The old adage, ‘never wake a sleeping baby’, is one of the many pieces of parenting advice that should have been left in the 20th century. Here’s why.
Picture this: your baby is finally asleep, and you’re tiptoeing around the house, trying not to make a sound. You’ve probably heard the age-old advice, “never wake a sleeping baby.” It’s a phrase that’s been passed down through generations, almost like a sacred commandment. But what if I told you that this conventional wisdom might not always hold true? What if waking your baby from their slumber could actually be beneficial for their overall health and sleep routine?
First, let’s acknowledge that the advice to never wake a sleeping baby has its merits. Babies need a substantial amount of sleep for proper growth and development, and interrupting their sleep unnecessarily can have its drawbacks. However, there are exceptions to this rule, and it’s essential to recognize them. Waking your baby under the right circumstances might just be the key to improved sleep patterns. Here are 4 times that waking your sleeping baby might lead to better sleep overall and a happier, more well-rested family.
- Establishing a Consistent Sleep Schedule: One key reason to wake your baby occasionally is to establish a regular sleep schedule. Babies thrive on routine, and waking them at the same time each day can help set a consistent sleep pattern, making nights more predictable for everyone. This is absolutely not a necessity, but can often be a helpful way to establish some semblance of routine. This works really well for some babies, and for others, it doesn’t work at all. Know your baby and don’t be afraid to test it out (even if it ultimately fails). Live and learn!
- Feeding and Nourishment: Babies often need to feed every few hours to ensure they receive the essential nutrients for growth. This is particularly true for babies receiving human milk, as it metabolizes faster than formula, meaning that they need to eat more frequently. Waking a sleeping baby for a feeding is a responsible choice, promoting their well-being and preventing hunger-related discomfort, particularly if milk supply is not yet established, or if baby has fallen off of their growth curve at any point.
- Day-Night Confusion: Some babies struggle with differentiating between day and night. Waking them during the day and keeping lights and noise to a minimum during nighttime feeds can help resolve this issue, ultimately improving their sleep routine. In this same vein, exposing them to natural light in the first 30 minutes of their day, while simultaneously controlling blue light (we’re talking sunlight, household lighting, even nightlights!) in the hours leading up to bedtime can help regulate circadian rhythm, which is typically not set in the first few months of life.
- Nap Length Management: Babies who take excessively long naps during the day might find it challenging to sleep at night. Gentle awakenings from extended daytime naps can aid in ensuring that babies (and toddlers, too!) don’t get more daytime sleep than they need, which can result in false starts, split nights, and early morning rises.
Specifically, if your baby is on a three nap schedule, I always recommend waking them after 30 minutes for the third nap of the day. The third nap helps to bridge the gap between nap 2 and bedtime, but if it’s too long, you’re likely to see resistance when it’s time to go to bed.
If your baby is on a two nap schedule and is either getting too much overall daytime sleep, is fighting the second nap, or if bedtime is getting pushed too late; I’d recommend waking baby from their first nap to ensure you have enough space left in the day to fit in the second nap without getting too close to bedtime.
Finally, on a one nap schedule, as your child gets older and their sleep needs lessen, capping their nap by waking them can help to ensure that night sleep isn’t interrupted, and that they don’t drop their nap before they are ready.
While all of these are helpful ways to make parent led changes to your child’s sleep, always remember that taking a holistic approach to sleep helps to ensure that we are addressing any potential underlying challenges that may be exacerbating sleep struggles. Plus, a holistic, bespoke approach ensures that we are finding sleep solutions that meet your family’s unique needs, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach common in sleep training.
With guidance from Sleeping Beauties, you can expect:
- Expert advice and support from a certified sleep and parent coach.
- Personalized sleep plans designed for your baby’s age, temperament and sleep patterns.
- Strategies to address common sleep challenges, including night waking and difficulty falling asleep.
- Improved sleep for both your baby and your family, leading to a happier, healthier household.
- Sleep solutions that never ask you to use separation to ‘teach’ your child to sleep. That means no sleep training, ever.
Don’t let outdated advice keep your family from the restful nights you all deserve. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation with a holistic sleep coach and start your journey to a well-rested, harmonious home. Say goodbye to the myth and hello to a peaceful night’s sleep!