Should You Wake a Sleeping Baby?

Even though the old saying goes, “never wake a sleeping baby”. We are encouraging you to wake up your little angel.

Yes, you are not mistaken. We want you to wake your precious sleeping baby even though he is sleeping soundly in the little bassinet. As new parents, you have been challenged to get your little angel to sleep so this probably sounds very unfathomable.

You are probably wondering - why would I want to wake my baby up? Let’s discuss.


Newborns sleep an average of sixteen to seventeen hours in a day but they often do it in increments of one hour or two hours at a time. But every baby’s sleep need will differ.

The New York Times states “parenting experts typically say six-months of exclusively breast-feeding is ideal but many new mothers also suspect that offering some solid foods after three months can assure a good night’s sleep for both themselves and their babies.”

A baby does not have regular sleep cycles until they are at least six months of age. As the baby grows, he will need less sleep. It is normal for a six-month old baby to wake up during the night and go back to sleep within a few minutes.

If a newborn is a great sleeper, it’s beneficial to overtired parents who need extra sleep to recover from a rough night but this not so beneficial for the little one. He needs more than just sleep. 

Why You Need to Wake Your Baby?

During the first week, many infants lose a few ounces of weight but should regain the weight by the end of the second week. Dr. Paul, of Insight Study, said “Pediatricians in the newborn period tell parents to wake babies up every three or so hours to make sure they regain their birth weight”.

As a new parent, you are responsible for feeding your baby. Whether you are breast-feeding or bottle feeding, your baby needs constant nourishment around the clock to grow.

Most newborns eat every two to three hours or eight to twelve times in twenty-four hours. It’s vital that your newborn be woken up to feed especially during the first few months of age.

If your baby sleeps more than four hour stretches in the first two weeks, wake your baby for a feeding. If your baby will not waken for at least eight times in a day, call your pediatrician.

General Guideline:

  • First one/two days of life – ½ ounce per feeding
  • At 2 weeks of age – 2 – 3 ounces per feeding
  • At 2 months of age – 4 – 5 ounces per feeding every 3 – 4 hours
  • At 4 months of age – 4 – 6 ounces per feeding
  • At 6 months of age – up to 8 ounces every 4 – 5 hours
  • Increase 1 ounce per month before leveling off 7 – 8 ounces per feeding
  • Solid foods should be introduced at about 6 months of age

How to Wake Your Baby?

No one likes to be woken up especially a baby. Here are a few simple techniques we learned from the American Academy of Pediatrics that may help.

  • Gentle approach – pick up your baby and try singing or talking to him. Try moving his arms or legs or even tickling him on the cheek or foot
  • Double-duty diapering – going through the motions of changing a diaper and undressing. Sometimes this may work to your benefit if the diaper needs changing too
  • Dressing down – undress your baby to increase the exposure to cool air. Most babies do not like change in temperature or being undressed
  • Cleanliness is next to wakefulness – give your baby a bath to wake up. This is a more “drastic” measure and to be used sparingly

Whichever method you prefer to use to your wake your sleeping baby, remember he will not be happy at first. But once you establish a routine of feeding, your baby will appreciate the wake up ‘call’.

Sleeping Through the Night

It is strongly recommended you check with your pediatrician regarding nighttime awakenings if your baby is not doing the following:

  • Growing and gaining weight steadily
  • Urinating in 4 – 5 diapers a day
  • Feeding well 8 – 12 times a day for breast-feed baby
  • Feeding well 5 – 8 times a day for bottle-fed baby
  • At least 3 bowel movement diapers per day. More frequent if breast-fed, soft and seedy


You are not alone. Every new parent does not enjoy waking their newborn. It is especially difficult to find the desire to wake your little one when it took hours to get him to sleep during the twilight hours.

Waking your newborn is the last thing you want to do. But it is crucial you wake your sleeping baby. Your baby’s daily feedings help him gain the weight and get the proper nourishment he needs. With simple waking techniques, you and your baby can develop a wake routine and enjoy bonding together.

Keep track of daily feedings and diaper changes. Discuss the information with the pediatrician to make sure your baby is on a healthy track. Dr. Altmann, pediatrician and author of Baby and Toddler Basics, states “if you’re doing everything right and your baby is growing and developing well…perfectly possible to get baby to sleep through the night at 2 – 3 months of age… tell parents if every time you wake up there was chocolate cake on your nightstand, you would start eating it every night and you would wake up expecting it”. I know I would. Where’s the cake?