How to Wake a Sleeping Baby and Other Baby Sleep Questions
The last thing parents need is to get tripped up by baby sleep myths. But sometimes, we accept crazy things as fact. In the 1960’s, healthcare providers thought newborns felt no pain (even during a circumcision!) and that crying was good exercise for little lungs. Healthcare providers even prescribed opium drops to babies to stop colicky crying!
Fast forward to today: You may be surprised how many ideas about infant sleep are still around. Here are some truly helpful answers to common sleep questions and tips on how to wake a sleeping baby:
How Long Does it Take for Babies to Learn to Sleep Well at Night?
It can take only a few weeks—that is, if you use the right sleep cues. Try swaddling and rumbly white noise, or SNOO Smart Sleeper, which has advanced smart technology that gives your baby the right combo of the two, to help her nod off easily.
Do Sleeping Babies Need Complete Quiet?
Have you ever seen a baby fall deep asleep at a noisy party or football match? Remember, the womb is loud, 24 hours a day! So, a quiet, still room is actually a sensory desert to your baby.
Does Rocking or Nursing Your Baby to Sleep Every Night Create a Dependency?
Well…yes, it will! But that does not mean it is a bad thing!
Let me explain: We all have sleep associations to help us relax into slumber. Think of your own habits. Do you prefer a dark room? Special pillow? Favorite sheets? Reading?
Long before delivery, your baby got used to the sensations in the womb—jiggly motion, rumbly sound, and snug cuddling. That is why rocking babies to sleep works so well. It is also why car rides help. And it is a reason nursing puts a baby to sleep—sucking is another baby sleep cue. My ‘5 S’s’ technique pulls together all of these concepts.
But, problems arise because rocking and nursing to sleep: 1) are very hard to wean —you cannot really do either a little less every day, and 2) they undermine your baby’s learning to self-soothe, or the ability to fall back asleep.
The good news is that with the help of the wake-and-sleep technique, you can rock and nurse your baby to sleep AND still help her learn self-soothing skills. (SNOO’s smart sleeper technology actually draws from the principles of the 5 S’s and has an automatic weaning feature that helps make for an easy transition to the cot by 6 months. It is pretty amazing!)
Should Swaddling Be Stopped at 2 Months?
A common misconception is that swaddling should stop at 2 months. But actually, 2 months is the WORST time to stop swaddling. Swaddling reduces crying and night awakenings, which tends to peak at 2-4 months. That is exactly why marital stress, child abuse, postpartum depression, unsafe sleeping practices, breastfeeding struggles, and car accidents increase around this time. While your baby may try turning over at this age, it is much less likely she will succeed while swaddled. If she does, 1) check that you are wrapping correctly or use our safe 5-second swaddle 2) make sure you are playing strong, rumbly white noise—all night long.
How to Awaken a Baby
You should ALWAYS awaken your sleeping baby…when you place him in a sleeper! If you are wondering how to awaken a sleeping baby, the wake-and-sleep method is the first step in helping your little one self-soothe, when a noise or hiccup accidentally rouses him in the middle of the night.
Does Letting Babies Cry Themselves to Sleep Make Them Better Sleepers?
Some books—and healthcare professionals—advise leaving crying babies alone, in the dark until the morning (the so-called extinction method of sleep training). Or they say let them cry, but return every few minutes for a couple of seconds of reassurance (the so-called controlled crying method of sleep training).
Ignoring your baby’s nighttime cries goes totally against your mum and papa instincts.
Do Some Babies Need Their Arms Out for Sleep?
Nope. Does your baby resist swaddling: Many parents assume that a baby who resists having her arms straightened wants her arms ‘free.’ (We certainly would not want to be tightly swaddled. But, then again we would not want to live in a uterus for 9 months, either…and yet babies love it there.) Wrapping imitates the cuddly confines of the womb and prevents startles that can wake your little one up. So, even if she struggles against arms-down swaddling, you will see she settles quickly when you add some other S’s (like sucking, white noise, and motion).
Should Babies Sleep in their Own Rooms?
No. There’s no rush to have your baby ‘become independent.’ In fact, putting your baby in another room is super inconvenient for nighttime care and feeding. Plus, room sharing reduces your baby’s risk of SIDS.
When Do Most Babies Sleep Through the Night?
Even by 6 months, 50% of infants still wake once a night…and babies who bed share do it even more often. Second, no baby ever sleeps through the night! (And, neither do older kids or adults.) We all awaken—slightly—when we enter the light sleep part of our sleep cycle (2-3 times a night). If the room is the same as when we fell asleep (our pillow did not fall, we do not smell smoke, etc.) we dive back into slumber and do not remember waking. Likewise, once your baby learns to self-soothe she will be able to fall back to sleep, without assistance…unless, of course, she is hungry or uncomfortable.
Should Babies Adapt to the Family, Not the Family to the Baby?
Having a baby is a huge change for a family, so of course we all have to make adjustments. Think of it this way, one of your top goals is to build your baby’s confidence and trust. In fact, during the first 9 months, building that sense of security is much more important than pushing her to be more independent.
Should I Wake Baby from Long Nap?
Yes. Although napping is essential, keeping a tired baby awake usually leaves him miserable, overtired, and fighting sleep! On the other hand, babies given lots of sleep throughout the day are more resilient and balanced. They fall asleep faster and easier, as long as they are put to bed before they get bleary-eyed and exhausted.
Is Swaddling Bad for Nursing?
Quite the opposite. Swaddling will keep your baby from bringing her hands to the mouth (an early signal of hunger). But, in the middle of the night, you do not want to respond to early feeding cues. Within 30 minutes, her hunger will increase and she will send you later hunger cues, like fussing and crying. In fact, by waiting she will get a bit hungrier and take a bigger, fuller feed.
Does Putting Babies to Sleep on their Backs Solve the Risk of SIDS?
While the Back to Sleep campaign reduced cot deaths from 5,500 in 1994 to 3,500 in 1999, for the past two decades, SIDS progress has completely stalled. The tragic truth is that about 3,500 infants die during their sleep every year. Despite the fact that more babies are sleeping on their backs, the rate of accidental suffocation and strangulation deaths among infants has quadrupled since the mid-1990s. What is to blame for this alarming trend?
Unsafe sleeping practices. Seventy percent of all sudden unexplained infant death victims are found in adult beds, sofas and other risky locations. One study found that even though most parents plan to follow the ABCs of safe sleep (Alone, on the Back, in a Crib), less than half actually do it. By the end of the night, about 60% of babies have migrated from their cot to their parents' bed, according to a study in the Journal of Clinical Lactation.
Final Thoughts on How to Wake a Sleeping Baby and Other Sleep Questions:
The goal of sleep training your baby should not be to get him to sleep continuously throughout the night, but to learn to self-soothe when she inevitably wakes. Pairing the Wake and Sleep Method with the SNOO Smart Sleeper, your can help your baby sleep more independently.
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider. Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast- and bottle-feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of a mother's breastmilk and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. If you do decide to use infant formula, you should follow instructions carefully.