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When To Wake a Sleeping Baby

When To Wake A Sleeping Baby
Alex Warrack

Alex Warrack

You may have heard to “never wake a sleeping baby.”

Parents are often flabbergasted when we tell them during a sleep consultation that they may need to wake their baby up at times. We usually hear a popular baby sleep myth, “BUT, you should never wake a sleeping baby!”

But as certified child sleep consultants, we have four good reasons to wake a sleeping baby. Here they are…

1.    Waking Your Newborn for Safety Reasons

During the newborn phase some babies can sleep for long stretches of time. Check with your pediatrician, but until your baby is cleared to sleep for longer stretches at night, you’ll want to wake your baby to feed at the intervals the pediatrician recommends.

Also, during the day, if your baby is napping longer than 2.5 hours, you should wake your little one so they don’t miss a feed, which they will need to make up at night. but if baby hasn’t fed in 2-3 hours, wake your baby to feed.

Also, even though you may wake your newborn, if they are sleeping in an unsafe position, you should reposition your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all babies sleep on their backs until they can roll front to back and back to front.

2.    Napping Too Long

Once your baby has passed the newborn phase and you have established a nap schedule, you may need to wake your baby from naps if they are going much longer than 2 hours.

If babies sleep too long for any of their naps it can:

  • Impact night sleep
  • Cause early morning wake ups
  • Make it difficult for your baby to settle into other naps if they sleep too long during one nap period
  • Push bedtime too late if your baby sleeps too long for the second nap or the cat nap

Most babies need somewhere between 3-4 hours of day time sleep to meet their daytime sleep needs.

3.    Sleeping Too Late in the Morning

To keep your little one on an age-appropriate nap schedule, if your baby is still sleeping by 7:00 am, you’ll want to wake your baby up.

I know 7 am may sound early but wake times in between 6:00 – 7:00 am are biologically normal and set your baby up for success with taking naps during the day.

If baby sleeps too late in the morning, they will not be ready for their 1st nap which can push nap 2 later and bedtime later (which ultimately may lead to bedtime battles and night wakings).

4.    Keeping an Age-Appropriate Bedtime

We would want to wake your baby from their second nap or cat nap to ensure they have enough sleep pressure to be able to fall asleep at bedtime, which is ideally around 6:30-7:00 pm.

For babies on a 2 nap schedule, if they are sleeping much past 3:00 pm, it may make it harder for them to settle into sleep at an age appropriate time.

For babies on a 3 nap schedule, if they are sleeping much past 4:30-5:00 pm, an age appropriate bedtime may be challenging.

When your baby’s bedtime pushes too late, it can cause your little one to get overtired. This can create difficulty settling to sleep, night wakings, more restless sleep and early morning wake ups.

If you want more insight into timing bedtime and how much sleep your child needs…

>>Download the printable Sleep Needs & Ideal Bedtime Chart<<

I hope these suggestions of when to wake a sleeping baby help!

If you need help establishing healthy sleep habits for your little one, please schedule a discovery call so we can learn more and talk about ways we can work together to achieve your sleep goals.

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