It’s commonly believed that you should never wake a sleeping baby. While this sentiment is a myth, for the most part, there is a grain of truth behind it. You don’t want to disrupt your baby’s sleep schedule unless it’s absolutely necessary.
The line between necessary and frivolous can get a little blurry. We’ve compiled a short list of instances where waking them might seem necessary (but totally isn’t!)
Waking your little one needs to be done for the right reasons. If all they need is a nappy change, you can put that off – depending on how their diaper got soiled.
It might be tempting to snuggle up with your kid, but it’s never an acceptable reason to interrupt their crucial nap time. Lastly, you should never wake a baby recovering from illness – this takes precedence even above “valid” reasons to wake them up.
While it might feel like you need to deal with every issue involving your baby ASAP, most of them aren’t nearly as urgent as you’d expect – at least, not pressing enough to interrupt their naps!
Why You Should Never Wake a Sleeping Baby
They Need a Diaper Change (It’s Not Urgent!)
A soiled diaper is a huge alarm bell for most parents, leaving them scrambling to clean the mess. On paper, that’s a fair concern – babies have sensitive skin, and waste products are chock full of bacteria and pathogens that could compromise their developing immune systems.
In practice, diapers have come a long way. Most current brands boast improved absorption and can secure soiled messes reliably. You might not even be able to tell if your baby made a mess unless you feel the extra weight on their diaper!
The type of mess does matter here. You must take into account what you’ve fed to the baby.
When it comes to urine, you’re free to leave your baby be. The absorptive capacity of a properly-fitted diaper should be more than enough to handle that until your baby’s next feeding. You can even leave them with a soaked diaper overnight!
For poop, it’s a little different. You must take into account what you’ve fed to the baby.
A baby being fed breastmilk will have less irritating poop. You can put off waking them for a few minutes, as disgusting as it might seem. A formula-fed infant, on the other hand, needs a change more urgently – manufactured formula makes their poop more irritating, risking diaper rashes!
Keep in mind that this only extends to cases where the diaper is keeping the mess contained. If leaks are going past the diaper cuff or through the nappy itself, you need to change them ASAP.
Fortunately, most babies wake up when they poop – either immediately after or within a few minutes. There’s no need to wake them yourself: just don’t panic and be patient.
Family Hugs & Playtime (Let Your Baby Decide When!)
A parent’s life can be pretty exhausting, juggling work with caretaking and household chores. It’s easy to catch yourself feeling burned out and starved for affection from time to time.
You might end up spotting your little one while they’re in a cute, cozy little bundle. It’s tempting to just pick them up in your arms and shower them with kisses after a hard day’s work!
Well, we wouldn’t recommend that if they’re snoozing gently.
It might sound loving and affectionate in your head, but you’d still just be upturning your infant’s sleep cycle. While the adage of never waking a sleeping baby is a myth, it still needs to be done for justifiable reasons. Waking them because you wanted a cuddle buddy is not acceptable.
If you make a habit of interrupting your baby’s sleep, they could develop stomach aches, high blood pressure, and even increase their vulnerability to diabetes!
Resist the urge to pick your infant up while they’re napping. If you really want to feel their presence, just stroke the top of their forehead with your hand. This action is generally quite soothing while only being at modest risk of waking your infant up.
It’s okay to feel the urge to cuddle with your little one, but you don’t need to act on it immediately. Wait until they’re ready and waiting for your company first. Don’t make them adjust to you, because their well-being could take a blow from it!
When SHOULD You Wake Them?
There are plenty of cases where you should wake your little one up. The underlying reason behind a lot of them is the day-night confusion most babies are born with.
Feeding Time Pending
It’s appropriate to rouse your little one from their rest if they happen to be due for a feed, which happens if it’s been three hours since their last meal. Infants sleep a lot, but this time is crucial for their bodies to develop – you want to make sure they’re getting enough nutrition to do this!
A baby’s tummy is tiny, but their little bodies go through calories very quickly. You don’t want to leave them short of these nutritional building blocks, as it could stunt their future growth.
Infants have issues with their day-night cycle, as their bodies won’t develop a proper circadian rhythm until they reach the six-month mark!
Unless you have a rare unicorn baby – a baby with ridiculously convenient sleep cycles – your little one will likely be energetic at night and lethargic during the day. It’s important that you handle this promptly, as the problematic sleep schedule could stick to your kid as they grow.
If your baby starts dozing past their feeding time, don’t let them! You need to correct their day-night cycle. If they start napping for too long, wake them up. The more time your baby spends napping in the day, the less sleep they (and you!) end up getting at night.
They’re Recovering from Sickness (Let Them Keep Napping!)
A key exception from the above subheading is when your baby is sick. If your little one isn’t feeling well, let them sleep it off.
It’s okay for them to be a little late past feeding time here – you want them recovering, and food won’t always help. They might even vomit if you try feeding them regardless!
This takes precedence over the above reasons you “should” wake them.
Think of it like a hangover: how would you feel if someone woke you up early to get breakfast? Even if it’s for physiological improvement, stress and duress are crucial considerations when it comes to a person’s well-being.
It’s okay for your baby to be a little late for their next feeding.
If they miss it entirely though, it might be worth phoning it in with your pediatrician. Problems this big are best handled with a professional’s second opinion.
While the warning of never waking a sleeping baby is a myth, you shouldn’t wake your infant unless the situation absolutely calls for it. There are fewer situations that do than you might expect, so keep a clear head and let your infant rest soundly whenever possible.