4 Times You Should Wake Your Baby From Sleep

4 Times You Should Wake Your Baby

The Baby Sleep Site® is dedicated to helping your baby sleep better, of course, but there are a few times it is a good strategy to wake your baby. I know it might feel crazy to wake your baby when you are working so hard on helping him sleep better, but in some cases, not waking your baby can actually lead to other sleep problems. There are probably several times you should wake your baby such as going on vacation and you have an early flight, but here are 4 times waking your baby can help with other sleep problems:

1. Naps are too long

Now that you’ve learned to avoid common baby nap mistakes and mastered your baby’s naps and schedule, believe it or not, naps can get too long. Many people who frequent this site may not have this issue (most are trying to lengthen naps), but sometimes this does come up in consultations. Except for newborns, your baby or toddler’s napping should not surpass 3 hours total for a day, on average. Of course, there will be exceptions, but many times if naps get too long during the day, it will impact night sleep, since the amount of total sleep in a day will remain relatively constant. If you feel bad waking your baby because she is sleeping horribly at night, but let her make up a lot of lost sleep during the day, it could reinforce the very sleep problems you are trying to resolve at night. It can become a chicken and egg problem. Instead, you should solve the night sleep problem and keep naps properly balanced. After all, night sleep is more restorative.

2. Sorting out day / night confusion

When your baby is a newborn, he may come out being confused about day and night. Since most people say “Never wake a sleeping baby.” many new parents will let their newborn sleep 8 hours straight during the day, if they want to, but then wonder why he is up all night, sleeping on and off one hour here and there. Although I do agree with the adage to never wake a sleeping baby, there are exceptions to that rule, and this is one of them. In order to help your newborn sort out day and night, he needs to be awake during the day for his internal clock, or circadian rhythms, to adjust to life outside the womb. Therefore, it is best to limit any one nap to two hours and keep your baby up for at least 30 minutes to an hour to help “reset” his clock.

3. Long waking at night

If you have a toddler schedule that is being thrown off with a long night-waking, or insomnia, in the middle of the night, the worst thing you can do is let her sleep in the next morning. Now, I don’t mean one off day here or there. Of course, then, you’d let her sleep in. What I mean is if your toddler is staying awake for long periods night after night, you need to be proactive and help her sort out her schedule. Although there are a few exceptions, long waking at night is usually caused by a schedule problem, especially if she is sleeping enough, but in multiple fragments. When you let her sleep in, this only exacerbates the schedule problem.

4. To manage naps before a nap transition

Along the same lines of naps getting too long, sometimes right before a nap transition, it is necessary to manage your baby or toddlers naps by waking him from one of his naps in order for there to be time for subsequent naps or to stop bedtime from being “too late.” Nap transitions can be tricky and difficult in that babies or toddlers who are over-tired at bedtime tend to have more difficulty falling asleep at bedtime and staying asleep all night. Most of the time, bedtimes should be between 6 and 8 p.m. for most babies older than 3-4 months old and young toddlers. There are exceptions and all families need to find what works for their specific dynamics, but most babies have a biological need/rhythm to go to sleep early and wake early (before 8 a.m.). Quite often, a baby waking too early is due to bedtime being too late.

Waking your baby from sleep should not need to be a long-term strategy, but more of a temporary one to fix a specific problem. There have been a few rare cases I’ve had a family who needed to wake their baby from their morning nap, long-term, in order to have time for a second at a young age, but it is not the norm. If you are finding you are waking your baby longer than a week, maybe two, to fix a specific sleep problem, there may be something else at work. On the other hand, if your baby or toddler has only had this specific sleep problem for a short time (less than 1-2 weeks), then it might be a phase and you should see if she self-corrects her schedule before you start taking action and waking her.

