Please note this is not prescriptive for something you must do with your baby. Each baby and family is different. If this works for you, I’m glad to share our experience. If this isn’t something that will work for your family, I completely understand that as well.
A friend of my came over for coffee last week. We were chatting and enjoying a fabulous time sharing stories, baby sleep tips, and catching up. I told her about my crazy natural childbirth story and my secret to invisible stretch marks. Then she told me about her sister giving birth to twins on the side of the road.
It was an afternoon of epic childbirth stories.
Then I looked at the clock. It was time. My newborn daughter—4 weeks old—needed to get up from her nap.
My friend looked at me like I told her I was moving to Antarctica and said, “You wake her up?”
To which I promptly responded, “Yep, all the time.”
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With her jaw hanging open, I was tempted to offer her my hand to help her close it. Of course, I completely understood her shock and disbelief. Time and time again you hear the phrase “Never wake a sleeping baby.”
Why you should wake a sleeping baby.
It’s hard to change old habits. They stick to you like sap on tree bark. But fostering excellent sleep habits in a newborn baby starts with waking the baby up.
1. Babies need help organizing sleep.
Without help from parents guiding a baby to healthy sleep habits, a baby would sleep erratically throughout the day and night. This often leads babies to sleep as if they are college students sleeping off a weekend bender. Up all night, sleep all day.
Unfortunately, this makes for one tired mama, especially when you have other children to care for.
Here are just a few tips to help baby organize sleep:
- Limit naps to 2 – 2.5 hours during the day.
- Encourage baby to stay awake for a bit after each nap.
- Keep nap times consistent throughout the week.
2. Babies need help organizing feedings.
You want to encourage a baby to take in as many calories during the day as possible. Makes sense right? You eat enough during the day to sustain your body during the night.
Here are a few tips to help baby organize feedings:
- Feed baby immediately after waking from a nap.
- Encourage feedings a minimum of every 2.5 – 3 hours during the daytime.
- Only extend daytime feedings once baby drops night feedings.
By simply feeding more during the day, babies will naturally start to drop night feedings during the night as their little bodies allow.
3. Babies get on a predictable routine.
By waking a baby during the day and encouraging full feedings during the day time, he or she will develop a somewhat predictable newborn routine. This allows you to discover predictable times during the day to get things done, run errands, shower, care for your other children and beyond!
If you’re looking for a simple way to create pre-nap and bedtime routines for your baby, check out the baby sleep printable routine and checklist bundle.
Sample newborn and toddler routine.
I am regularly asked by readers, friends and family how we facilitate a good routine in our home. There is an easy method we use—it’s so easy anyone can do it—and it only takes a few minutes to start in your home.
This routine is for a 6 week old baby and a 28 month old toddler. Please know these times are very approximate and we are not glued to the clock. Many days, I add in another nursing session or two for comfort or hunger (always feed your baby when they are hungry). Then I offer to feed again at the next feeding time as well.
0700 – Baby wakes, eats
0730 – Toddler wakes, eats breakfast, baby plays
0800 – Baby down for nap, mom plays with toddler
0900 – Toddler to independent play (see how to do that here). Mom gets stuff done!
1000 – Baby wakes, eats, toddler has snack
1030 – Everyone heads outside to park, play group or errands are run.
1100 – Baby naps on the go.
1200 – Home for lunch.
100 – Baby wakes, eats
130 – Toddler down for nap or quiet time
200 – Baby down for nap. Everyone is sleeping…mom gets stuff done!
330 – Toddler wakes, eats snack, watches TV
400 – Baby wakes, eats, family time together
500 – Prepare dinner, kids are usually crying, ha. It’s the witching hour.
530 – Dinner as a family. Baby cat naps during this time.
700 – Bedtime routines start.
730 – Bedtime. Get ready to do it all again tomorrow.
1000 – Wake baby to feed before mom heads to bed.
10 – 7 – Night feedings as needed.
So when do you wake a sleeping baby?
There are only two basic rules to follow! Simple and easy!
- If your baby is still napping when the next feeding time rolls around, wake the baby.
- If your baby last ate more than 3 hours ago, wake the baby.
I explained all this to my friend over coffee. And while I was sharing my crazy—but totally awesome—method for waking a sleeping baby, her jaw closed and her eyes widened.
It started to make total sense to her.
Being a mom is hard. It’s easy to allow your kids to swallow your day whole. To allow them to sleep and eat and play erratically throughout the day. This is also the easiest way for this mama to go completely insane and never get anything done.
Waking a sleeping baby is a good thing. It can help create a rhythm and routine for your family, allow you to get more done in a day, and of course, maintain your sanity as a mom.
Print your free baby sleep checklist!
This post comes with a free printable baby sleep checklist to help you support longer stretches of sleep for your baby! Plus, when you grab this printable, you’ll get instant access to my free 3-day baby sleep eCourse.
Download Your Free Printable
- Download the checklist. You’ll get the printable straight to your inbox, plus get my Free 3-Day Baby Sleep eCourse!
- Print. Any paper will do the trick, but card stock would be ideal.
- Place it on your refrigerator. Use it as a quick reference and don’t forget a thing!
Want more on baby sleep?
- My Top 10 Newborn Baby Sleep Tips To Help You Get More Sleep
- The Newborn Routine That Will Help Your Baby Fall Asleep Faster
- Top 7 Challenges + Solutions for Parenting a Newborn and Toddler
- 8 Infant Sleep Facts Every Parent Should Know
Resources for baby sleep:
I've created a free email series just for you! If you are struggling with finding a routine, rhythm or schedule, this email series will help you find one that will work for YOUR family. Yes, really. I've seen my sample routines work time and time again for parents. I know it can work for you too.
This free email series will help you:
- free sample routine for your child
- learn one easy routine that will help you get more done (and keep your child happy)
- get simple hacks for managing the day with multiple kids
- get a sneak peak at a book containing 25+ sample routines and schedules