies require feeding every 2 to 4 hours to ensure that they receive adequate nutrients and develop properly. This implies you may need to rouse your child to feed him.

Q7: Why is my baby sleeping so much and not eating?

Ans: Because newborns have tiny stomachs, they require immediate filling. Being held close and comfortable while breastfeeding or formula-feeding helps to put them to sleep. This may cause them to fall asleep before they are full, which can lead to waking up frequently to eat.

Q8: What should I do if my newborn won’t eat?

Ans: Babies can be fussy or refuse to eat for several causes, including – they’re tired, sick, preoccupied, or simply full. Do not force-feed your baby unless you are concerned.

Q9: Newborn slept 7 hours without feeding, is it normal?

Ans: Yes, the average duration of sleep for a newborn is around 8 to 9 hours each day and 8 hours at night. The majority wake up every three hours to feed, although this varies considerably. Some newborns may only sleep for 11 hours each day, while others might require as much as 19 hours of rest per day.

Q10: When should I stop my baby’s nighttime feeding?

Ans: The optimum age for nighttime weaning (not allowing the baby to eat throughout the night) is six months. If your youngster isn’t nursing for long or sleeping through feedings, he’s ready to give up his midnight munchies.

Q11: Who needs fewer nursing or bottle-feeding sessions?

Ans: Formula is more difficult to digest than breastmilk for newborns who have been exclusively fed with a formula for less than two months. As a result, they may require fewer feedings as compared to a breastfed baby.

Q12: How often to feed newborn?

Ans: If you can, trust that your infant knows how much food they require; never force-feed your youngster, which might lead to feeding time turning into a battle. To be clear, if you’re concerned about a refusal to eat, always contact your pediatrician.

Q13: When should I put my baby down to sleep after feeding?

Ans: This might range from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on your child’s age.

Q14: What to do if the newborn is not feeding for the first 24 hours?

Ans: If your baby is not feeding within the first 24 hours, please seek medical help as this might be indicative of a medical condition.

Q15: Why are some newborns so scared to feed?

Ans: This occurs most frequently when babies don’t receive enough skin-to-skin contact with their mother after birth or for lengthy periods. Some weary, aching, or drowsy newborns are unable to feed owing to tiredness, discomfort, or intoxication, while others can’t because they were born prematurely, sickly, or jaundiced.

Q16: What if I’m not sure when my kid is hungry?

Ans: If it takes you a long time to get used to when your baby asks for a feed, don’t worry. You are both learning together and it’s baby steps for both of you. It might be useful to know that newborns are born with several days’ worth of water and stored fat in the bank so they’ll have enough to eat until they’re ready to feed.


A newborn baby can go for hours without eating, but it must be fed every few hours afterward. If your baby is not feeding within the first 24 hours, you should seek medical help.

Newborns are born with several days’ worth of water and stored fat, so they will have enough to eat until they’re ready to feed. Trust your baby knows how much food they need and never force-feed them.

You’re both learning together and it’s baby steps for both of you. Knowing when your baby is hungry might take some time to get used to, but if you’re unsure, always contact your pediatrician.

My name is Mark Joseph, and I’m on a mission to help new parents navigate the world of parenting. With over 5 years of experience as a parenting coach, I’m here to provide you with insight into all aspects of pregnancy, childbirth, and raising your newborn baby. Instagram Linkedln Facebook

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