Should You Wake a Sleeping Baby?

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘never wake a sleeping baby’?

I know I have! and I am sure you’ve found yourself wondering whether or not to wake your baby when they’re sleeping over their usual nap time. But I'm here to tell you that you can (and sometimes you should) wake up sleeping baby! Now is this good news or bad news? I know that a sleeping baby sounds like a dream because so often we’re trying to get our babies to sleep for longer and stop catnapping, but over sleeping babies do exist and they can be just as challenging because you may not know whether or not to wake them! The idea of a little extra down-time while the baby sleeps (a quiet cup of tea, a relaxing shower or even getting some cooking or housework done) is very tempting and your reluctance to wake your sleeping baby is understandable. But there are times when you should wake your sleeping baby. Why? Because we all know that one of the secrets to getting your baby to sleep well is to follow the recommended awake windows for their age. However, if your baby is sleeping longer than what is recommended for them, there’s a chance that it’s going to push back their next nap or their bedtime and that is not a situation that anyone wants to be in right? Plus it's so important for their health and milk supply during this time to ensure they are not sleeping through their feedings times.

So if your baby has been sleeping for too long, I recommend you get them up because:

  • Babies need so much sleep in a 24 hour period and if we let them get too much of it during the day, it will take away from their night sleep and you'll find yourself up all night with them too. Especially if naps with your little one are like clockwork and bedtime is a simple process you're going to want to stick to that perfect sleep schedule as much as you can!
  • The same applies for calories. If we let these long nap patterns happen throughout the day, then your baby will end up essentially missing feeds and want to make up for this overnight. Especially in the early newborn days, as you’re going to want to be feeding your growing bub pretty consistently.
  • It also helps with day/night confusion. You don’t want your newborn sleeping all day and then up every few hours over night right? Waking them during the day if they’re sleeping too long will expose them to natural light and help to set their internal body clock.
However, the exception would be if your baby is sick. It's definitely great to let them rest and recover by sleeping a little longer. However you also need to keep them hydrated so you still may want to wake them up for their normal feeding times. The tricky part is knowing how to wake them up without dealing with a tantrum and they key here is to do it slowly and quietly. Don't suddenly appear in the room with the door wide open and the lights suddenly on because you could startle your baby.

Instead, follow these tips to wake them:

  • Open their door
  • Turn off their white noise
  • Walk quietly by their room a few times to see if they stir
  • Massage their hands, feet, arms and back
  • Let a little light into the room (but not soo much to startle them)
  • Be sociable! Talk or sing gently to them one they've opened their eyes
Remember though, that some babies will just wake quietly and calmly and others not so much. But also, as I always tell you, every baby is different and that's okay. Just see how it goes, you know them best and you'll know the right way to comfort them if needed, even if it's just a cuddle from mum. I know that it can seen counterintuitive to wake you little ones but it honestly makes it so much easier to form consistent sleep patterns. Plus you don’t want to loose all the hard work you’ve put in. If you need help with knowing the recommended awake windows for your little one, check out this blog post, or let me help you out with a sleep program. I’ve got a suitable program form newborns to the age of four so there is help for whenever your little one is at. Check them out here!
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