Should You Wake A Sleeping Baby? Our Resident Expert Baby Sleep Consultant Emily Kelly of Snoozy Sleep answers this age old question!
NEVER WAKE A SLEEPING BABY!!! You have all heard this, right? Normally from incredibly well-meaning grandparents, aunties or even friends, but is there actually any truth in this age-old piece of parenting advice? To put it quite simply, no, and I am now going to explore the reasons why I suggest waking a sleeping baby!
During the sleepy newborn stage your little one is going to sleep somewhere between 15-18 hours a day, with the way in which they take that sleep being completely sporadic.
However, a lot of newborns will happily sleep the day away, and as a result of this catch up on everything overnight (emotional connection with caregivers, feeding, awake time etc), which is why I suggest that you wake your baby every two hours to support them in balancing out their 24 hours (please note, this may need to be far more frequent if instructed to do so via a medical professional eg. If a baby is not gaining weight, a premmie, has feeding difficulties etc, then a baby may need to be woken more frequently than every two hours).
Newborn babies are designed to feed around the clock, whether bottle or breast, so your goal with your tiny baby is to gently encourage their activity to be more evenly split across both day and night.
Laying the foundations!
Around 5/6 months it becomes a lot easier to start creating a routine for your little one, and one of the first things you can do to help start laying the foundations for a good day time routine is waking your little one no later than 7am to 7.30am every morning, irrespective of how the night has gone!
The reason I, and many other sleep consultants suggest this, is because it beautifully sets the day up for subsequent naps, milk feeds and solid foods and the consistent wake time also supports the body clock in regulating itself.
On most occasions you are not going to have a regular wake time, as we all sleep and wake at different times each day depending on what our body needs. However, if your little one decides to have a lie in (wouldn’t that be lovely!) don’t be tempted to leave them.
To nap or not to nap?
As your little one continues to mature, and so does their sleep, naps may start impacting on each other and you find their day becomes unbalanced, with either too much sleep in the morning or late afternoon.
It is usually the morning nap that impacts on the lunch time nap, so waking your little one after 45 mins – 1 hour can help with ensuring there is enough homeostatic sleep pressure* for a good second nap.
Also, it is the second nap that remains once your little one transitions down to one nap in the day, so it is good practice to try and get that sleep in the middle of the day for a length of time that is biologically appropriate to your little ones age and stage.
If your little one is still on three naps a day, I would suggest capping the third nap at around 4.30/5pm at the latest. In most cases this third, “unofficial nap”, is taken around 4pm and is seen as a recharge to get your little one through to bedtime without being too tired but also without stealing too much melatonin or sleep pressure from bedtime.
So with the risk of upsetting your own mother/mother-in-law/auntie/well- meaning friend - the answer is - Yes wake the sleeping baby up!!!! Wishing all mums, dads and carers out there a good nights sleep!
PS * And if you are wondering what homeostatic sleep pressure is, here you go..... Homeostatic sleep pressure is what is required (alongside melatonin) for us to go to sleep, it is that undeniable urge to want to go to sleep. Too much of this and a baby will be overtired, too little, and they won’t be incentivised enough to go to sleep and this can result in nap resistance or cat naps.
𝑾𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒔𝒍𝒆𝒆𝒑 𝒔𝒄𝒊𝒆𝒏𝒄𝒆 𝒎𝒆𝒆𝒕𝒔 𝒎𝒐𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒔 𝒊𝒏𝒕𝒖𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏
We are so happy to have Emily blogging here at StyleMyKid. She is a OCN Level 5 Certified Infant Sleep Consultant and you can follow her @Snoozy_Sleep.
Emily has written several other blogs for us including 'Love Bombing', 'Routines - do not mean house arrest', 'Sleep Associations', 'Why sleep regressions do not exist' - find these and our other 'RE's' under Blogs/Resident Experts.
If you need more help and support to help improve your childs sleep please visit https://www.snoozysleep.co.uk