If you have young children chances are you have heard the old adage “never wake a sleeping baby”. While this advice may be well intended you may want to modify it a bit. There are, in fact, times when it is not only ok, but actually beneficial to wake your sleeping baby. ..
When is a good idea to wake your baby?
#1 Newborns may need to be awakened to feed if they sleep too long. Each baby is different but until baby gets back to her original birth weight and continues to gain normally many pediatricians will ask you to wake your baby every 4 hours to feed even at night.
#2 In the mornings- once baby is about 6-8 weeks old you can set your intention for her wake time. Decide what time you want to start your day and begin waking your baby at this time (anytime between 6-7a is appropriate). This allows both you and baby to organize and structure your day and helps baby begin to internalize her daily routine.
#3 To protect the next sleep- if your baby takes such long naps (lucky you!) that she has difficulty falling asleep for the next sleep period you may want to limit nap times. For example if she goes down for her afternoon nap at 1pm and sleeps past 4 but then lies awake in her crib for an extended period of time before falling asleep at bedtime you may want to limit that nap to 3 or 3:30. The large majority of consolidated sleep should be happening at night but some babies, if allowed, will make up for poor night time sleep during the day. Limiting naps will help correct this.
There are times when it is ok to let baby sleep….
When should you not wake a sleeping baby?
#1 Diaper changes- after baby is about 6 or 8 weeks she no longer needs her wet diaper changed unless she has a severe case of diaper rash or other skin breakdown. Dirty diapers should be changed but do so with as little light, stimulation and interaction as possible.
#2 To give fever reducing medication- fever itself is typically not dangerous so waking a sick child who is sleeping restfully to give them a fever reducer is usually not necessary unless she has a history of febrile seizures or otherwise indicated by your pediatrician.
#3 To protect bedtime in a sick child- children who are ill need extra rest and care so allow your little one to nap as long as they want when sick and return to your routine and schedule as soon as they are well to avoid any sleep issues.