Get Personalized Help For Your Baby or Toddler’s Night AND Nap Sleep

Between night wakings and short little non-naps, baby and toddler sleep challenges can be tough! Our consultants at The Baby Sleep Site® specialize in creating Personalized Sleep Plans™ that are customized to your own parenting philosophy, and that will NEVER make you feel guilty or pressured. Even better, once you have your Personalized Sleep Plan™, your consultant will walk you through each step of implementing it at home.
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Sleep Resources That WORK

bss_ebook_3stepsystem_leftFor those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night.
bss_ebook_masteringnaps_leftIf you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 45 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style.


bss_email_featprod_memberspic-CROPPEDOr, join our Members Area packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! As a member, you’ll also enjoy a weekly chat with an expert sleep consultant. And the best part – members receive 20% off all sleep consultation services!

Do/Would you ever wake your baby?

Father’s Day Photo Contest- Win an iTouch for Dad!

We wanted to do something special this year to celebrate Father’s Day and a little different than our usual giveaways. So, we decided to have a little Father’s Day Photo Contest. Everyone has photos of their child and daddy doing something adorable or just looking adorable and we’d love to see them! For this photo contest, we are asking you to enter either your favorite photo of dad and baby OR one of Dad’s favorite photos of baby. We’re having this contest a little early so that we can choose the winner in time to have the prize arrive in time for Father’s Day.

Here are the prizes:

Grand Prize: 4th Generation Apple iPod Touch (8GB)
2nd Prize: Your choice of The 3 Step System To Help Your Baby Sleep with One-on-One Personalized Coaching (value $97) OR a Basic Email Consultation Package (value $97.95)
3rd Prize: $50 Gift Card to Target

*Please note that the iTouch and the Target Gift Card are only available to US Residents. If an international winner is chosen, then they will be offered an alternative prize from The Baby Sleep Site that does not require shipping.

How to Enter:

Go HERE to enter.
1. Click on the Enter Contest button to fill out entry form.
2. Upload your photo
3. Once your photo has been successfully uploaded, you can then Vote for and Share your submission with your friends and family. Remember: you can vote for your favorite photo once a day every day! Enlist the help of your friends and family to help vote for your photo.
4. Keep an eye on The Baby Sleep Site Facebook page for ongoing updates.

  • You can submit photos from today May 30 through Saturday, June 4, 2011, 11:59 pm EST.
  • Voting for photos will be from Monday, June 5th through Thursday, June 9, 2011, 11:59 pm EST.
  • On June 10th, The Baby Sleep Site team will review the 10 photos with the most votes and choose 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners. The winners will be notified by email and announced on our Facebook page.

Be sure to click on Contest Rules to read the rules for this Photo Contest if you have any questions.

We look forward to seeing everyone’s photos!

Schedules for Breastfeeding and Formula-Fed Babies

breastfeeding baby sleepIsn’t it confusing sometimes whether you should feed your baby on demand or put her on a schedule? As many things with parenting, everyone has their two cents and opinion and your mind spins with the possibilities. This article will talk about schedules for breastfeeding and formula-feeding babies.

Rigid schedules for breastfeeding babies? What about formula-feeding babies?

The main thing about schedules for breastfeeding or formula-feeding babies is that I want to tell you today that a schedule is only as rigid as you make it. Just because you set your alarm for 6:30 a.m. does not mean you don’t hit snooze 2 3 a few times does it? Just because you tell your friend you want to meet for lunch at 12 doesn’t mean you can’t call her and tell her you’re starving and ask if you can meet at 11:45, instead, right? So, the first thing about schedules for any baby, not just breastfeeding babies, is that you do not have to be married to the clock to the point you are running a boot camp.

How rigid you make your schedule generally depends on your particular personality. I am, personally, a Type-A personality (INTJ for you Myers Briggs people, except I am sometimes an “E” oddly enough). A Type-A personality is generally much more conscious of the time on the clock and, being an INTJ, I generally need to know what time it is at all times (generally you would wear a watch, but my cell phone now does the job just fine, now). Basically, I am a planner. I like to know roughly what I am doing every day and this includes on vacation (I’m sure, on vacation, my mother-in-law thought it was crazy to think about dinner when we just had lunch LOL). I honestly can’t help it.

