We’ve all heard it- never wake a sleeping baby. Babies need their rest, and I absolutely agree with this. If we want our baby to sleep at night, however, we need to wake them during the day. If you slept all day, would you want to sleep at night? Healthy sleep habits are those that are not only based on how much sleep we get, but when we get that sleep.
Just something to think about- We are told as adults that we are supposed to be getting 8 hours of sleep. Let’s compare two scenarios:
Scenario 1- You sleep a solid 8 hours from 10pm to 6am
Scenario 2- You sleep a solid 8 hours from 10am to 6pm
Which scenario do you want to choose? I choose #1 as 99.9999% of us would! I would be a complete mess if I chose scenario 2, because it is not the natural flow that our biological clocks are in sync with. I used to work the graveyard shift…I NEVER felt rested, no matter how much sleep I got during the day!
So now let’s consider our babies. They need the appropriate amount of sleep, and it needs to occur at the right times. Most of their sleep needs to happen at night, and they need short naps throughout the day to help them not get overtired.
Let’s get to the reasons that I will wake my sleeping baby:
Reason # 1: Establishing day from night
When babies are brought into this world, their circadian rhythms are not yet matured, and so they don’t know day from night. We have to help them get in sync. There are several things we can do to help them.
- Once you have the green light from your doctor, let them sleep as long as they can at night
- In the morning and during the day, open the curtains to let sunlight in
- Adhere to your schedule and wake them throughout the day when it is time to eat
Reason # 2: There’s only so much sleep to be had
Unless your baby is sick or going through a growth spurt, they tend to only sleep a certain amount. This varies with age, of course .
This site has a great table of appropriate hours of sleep by age. I refer to this chart quite often as it is very useful. You’ll notice, for example, that at 6 months of age a baby should be getting 14-15.5 hours of sleep in a 24hr period. If I let my baby sleep 8 hrs during the day, I’ll only be getting a maximum of 7.5hrs of sleep at night.
I want my baby to sleep 12 hrs at night, meaning I can only let her sleep around 3.5 hrs during the day. Remember it is ideal to get your baby to bed before 8pm because of the cortisol surge they get around that time-meaning any time later will potentially bring a fussy baby. Around month 3 is when I started implementing the early bedtime since you can drop the late night feed. See the month 3 schedule for more detailed information.
Reason # 3: A well rested baby is a happy baby
Well rested means that your baby is getting good nighttime sleep, and good naps. If you let them sleep late in the morning, their naps will suffer. If you let them sleep too long for naps, their nighttime sleep will suffer. There is a balance that you need to find in order to achieve good sleep across the board. Sticking to a schedule that works is key.
Reason # 4: Predictability and routines are key
If your baby is on a schedule, they know what to expect. Everyone preforms better when they have a heads up as to what their day entails and what is expected of them. Your baby will get used to sleeping when they should be sleeping, and waking when they should be up. You will be happier as well because you’ll know exactly what your day entails. You’ll be able to make and keep plans because you’ll know when your baby will be awake.
Reason # 5: You are setting the example and the rules
Just because your baby wants something, doesn’t mean they should always get it. They don’t understand the cause and effect of “if you sleep now, you won’t sleep later”, or “if you eat now, you won’t be hungry for dinner”. It is your job to set rules and boundaries as a parent, that will instill healthy habits in the future.
Reason # 6: Healthy sleep habits = healthy baby
No explanation needed, right mamas?!?