Should You Ever Wake A Sleeping Baby?

Restful baby sleeping on a blue bed with blue and white striped pajamas.

Should you ever wake a sleeping baby?

A peacefully sleeping baby is one of the most beautiful things that exist. But, should you ever wake a sleeping baby?!

As painful as it can be, yes, there are absolutely times when you should wake up that precious little one. So, how do you know when it is one of those times?

If you have a newborn, you’ll want to cap their naps and wake them up after 3 hours of sleep during the DAY. There are two reasons to do this. First, we want to keep their feeds on track. If you are breastfeeding, you are working to establish your milk supply which can only be done through supply and demand. However you are feeding your baby, we want to be sure they are getting adequate calories during the day to promote their weight gain and growth. Babies are great regulators of calories and as they get a little bit older and bigger, we want to promote getting those calories in during the day so that they aren’t seeking them as much at night which will result in longer stretches of sleep (YAY!). Of course, always follow your doctor’s recommendations on feedings and intake as every baby has different needs.

Secondly, we want to help them start establishing their circadian rhythm. Waking them to feed after no more than 3 hours of sleep during the day will help prevent them from getting their days and nights “mixed up.”

If your little one is on 2-3 naps a day, you should wake them after 2 hours of sleep. The reason is that we don’t want them getting too much daytime sleep. There are only so many hours that a baby can sleep in a 24 hour period and if they are getting too many of those hours during the day, it will negatively affect and shorten their overnight sleep.

As your baby gets older on a 2 nap a day schedule (9-12 months), you may find yourself capping naps at 90 minutes in order to keep their schedule on track.

If your child is on 1 nap a day, that nap should be no longer than 3 hours. Again, too much daytime sleep can interfere with bedtime and night sleep. As your toddler gets older, you may find yourself shortening this nap to 2 hours or less to keep bedtime in an appropriate time frame. If you are seeing a lot of bedtime resistance, your child may be getting too much daytime sleep (and/or needing a longer awake window before bed) and you may need to shorten their nap or move their bedtime later.

It is never fun to wake a sleeping child but overall sleep is a balance and it is important to maintain that balance.

If you are struggling with any area of your child’s sleep, we are here to help. We are experienced baby and toddler sleep consultants and our passion is helping families get the sleep that they need so that you can ENJOY parenthood! You can schedule a free, 15 minute discovery call to discuss your specific sleep challenges and how our services can support you at

Sleep Philosophy
My sleep philosophy is that all children (and mommas!) need restful sleep, and so my goal is to help children learn independent sleep skills so that they can fall asleep on their own and stay asleep through the night. I will help develop a customized sleep plan that aligns with the family’s wishes.