So, when I birthed a highly unpredictable, inconsistent baby, this essentially drove me a little crazy. BUT, he was also unable to get on a schedule until he was older (past 7 months, in fact!). I just had to deal and like many things you imagine go differently in your head before you actually have a baby, I had to adjust my thinking.

Nope, he didn’t get hungry at the same times every day.
Nope, he didn’t wake up at the same times every day. EVER.
Nope, he couldn’t go 3 hours between breastfeeding sessions at a young age, like the books told me he could, and he NEVER got to 4 hours. EVER. (He can barely do it now and I suspect it’s a blood sugar thing.)

Yet, I still had a “schedule” which I now call a “routine” of feeding him every X hours based on his age and abilities as well as sleep after Y hours, based on his behavior / sleepy cues, age, and sensitivity to over-tiredness (which got better as he got older). That doesn’t mean that if he was hungry sooner I would make him wait, or force-feed him if he wasn’t hungry until later (he rarely refused breastfeeding anyway!).

As your baby grows older, he will generally become more predictable (if he didn’t start out that way) as his brain and nervous system mature and sleep organizes, even if it’s never identical to the day before. We, eventually, did get to a true by-the-clock schedule. Keep in mind that I did have to modify my own natural tendency and do what worked best for my baby. And, some babies actually function a lot better on a more predictable routine and schedule, even if your natural tendency is to “go with the flow.” Some babies are SO easy-going that they won’t cry when they get hungry! And, if you don’t have a rough schedule, you could actually be skipping feedings, when you shouldn’t. Rare, but true. Slow to adapt babies generally enjoy more predictability and many will thrive on the sometimes elusive eat-play-sleep routine from a very young age.

Feed on demand or on a schedule?

There is not just one answer here to the question of whether you breastfeed / formula-feed on demand or feed on schedule. I fed on demand for quite awhile, because it was what worked best for my son and made the most sense to me, at the time. It’s not like he could go into the pantry and get a snack anytime he wanted. To this day, he eats more frequent, smaller meals. He has a very fast metabolism and he is very high energy.

HOWEVER, breastfeeding a baby every two hours during the day past the newborn phase is not always a good idea. I have had clients with babies who have not gained enough weight, because if you feed more frequently, your baby may not be getting the richer, higher calorie, and fattier hindmilk. For those parents, the answer was to start spacing out feedings so their baby would take a fuller feeding and get that hindmilk. This brings me to my next point:

Just because your baby hasn’t gotten on a schedule on his own, does not mean he can’t.

When it comes to sleep, just like waiting too long to put your baby down can lead to short naps when she’s younger, putting her down too soon when she’s younger can result in short naps, too! Confusing, I know.

The bottom line is that all babies and families have different needs and it’s okay if you don’t know THE answer for you, yet. Take some time to experiment with your baby’s routine and schedule. There is a lot related to parenting that is “learn as you go” and I don’t think schedules for your breastfeeding or formula-feeding baby are any different. Oh, and just when you figure it out, they change anyway! 😀

Because I was a breastfeeding mom, all of our sample sleep and feeding schedules are appropriate for both breastfeeding and formula-feeding parents (and combination). These are just guidelines and designed to give you ideas to make your own schedule, so please review them and post your own for the thousands of visitors that frequent this site.

If you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to download our FREE guide, 7 Common Napping Mistakes, or explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 40 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about!

Did you have a schedule for your breast-fed baby?

Why Not All 12 Month Olds Transition to One Nap

12 Month Nap Regression

As your baby approaches her first birthday, most parents are beginning to wonder when it’s time to transition to one nap. How will you know when it’s time? Don’t all 12 month olds take just one nap? Actually, they don’t. It surprised me when I was a new mom, too, but the average age for a toddler to transition to one nap is actually between 15 and 18 months. They take just one nap until between 3 and 4 years old, on average, before they stop napping all together. This article will review the reason not all 12 month olds transition to one nap.

