You should never wake a sleeping baby (without a good reason!) – Many new-borns are serial sleepers. All they do is sleep, wake for a feed, cry for a bit, cause an enormous stink, and then it’s straight back to sleep again. It’s certainly a hard life for them. (Who are we kidding? It’s a dream life. How are they still crying?)
As a new parent, you’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase “Never wake a sleeping baby!” at some point or other. It makes sense to not wake them, right? A sleeping baby means that you can catch up on some much-needed snoozing for yourself, or at least focus a little bit of time on all the other things you need to be doing, or the tasks you seemingly forget about when you’re taking care of your baby. Whether it’s tidying up, eating a meal, or even going to the bathroom and just having a moment of peace. And sure, letting a sleeping baby, well, sleep…it certainly sounds like the right thing to do – but is it really?
The advice is, of course, given with the best of intentions, however, it can result in many sleep disturbances for your baby during the evenings, which can also have an impact on the parent’s sleep schedule, as well as the rest of the household. And you know what that means? Everyone’s grumpy.
New-borns and the importance of sleep
During the first few months of their life, allowing your new-born to sleep for as long as they please obviously makes perfect sense. Between 3-6 months of age, a regular day/night circadian rhythm tends to develop in your young one, meaning that their time spent sleeping throughout the day should shorten, whilst they begin to get the vast majority of their sleep throughout the night.
Young or old, the more you sleep during the day, the likelihood of being able to sleep in the evening becomes less and less. This applies to everyone and is the reasoning behind why it’s important to maintain a balanced sleep schedule. Factors such as having to go to work in the morning will require you to have a substantial number of hours sleep. Although it’s true that you should let new-borns sleep on mostly their own terms, as mentioned, anytime after 6 months old and you should be trying to reduce the amount of time spent napping throughout the day. Trust us, it’s in your best interest when you’re getting ready to go back to work!
Listed below are reasons you should wake a sleeping baby, otherwise, it’s perfectly fine to let them catch enough Zs for the both of you. Let’s face it, they’re making up for the sleep you’re lacking. Of course, if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it. These are just some methods and suggestions to help with any sleeping issues, so, take the advice with a pinch of salt. You are the parent at the end of the day!
When should you wake a sleeping baby?
When it’s time to feed your new-born
When you first welcome your baby into the world, you’re encouraged by the nurses to feed your baby every 3 hours. After a couple of weeks, many paediatricians will tell you that you don’t necessarily have to continue to wake your baby, as long as they’re growing at a healthy rate and have regained their birth weight. If you’re concerned about this, check in with your paediatrician who will help monitor your baby’s weight, which will enable you to gain an understanding of whether or not they still need night feeds.
When naps begin to disrupt bedtime
If you’re going to nap during the day, then chances are, you’re going to struggle with sleeping through the night. Yes, babies do need more sleep, but the older they get – the less they need. As we’ve mentioned, try to reduce the time spent napping throughout the day after around 6 months old. Again, speak with your paediatrician. Maybe even put together a sleep log, so you can keep track of your child’s sleep schedule. Sleeping all day and staying awake through the night isn’t fun for anyone – and if you’re young one is awake through the night, chances are – you will be too!
When you are trying to establish a sleep schedule for your baby
For the lucky ones out there, your baby may have a sleep schedule that runs like clockwork. If your little one is sleeping during the day, and sleeping right through in the evening’s then well done! Give yourself a pat on the back. In fact, give your baby a pat on the back. In order to keep that sleep schedule, you should consider keeping naps limited to a certain amount of time if they’re taking 3 naps during the day. For instance, when your baby is taking their first nap of the day, you might find that anything lasting longer than 1 hour and 30 minutes is a good amount of time for them to still take a second nap when scheduled. A third nap should be limited to around 40 minutes if you want to ensure that your baby sleeps through bedtime.
When you find that you’re baby is experiencing day and night confusion
Day and night confusion can be a tricky time for many parents and is more often than not the first challenge when it comes to sleep that new parents are faced with. A baby that has the ‘sleep all day, party all night’ attitude. ‘Night owl’ is one term that could be used to describe them, ‘nightmare’ is another for the parents out there who are having to put in the nightshift to get this party animal to sleep. An easy and simple solution for this is to make sure that days are filled with lots of light and fun-filled activities, and the evenings are dark and more subdued. This confusion is usually resolved within the first few weeks of life. Some other things you can try to help teach your baby the difference between night-time and daytime as early as possible include:
- Keeping the lights low in the evening
- Keeping your voices lower in the evening
- Reducing the time spent playing with your baby in the evening
- Try not to change your baby unless they absolute need it come night-time
- Putting your baby in their cot as soon as they’ve been changed and had their night-time feed
Gradually, your baby will begin to understand that evening’s are for sleeping. The partying can come when they’re a bit older!
