As much as we adore our babies, they are often most beautiful when they are sleeping peacefully.
This is especially true if we as parents are somewhat sleep-deprived ourselves!
The old wives tales tell us that we should never wake a sleeping baby… or should you?
Disturbing the slumber of your snoozing baby can feel rather counter-intuitive, but there are times when it’s necessary for the bigger picture.
So yes, you can wake a sleeping baby. More than that, at times you should wake a sleeping baby!
Let’s look at some examples of how capping day naps can be a highly effective tool to ensure that your baby’s sleep schedule stays on track.
Why Wake A Sleeping Baby?
Should You Wake Your Baby From A Nap?
In this case, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In other words, if you have got a routine that works for you – i.e. your baby sleeps during the night, wakes at a time that fits your schedule, and naps during the day according to your routine - then great! You don’t need to make any adjustments.
But if you are finding things are a bit out of whack and your baby sleeps too late, won’t sleep well through the night, or wakes too early, it could be worth some daytime nap tweaking to get things back on track. In this instance, you can choose to wake a sleeping baby.
Your Daytime Sleep Schedule
While every family has their own routine to suit their lifestyle, it's quite common for young babies (less than seven months old) to have a shorter nap in the morning, a longer, restorative sleep across the middle of the day, and another short rest in the afternoon.
Here are some situations where you might need to adjust those sleep quotas:
Capping The Morning Nap
If your baby has a longer first nap in the morning, chances are they will feel nice and rested and won’t be as likely to have that longer, restorative second nap in the middle of the day.
In fact, they might want to skip it altogether.
If they sleep too long in the morning, then they won’t be ready for their second nap for a while. So, by the time you get them settled for nap two, it’s likely to be getting close to 4 or 4:30 before they wake up.
This could then lead to a troublesome bedtime and your baby simply won't be tired enough to settle to sleep. In this scenario, capping the morning sleep will ensure that second nap is long and restorative, and there’s plenty of time for another brief round of shuteye well before bedtime.
Fixing Early Rising
Some babies get into the habit of waking up at 5am which can set the whole day off kilter.
If you would prefer a later start, capping the first morning nap can make a big difference.
An early-rising baby's body clock has learned that they can afford to wake at the crack of dawn. This is because they will get a nice big restorative sleep at around 9 am to compensate.
Cutting that first sleep short will help reset your baby's body clock and get them back to a more reasonable schedule after a few days.
Fitting In A School Or Kindy Run
If it is just you and bubs at home, then this won’t be an issue. But if you have older kids, fitting in naps around kindy or school pick up can be tricky especially if you need to leave the house before 3pm.
In this case, it's essential to make the first nap of the day a short one, leaving you plenty of time to fit in a long lunchtime sleep (12:30 until 2:30, for example) before you have to be out the door.
When Naps And Life Meet
You want your baby to get the rest that they need, but you also don’t want to be a slave to nap-time.
Waking a sleeping baby is all about moulding their naps to suit your lifestyle and their sleep requirements. The odd out of sync nap is nothing to worry about and any “bad” habits that start to form can be tweaked to ensure things stay on track.
Set their nap schedule so that it works for everyone, your baby will get quality rest, but you are still able to meet your other commitments too.
If you are having trouble getting a good nap schedule established for your little one or need a few pointers to get started, then get in touch with me here at Serene Sleep. We have a range of sleep support options to suit any lifestyle or budget.