Sleep Challenges … Related to Activities


In part three of our series, we’ll look at some potential waketime activities that can contribute to Baby waking early:

  1. Previous waketime was too short – There will always be days when a baby’s routine will have some variance impacting the length of waketimes. However, if a baby’s waketime is routinely too short for his age, then naptimes will be disrupted.  While sleep is very important to a baby’s development, there are limits to the amount of sleep a baby requires in a 24-hour period.  The “sleep center” in a baby’s brain will begin to send an “awake signal” if there is too much sleep in a 24-hour period.  One such signal is waking early from one or all naps.  Parents should attempt to adjust their baby’s schedule to allow for longer waketimes.
  2. Previous waketime was overstimulating to baby because:
    1. The waketime was too long, thus promoting fatigue rather than sleepiness – Waketimes affect naps just like naps affect waketimes. Over-tired and over-stimulated babies become hyper-alert, fighting off sleep through crying.  If this is a regular problem, shortening your baby’s waketime by 15-minute increments might help.
    2. The waketime activity was too over-stimulating – Be aware of the types of activities you and your baby are involved in. Are you having too many visitors drop by who have an irresistible urge to entertain your baby?  Was your baby being exposed to Dad’s loud friends as they sat watching a sporting event?
    3. Baby’s overall routine has too much flexibility – Might Mom be on the go too much? When Baby is along for the ride, the coming and going, the new sights and sounds, and the absence of predictability all work against good nap behavior.  That is because catnaps in a car seat are no substitute for a full nap in a crib.  An occasional nap in the car seat will not cause trouble, but it should not be the norm, especially during the first six months of your baby’s life.
  3. First feeding of the day has too much flexibility – When attempting to establish a feed-wake-sleep plan, parents must determine the first feeding of the day and try to stay as consistent as they can. Without a consistent first-morning feeding, a mother can and will be feeding every 3 hours, but each day has a different rhythm.  That will work against stabilizing the baby’s hunger metabolism and will eventually affect the length of baby’s naptime.
  4. The three activities of Baby’s day are out of order – Mom has baby on a wake-feed-sleep schedule instead of feed-wake-sleep Inadequate waketimes lead to insufficient sleep, resulting in shorter naptimes; shorter naps lead to inefficient feedings, and from there, everything falls apart.  That is why feedings, in the early months, should follow after naps and not waketimes.


Excerpt taken from On Becoming Babywise by pediatrician Robert Bucknam, M.D. and Gary Ezzo, M.A.  (2017 6th Edition).

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