When You Absolutely Should Wake A Sleeping Baby
Updated: Jan 22
If you’re expecting or have been a parent for any length of time, I’m sure someone took it upon themselves to give you a little free advice. Sometimes this is welcome and helpful, and other times it’s hard to do more than thank them for their input, and completely disregard what they’re saying. Been there, done that.
Sometimes waking a sleeping baby is the right decision.
The old saying “Never wake a sleeping baby” is the type of advice new parents are given that makes me want to pull my hair out. New parents who don’t know better, trust others that have gone before them. But in this case, that advice belongs in the trash. Instead, it should be “Rarely wake a sleeping baby.”
There are few reasons to wake a baby (Like getting them up because you have to leave the house, which is the WORST feeling, right?), but the times that you do need to are for really good reasons.
Brand New Babies
Life with a newborn is fairly uncomplicated, but it’s so darn exhausting! I’m a big fan of “Eat, Play, Sleep” when your baby is fresh, and one of the big reasons for that is because feeds are so important. Sometimes breastfeeding is a real challenge in the early days, so it requires a lot of practice for both of you. You’re trying to get your milk supply off on the right foot, help your baby gain that good weight, and of course make sure they’re properly fed! Tiny tummies need filling frequently, so you’ll be spending a lot of time feeding your newborn - no matter how they’re fed. Because calories are especially important at this stage, that also means your new bundle can’t go long stretches without being fed - and that might mean waking them from a nap to get a feed in.
As always, talk to your child’s pediatrician first. Sometimes they can go longer stretches throughout the night without being woken, but if weight gain is a concern, it may require setting an alarm - sorry to be the bearer of bad news! During the day, I recommend not letting your babe go more than 3 hours without a feed. Making sure they get enough calories throughout the day makes for a happy, well-fed baby, and also helps them sustain those longer stretches at night. No one can be expected to sleep well if they’re hungry, right?
If you’re a few months down the road, and your sweet baby isn’t as newly minted, the reasons for waking a baby change. In order to encourage solid sleep at night, you want to be careful that your babe doesn’t sleep too much during the day. It’s a fine balance, I know. Since a newborn isn’t on a stiff sleep schedule, you don’t have to give it much thought. But once they’re around 4+ months, do yourself a favour and keep an eye on the time.
There are 2 reasons why you’ll want to do this:
Too much sleep early in the day = struggling to nap later in the day
Later naps become super short = overtired at bedtime
A long morning nap might sound glorious, but you’ll end up paying for it for the rest of the day. Too much sleep early on eats up the majority of the needed daytime sleep. Then your baby goes looooong stretches in between naps throughout the day because they don’t feel as tired. Unfortunately, those long sleepless stretches create a perfect storm for being overtired and not wanting to go down at bedtime - even though that’s the very thing they need! An overtired kiddo leads to a tough time putting them down for the night, interrupted sleep in the night, and early morning wakings - and that’s not fun for anyone!
The old saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is straight gold when it comes to baby sleep. Nipping overtiredness in the bud takes care of dealing with the Witching Hour, losing your sanity at bedtime, unnecessary overnight wakings, and getting up waaaay too early in the morning. If you ask me, being diligent about their daytime sleep is definitely worth it!
I won’t sugarcoat it and tell you that you’ll never have a nap get away on you, or things will always be completely ideal for your baby’s sleep needs. This is real life! But I will tell you that doing your best to help your baby get the restful sleep they need will consistently result in restorative naps and longer stretches of overnight sleep. Well rested babies wake up happier and go to sleep easier, and that’s just about all you can ask for!
If you want to join the hundreds of families I’ve helped get sleeping again, book your call! Join people like Stephanie who said “Sleep training with Andrea changed our lives!” and went from feeling like she was out of options, to sleeping through the night and waking up to a super happy little guy! Is there a better feeling?
I’m always here for you, but you’ve gotta reach out! Can’t wait to help you be your best self again!