Once a baby goes through her 8, 9, or 10 month old sleep regression, typically most babies will get into a pretty good groove. A 10 month old’s schedule typically involves being awake for 3 to 4 hours between sleep periods. 10 to 11 month olds get 11-12 hours of sleep at night and 2-3 hours total in naps, for an average total sleep of about 13 1/2 hours per day, on average. Naturally, some babies will get more and some less, of course.

Based on both my personal experience and in my consultations with countless parents, I know that 11 month olds also seem to go through a nap regression. It starts to appear that your 11 month old is trying to transition to one nap. They either start skipping one nap entirely or they start taking two 45-minute naps. You might think it’s time to transition to one nap. Many parents will transition their baby and many babies will do just fine. Similarly, babies in daycare typically are required to transition to one nap around 12 months old, ready or not. Again, most do just fine. However, I typically tell parents, who have a choice, not to rush this transition.

Just last week, a new client told me her baby started walking at 8 months! I was shocked as this is the youngest I’ve heard of a baby WALKING! My boys didn’t even CRAWL until 10 months! 😀 Although my eldest was a late crawler, he started walking just three weeks later around 11 months. He always wanted to be on his feet, since he was just a few weeks old, actually. He’s the son of a track star, what can I say? This kid very rarely sits still.

While there are babies who walk very early, the average age is between 10 and 14 months to take first steps. Keep in mind that those first few steps pale in comparison to how active they will become and this is why not all 12 month olds actually finish the transition to one nap. Once they start really walking, they get extremely tired, again. Think of what you might feel like after you’ve done cardio or run on the treadmill for an hour. Now do it three times in a day. You would be pooped! Lately, I’ve been sucked into doing Turbo Fire (seen the infomercials?) and I have been EXTRA tired almost every night, too (more on this later as I have more to tell you). Well, your baby cruising, walking, running, and climbing is expending a LOT of energy. I find some babies even start getting hungry at night, again, due to all the calories burned (that does not necessarily mean feed them, but do increase daytime intake).

I find that although an 11-month old may begin to transition to one nap, she seems to go backwards and get tired sooner, again, a few weeks later. So, you may want to hold on to those two naps for a bit longer before you push her too soon. I didn’t know better my first time around and had a mess a month after transitioning my 11 1/2 month old to one nap. My toddler was extremely overtired and CRANKY and I just couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong! The second time around, I hung on to two naps for about three weeks and my toddler happily kept napping twice a day until he was around 14 to 15 months old. Now I help clients in similar situations every day as they transition to one nap.

For even more nap and schedule help, check out these members-only resource, found in our Members Area:

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Personalized Baby and Toddler Nap Help That Works – Guaranteed!

Don’t feel up to working on your baby or toddler’s nap challenges on your own? While our Members Area is great for DIY moms who prefer to tackle sleep challenges on their own, we know that other moms much prefer to go straight to one-on-one help. Well, good news – we offer that, and you can start getting the personal help you need TODAY!

Browse our list of consultation package options here.

Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!

When did your toddler transition to one nap?

Do Stay-At-Home Parents Have It Easier With Their Baby’s Sleep?

stay at home mom baby sleepA couple of weeks ago, I talked about Drs. Sears and Weissbluth in their online chat. There was an interesting comment about an elephant in the room when it comes to parents who stay home versus working parents and their sleep training or attachment parenting philosophies. I thought this deserved a proper discussion. After all, I don’t mind talking about elephants.

Truth be told, I never envisioned myself staying home with the kids. I have always loved kids and always imagined having kids. At parties where there were kids, I’d gravitate towards them, play games, and become their favorite adult at the party. I loved them and they loved me. Yet, I never imagined staying home full time with my own. Why, you ask?