When you find that your baby’s nap has lasted longer than 3 hours
It’s tempting to allow your baby to sleep longer than three hours, because let’s face it, having that amount of time to yourself is amazing, so why wouldn’t you let them carry on sleeping for a little bit longer? Well, naps that tend to run longer than three hours are usually a sign that your baby is crashing. This can be a result of not having sufficient sleep, or shorter naps earlier in the day. Allowing your baby to take longer naps than necessary is also going to confuse your baby and their sleep cycles. Thus it can be then extremely difficult to build up the amount of time spent awake before bed, or for their next nap.
How to wake a sleeping baby
We get it. Waking a sleeping baby when they look so calm, peaceful, and adorable can seem like an impossibly cruel thing to do. However, it will be worth it in the end when you establish a solid sleeping pattern for your baby, and in turn, a solid sleeping pattern for yourself. Obviously, the time will come when you need to feed them, and maybe you’re considering letting them sleep a bit longer because you don’t want to wake them. Below are some ways to help you wake your baby in a soft and gentle way, so as not to startle them. And ensure that they wake up in a good mood! Anyone out there who has ever been woken up from a nap can perhaps resonate with this!
- Gently rub your baby on the back
- Speak softly through your baby’s monitor to try and cause them to stir
- Play some soft music through your baby’s monitor
- Open up any curtains and let some natural light into the room
- Softly tickle their feet
Products that can help support with sleep.
We know you’ve probably already spent a hell of a lot of money on buying lots of new things for your baby. However, if you’re looking for some extra items to help support your baby with their sleep, then below we have listed a few products that could help make night-time a little easier.
Tommee Tippee Dreammaker Baby Sleep Aid
The Tommee Tippee Dreammaker Baby Sleep Aid has been developed by sleep scientists. The light and sleep aid relaxes your baby, and helps them to fall into a deep sleep as well as prolonging the length of their sleep. The pink noise has been built to replicate the natural sounds of the womb, comforting your baby and encouraging them to fall asleep faster to a natural, more familiar sound. The red light allows for the production of melatonin, which just so happens to be the sleep hormone. It’s a soothing, warm glow that won’t disturb your baby or you!
Baby Sleep Soother Sweet Dreamers Ewan Deluxe
This best-selling baby sleep soother has won many awards, and is a snuggly bedtime companion for your baby. Another product that uses sleep science in order to help them settle much quicker and fall into a peaceful sleep for longer. Ewan the Sheep again replicated the comfort of the womb, including the sound of a beating heart and the soft ‘shhhh’ of a real human voice, amongst other soothing sounds. There is also a nightlight, and a white & pink noise sound machine. Ewan is also machine washable thanks to his removable pod. Perfect for any inevitable accidents!
Zed by Rockit
The Zed by Rockit comes with various vibrating modes. All you need to do is place Zed by your baby’s feet and choose from sixth soothing vibration settings. Babies often fall asleep during car journeys, so this product replicates exactly that! Vibrations will reply into your baby’s mattress, calming them and helping them fall into a deep slumber. The Zed by Rockit will also improve your baby’s sleep, as well as the amount of time spent napping. Zed provides a familiar and calming environment, that you can take with you on the go! Well, maybe no need to use it in the car! It’s completely safe for babies from birth and has its own night light.
Baby Shusher – Sleep Miracle Smoother Sound Machine
This Baby Shusher is perfect for helping your baby fall back to sleep. It uses a real, human voice to soothe your baby back to sleep with a gentle ‘shhh’. It comes with an adjustable volume control, helping your baby sleep without keeping everyone else in the household awake! It’s portable, and simple to use.
So, should you ever wake a sleeping baby? Some will tell you not to, yet others tell you it’s a myth. It’s important to try and figure out what’s best for your baby, as well as your own schedule as young parents. It is perfectly fine to wake your baby if you think they are sleeping too long or are due a feed. And as long as you do it in a calm and gentle way (we don’t recommend setting up a drumkit next to your baby’s cot or blasting Metallica out from the Alexa right next to where they sleep), then your baby will begin to fall into a routine that works best for you and all the family.
What is your favourite Baby aid to make sure your loved one stays asleep? Let us know in the comments!