There is the underlying theory that sleep begets sleep, but this isn’t true.
Daytime sleep is just as important as nighttime sleep, and quality daytime sleep helps to protect bedtime and nighttime sleep.
An overtired baby – importantly, one that hasn’t had enough daytime sleep – can wake more often, be awake for long periods of time, wake super early in the morning, and carry additional cortisol in their system. So the answer is yes, naps during the day are necessary and encouraged!
If I push back my baby’s bedtime, will they sleep in?
This isn’t something that I see happen frequently.
Unless your baby’s bedtime has always been later than “normal” – what is normal? – and you have always allowed them to “sleep in”, pushing back a baby’s bed-time could in fact cause them to become overtired. In turn, this will cause your baby to wake earlier.
So, in fact, it often leads to the opposite outcome.
Is the term “never wake a sleeping baby” true?
This term is absolutely not true. There are a range of different scenarios where waking your body is necessary.
- Your newborn may be experiencing day/night confusion: this means sleeping all day and playing all night.
- Your baby might not be putting on adequate weight, which often leads to be advised to wake them to feed more frequently – during both the day and at night time.
- Your baby may be sleeping too much during the day and it’s negatively impacting their nighttime sleep – i.e., they keep waking up, or they stay up for a long time during the night.
- Your baby or toddler’s naps might keep getting later and later, meaning they’re not tired enough at bedtime.
- Your baby might be on a two-nap scenario and, therefore, you have to ensure their first nap isn’t too long, or they’ll end up fighting that second one.
Don’t be scared to wake a sleeping baby – it’s often the right thing to do and will lead to a better, healthier sleeping pattern.
Can I feed my baby more during the day to avoid feeding them at night time?
The key to ensuring your baby is not waking from hunger overnight, is to ensure that they are getting adequate calories during the day.
As a parent, you want to be confident that your baby is getting the right and recommended amount of calories during the day so that if they were to wake overnight, you feel comfortable settling them in a way other than feeding. This is especially important if the ultimate goal is to wean nighttime feeds.
However, if the cause of the waking isn’t hunger-related, and you’re re-feeding them more during the day, it isn’t going to eliminate the nighttime wakings, and you’ll have to find other methods of improving their sleep.
Is wearing a baby out a bad idea? Is it true that a tired baby will actually fight sleep?
A tired baby will sleep – an overtired baby will actually fight sleep.
The key is to ensure that they are adequately stimulated and active in their awake time so that they are primed and ready for sleep when it’s bedtime.
If a baby is too busy or overstimulated throughout the day, they will find it quite hard to wind down and you might find yourself struggling to settle them.
In preparation for the holiday season, what are your tips for navigating sleep for a baby on an airplane?
Traveling with babies can definitely be stress-inducing, and the holiday season can exacerbate some of these anxieties when you need to travel a baby tow.
My key tips, having traveled with my own children, include:
- Time your flights so that your baby can nap on the plane – in your arms if need be
- Give them a feed as you take off and land; this can relieve pressure in their ears and can avoid a meltdown
- Once in the air, the plane noises actually act as a really great white noise, which most babies love, so you might find that they fall asleep quite easily after take-off
- Take your usual sleep cues with you so that they can feel comfortable and familiar: this might be a sleeping bag, or a bed-time book
- Don’t be hard on yourself: for flying, I lower my expectations and encourage parents to do whatever is needed to get their baby to sleep on a plane and, in turn, settle their own anxieties!