It's interesting how some parenting advice is passed down for so long that it tends to become more of an adage than applicable knowledge. For instance, why do people say, "don't ever wake a sleeping baby?" Is this good advice that really does make a difference, or is it a problematic tip that could do more harm than good. As a new parent, I found myself repeating this age old phrase when my baby was napping, even though I never stopped to question why people say this or if I should stick to never waking my sleeping baby.
Although there's no evidence that points to exactly when and where this lesson was created, it's fairly easy to see how this sentiment became so popular. Tending to a baby takes a ton of energy, so once that little one is off in dreamland, an unexpected disruption in snooze time is not a welcomed occurrence. Additionally, some say interrupting a baby's sleep will interfere with his growth and development, which is more cause to let him slumber than simply allowing the parents a break. But this is how rumors get started — because there are times when waking your dumpling is better than letting him sleep.
There's no doubt that sleep is incredibly important for babies, but there are other needs that require you to wake your bambino if naps stretch on for too long. According to The Bump, in the first weeks, feedings need to happen every two to three hours, which means you will have to gently wake your baby if it's time for a feeding. However, once he has put on the appropriate amount of weight, you can let that sweet one snooze on longer.
Also, as your baby gets older, you may need to cut some daytime sleep short to help train him for longer stretches of sleep at night. Between 3 to 6 months of age, babies began to develop a predictable sleep rhythm and should begin to shift the majority of their shut eye to nighttime, as the website for Psychology Today explained. So don't feel like you're doing something wrong if you softly nudge your little awake for catching too many Zs while the sun's out — it's actually in his best interest.
In case you need more proof that sleeping babies can, in fact, be woken without catastrophic consequences, take into consideration how babies are hardwired. As Dr. Sears points out on his website, infants are designed to wake any time they have a need to be met and "encouraging a baby to sleep too deeply, too soon, may not be in the best survival or developmental interest of the baby."
Sleeping babies are precious and peaceful to watch (and offer a well-deserved breather) but sticking to "don't ever wake a sleeping baby" could cause potential problems. It's no doubt people say this with good intentions, but reminding yourself that not all adages are based in truth will prompt you to find the real answers.