You’ve heard it over and over…”NEVER wake a sleeping baby!”. I get it. Babies are tough…and if you finally get them to sleep, why in the world would you wake them!? Well, it turns out, there actually really are some valid reasons to wake your sleeping baby.
There’s only one reason you should wake your sleeping baby during the night: If your pediatrician tells you to. Reasons why your pediatrician may tell you to are if they haven’t reached birthweight yet, are having trouble maintaining their growth curve, or if they need to take medication. Once your pediatrician gives you the all-clear, it’s time to stop waking them! We want those nighttime stretches to consolidate on their own and waking your baby to eat is not going to encourage that. And trust me, if and when your baby wakes up hungry, they’ll tell you.
The one exception to this: you have twins! If baby A wakes up to eat, it’s okay to wake baby B afterward, especially if you know they’ll be up soon anyway.
What about the daytime? Are there any reasons you should wake your baby up from naps? HECK YES!
- If it’s been more than 3ish hours since their last feed
Babies under 12 months need their feeds (whether that’s breast milk or formula) approximately every 3ish hours. If your baby doesn’t get their feeds in during the day, you better believe they will be making up those missed calories at night time. This is especially true if your newborn has their days and nights mixed around. If your baby wants to sleep super long stretches during the day, and then be up all night eating, it is especially important to wake them during the day. While it can be tempting to let your little one keep snoozing away during the day to give yourself a rest, those calories are just too important to get in.
- Too much daytime sleep
The term ‘sleep begets sleep’ is true…to a point. A well-rested baby does sleep better than an overtired baby, but there’s also a point that too much daytime sleep will take away from nighttime sleep. This is common for newborns who have their days and nights mixed around, as referenced above. Take a look at this chart (or blog) to be sure your baby is getting the appropriate amount of day and night sleep. It’s easy to get into the cycle of being up all night eating and then sleeping all day, even for older babies (this is called reverse cycling). If this is the case, limiting daytime sleep to an appropriate amount and getting those feeds in during the daytime hours will help break this frustrating cycle.
- To help maintain your routine
Sometimes we need to manipulate that nap schedule because…life. Want to coordinate your schedule to ensure multiple children are napping together? Need to time that second nap perfectly to align with school pickup? Need to limit that 3rd nap so that bedtime is consistent each night?
As long as your kiddo is still getting the sleep they need, it is perfectly reasonable to play with their naps a bit. For example- instead of two 1.5-hour naps, you may have a shorter 1-hour morning nap and a longer 2-hour afternoon nap. The result is still 3 hours of daytime sleep, but that longer second nap may mean that both your kiddos are napping at the same time.
The moral of the story? Yes, sometimes you really do need to wake your sleeping baby, and that’s ok! Giving your little one what they need during the day will only help those nights run more smoothly.
However, if your days AND your nights are a disaster- then maybe it’s time to seek some extra help. We will figure it out, together.