Should you wake your sleeping newborn from a nap?

by | Feb 13, 2020 | Sleep Challenges | 0 comments

“Never wake a sleeping baby”- the most famous saying out there.  But is it true? Should you wake a sleeping newborn from a nap? One of the moms in the My Sleeping Baby Facebook Community has a newborn baby and asked the following question: 

“What exactly is the school of thought on waking a newborn if they’re sleeping tons much during the day? My daughter is having a nice long stretch and I’m loathed to wake her.”

So, let me clarify something here.  Obviously we never want to wake a sleeping baby for the heck of it.  However, there ARE some circumstances where waking a sleeping baby is actually the best thing to do for your baby’s sleep.

Reason #1- Prevent Day-Night Confusion

What is day/night confusion? 

It is typical for newborns to experience day/night confusion, which is when they mix up their days and nights.  Newborns don’t have biological clocks (yet!), making it challenging for them to differentiate between daytime and nighttime. 

Nonetheless, there are steps you can take to help your newborn’s biological clock develop.  One of these big steps is to avoid letting your baby nap longer than 2-3 hours so that day-night confusion comes to an end. 

Reason #2- Save the baby’s biggest stretch of sleep for nighttime

This is something I learned very early on when Emunah, my oldest, was a newborn.  I immediately saw that Emunah would give me a 4-hour stretch of sleep every 24 hours.  If she ever napped longer than 3.5 hours during the day, she’d refuse to give me that longer stretch at night.  That meant I did EVERYTHING in my power to ensure her naps were never longer than 3 hours as a newborn.  That 4 hour stretch of sleep at this age is GOLD.

Three- hour naps are fine, I just don’t recommend allowing the nap to go longer than this. 

Reason #3- We don’t want your newborn skipping any feeds

Newborns are typically eating pretty frequently- especially if they’re breastfeeding.  The LAST thing you want is to have your baby skip a daytime feed as that baby will need to eat more at often at night to compensate.  Avoid this like the plague!

Here’s the reality…

Protecting your newborn’s longer stretch of sleep during the night a) means that YOU will get some uninterrupted sleep during this newborn stage; and b) helps establish healthy sleeping habits since this four-hour night sleep can eventually extend to 5, 6, 7 + hours.  Make sure you allow that to happen.  You’ll thank me for this. 

You’re welcome! 🙂

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