Baby Sleep Myths Busted: Never Wake A Sleeping Baby

Never Wake A Sleeping Baby

Welcome to the fourth installment in my 5 part baby sleep myth series.  Today’s topic is sure to raise of couple of eyebrows.  Rightly so. For so long we’ve been told to let our children sleep. I remember when I was younger hearing some of the older ladies in church telling the new moms to let their babies sleep no matter what. “Never wake a sleeping baby”, they would say. “Or you’ll have a mess on your hands!” And who were they to argue? They were new mothers looking for advice desperately wanting to avoid the sleep deprivation horror stories they’d heard so many times before.

Myth #4:  Never Wake A Sleeping Baby

Real Deal:  It’s totally frustrating. Once you get your baby fed and burped it’s time for another nap. And the process to get that nap to happen is just that…a process. You have to soothe, rock, bounce and pray your child falls asleep.  Then once they FINALLY fall asleep and you know that if you move, sneeze or any make the slightest noise your baby will wake up and the whole thing will start all over again.  It’s exhausting for both of you.  So relieved your baby is sleeping, you allow them to sleep as long as they can.  You figure that it’s better they stay asleep than be up all day fussing and cranky.  But what if told you that waking your baby up from naps and keeping them on a regular schedule could be the key to unlocking your child’s sleep.  

I just spent 45 minutes getting my baby to sleep.  Why on earth would I want to wake them up?

If your little one sleeps too much during the day, they’ll be likely to wake during the night.   Also babies who sleep too much during the day, miss feedings which also leads to night wakings.  They still need those calories and will wake up at 3 am to get ’em. Now I want to go on record and say that young babies (under 3 months) shouldn’t be expected to sleep through the night right away.  They need to wake up and eat to ensure they are gaining the proper weight.  Some babies get the hang of eating more quickly than others and can sleep through the night at 3-4 months. Others need a little longer. Remember, it’s not a competition.  If your best friend’s baby was sleeping through the night at 2 months and yours is 5 months, still up all times of the night and skipping naps…take a breath.  You’re little one will sleep through the night. I promise.

My general rule of thumb is the younger the child, the more sleep they need.  A 3 month old should nap around 4-5 hours a day. Babies between 6-12 months should nap around 3 hours a day.  To protect your child’s schedule, you may need to wake them up.  Let’s say that your 3 month old baby wakes everyday at 7 am. That would place their first nap around 8:30 am with their wake time being around 10:00 am. What we’re doing here is allowing our kids to sleep around 1.5 hours and then waking them up to keep their schedule intact.  Now here’s one caveat. If your child is teething, sick or hit a developmental milestone, you will need to be more flexible with nap duration.  They may need to sleep a bit longer to get well.  It’s not set in stone. Please use the above example as a guideline.

One last thing. If your baby only sleeps for short bursts (i.e. 45 minutes or shorter) then I would focus on stretching their sleep duration before setting a schedule in place.  While a schedule is important, it makes no since if your child isn’t developmental ready to follow it.  

I’d love to hear from you!  

In the comments below, tell me your take on this sleep myth.  Have you ever awakened your baby from a peaceful sleep? What was the outcome? 

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