Since a young age of 15 or 16 I got my first job at Baskin Robbins (an ice cream shop), became a manager quickly, then moved on to my first office job, then went to college, started my career, went to graduate school, and so on. As much as I always imagined myself as a mother, I also envisioned myself being one of the women who would shatter the glass ceiling. As my wisdom grew about both children and the corporate world, I changed my mind about that glass ceiling in that I found it hard to envision being a CEO of a Fortune 500 company and go to all the kids’ “soccer games” (or whatever event they would be interested in). I didn’t want to be that mom who was always absent or late and I didn’t want to miss out seeing the kids as much. Nowadays, I do see amazing women doing both. There are now family-friendly companies (and family-friendly companies in Canada), that must help, too. I guess I found my own way to be a CEO in this website. :)

Now that I am a mom, I can definitely understand why parents stay home. My husband calls me a “work-a-holic” yet says I’m more of a mom than a career woman. How can that be? I guess I do a good job of balancing work and home… at least I try to. Being a working mom I find it very difficult to get dinner on the table at a decent time, never mind make that dinner healthy. I find “What’s for dinner?” a simple, but extremely stressful question every day, every week. We can make big plans to make multiple meals on the weekend, but it rarely happens. The weekend is when we have soccer games, football games, fun at the zoo, etc. It’s much too busy to cook! We have to squeeze a lot into a little amount of time. So, then, it makes sense that maybe it’s harder for working parents. Or, is it?

It’s easy to say it’s harder for me being a working mom, but I’m not so sure. Come Monday, sometimes it feels like a break from having the kids 24×7 over the weekend! I start to wonder how stay-at-home moms (and dads) do it every day, day in and day out, without a weekend “off” like I have off from work. Sorta. Okay, not really, but it’s less work on the weekend and definitely a change of pace.

Do Stay-At-Home Parents Have It Easier With Their Baby’s Sleep?

Since I am able to talk to a lot of different people on a daily basis, I tend to see similarities in how a family approaches their baby’s sleep. If you are a stay-at-home mom, most of the time you are on your own at night, since your spouse/partner has to work. If you are a working mom, you do most of the work, but sometimes both parents seem to work together. There are exceptions, of course, but the majority of families seem to fall into one of these camps (I have not been contacted by enough stay-at-home dads to say one way or another in that family structure). If you stay home and have a working partner who gets up, count your blessings. If you are the working parent, kudos for you “getting it.” :)

As a working mom, it sort of rubs me the wrong way. If I am a working mom and can get up with the kids at night, why can’t the working partner, so the stay-at-home parent can get some sleep, too?

Here comes the elephant.

There seems to be this implication that if you stay home with the baby (or babies) that you don’t need to be as well-rested. Is it because you can take a nap (or two) every day with the baby? I am sure I have at-home parents who would laugh at that. I should say that I have never studied my client make-up, but I would estimate that I have just as many stay-at-home clients as I do working parents. And, I know why.

  • Just because you stay home with the kids does not mean you need less sleep.
  • Just because you stay home does not mean you don’t need to use your brain the next day.
  • Just because you stay home does not mean it is safe to drive your precious baby around in the car when you got less than two hours of sleep last night.
  • Just because you stay home doesn’t make you a better mom when you are exhausted.
  • Just because you stay home doesn’t mean you don’t get sick more often due to sleep deprivation.
  • Just because you stay home doesn’t give you more patience to deal with a not-sleeping baby.

I’m sure I can go on and on, but the point is that when you have a baby with sleep problems, it isn’t any easier to deal with if you are a working parent or a stay-at-home parent, in my opinion. I will say when I went back to work, it did feel a lot harder, but after months of sleep-deprivation, I’m sure a lot of people would feel just as exhausted as I did.

Cumulative sleep deprivation is hard on anyone physically, mentally, and emotionally. While I think it’s probably a common misconception that stay-at-home parents can take more time and have more patience with their baby’s sleep problems, I think this is more to do with a parent’s personality and the extent of the sleep problems than the parent’s working status. I have clients who are working parents and practice attachment parenting and I have at-home parents that do cry it out and everything in between. Your parenting philosophy is not dictated by whether you work or not and, certainly, your baby, whose temperament may or may not respond favorably to your philosophies, surely is not dictated by your working status.

But, enough about what I think. What do you think?

Do you think it’s easier for at-home parents to handle sleep problems?

Note: I know this topic can get very heated, so please be respectful.

For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about!