Is it wrong to wake a sleeping baby?
The age old saying ‘don’t wake a sleeping baby’ isn’t necessarily true, I know it might feel crazy waking your baby or toddler after working so hard to get them to sleep longer but in some cases, not waking your baby can lead to other sleep problems.
Here are some reasons you should wake your baby:
If your baby is sleeping in an unsafe manner, you should risk waking them to move them to a safer sleeping position. The safest way for a baby to sleep is on their back in a clear cot or sleep space, free from bumpers, toys, and pillows. For more information on safe sleeping see the Lullaby trust website.
Naps are too long!
Apart from newborn babies, your baby or toddlers nap should not exceed 3 hours total for a day on average. There will be exceptions (for example if your child is unwell) but generally if your child’s naps are too long during the day, it will impact their sleep at night, this is because the total amount of sleep during a 24-hour period will remain consistent.
If you let your child sleep longer during the day because they sleep poorly throughout the night, then it could reinforce the very problem you are trying to resolve.
Night sleep is more beneficial than daytime sleep so try to focus on tackling the issue of your baby sleeping poorly at night and keep daytime naps to no more than 3 hours in total.
Long waking at night!
If you have a child whose schedule is being thrown off by waking for long periods during the night, or insomnia, the worst thing you can do is let them sleep in late the next morning. If it’s the odd day here or there then of course, let them sleep in but if your toddler is staying awake for long periods night after night, try to be proactive in sorting out their schedule.
Although there are a few exceptions, long waking at night is usually caused by a schedule problem, especially if they are sleeping enough, but in multiple at the wrong times. Letting a child sleep in will only exacerbate the schedule problem.
Wake to manage nap transition!
Along the same lines of naps getting too long, sometimes right before a nap transition, it is necessary to manage your child naps by waking him from one of his naps to allow time for a later nap or to stop bedtime from being “too late.”
Nap transitions can be difficult, babies or toddlers who are over-tired tend to have more difficulty falling asleep at bedtime and staying asleep all night. Most of the time, bedtimes should be between 6 and 8 p.m. for most babies older than 3-4 months old and young toddlers. There are exceptions and all families need to find what works for their specific dynamics, but most babies have a biological need/rhythm to go to sleep early and wake early. Quite often, a baby waking too early is due to their bedtime being too late.