Should You Wake a Sleeping baby?

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Advice is one of the most valuable things in life. Learn from those that have gone before us and all that. And parenting tends to follow the same motto. People sticking their oar in at every given chance; “we used to do it like this and they turned out fine!” 

Then, we seek out advice and look at parenting books and parenting guru’s for the answers. The problem is however, that no one has parented MY baby before. They might have experience of their child, but not mine and I think that’s important to bear in mind. Every baby is different and this is partly the reason why there are so many contradicting pieces of advice. We’ve been told so many different things by experts and professionals that it’s hard to know what to do! 

All we wanted was a baby that slept well! And I got myself all worked up, in a manly, slightly autistic way, when he didn’t sleep well!

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Our biggest mental battle was either waking our baby for the 22:30 feed or letting him sleep through until he naturally wakes up. The common advice is wake for the late feed so that in theory he will go longer through the night and wake up, like clockwork, at 7.

For some babies, this works very well… for ours… it did not! 

In fact, waking him at 22:30 meant that he then proceeded to wake 3, 4 or even 5 times during the night. Letting him sleep until he naturally wakes up means he only wakes once or sometimes twice. We think, and I’m not a sleep expert, that allowing the boy to actually reach a deep sleep allows his body to relax better. This means that when he wakes up, he feeds better and settles better afterwards resulting in a sleep far less interrupted.

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The late feed, also known as the dream feed, is quite a modern and new addition to the baby routine. The idea is that the baby isn’t aroused much at all, but just enough to feed…easier said than done! Babies are often too sleepy to feed well resulting in the whole principle being flawed. Here’s a bit more info if you fancy it.

We tried it and it just made him even worse, but other parents swear by it. This tells me one thing, and I’ve said it before.

There is no rule! Just find out what works with your baby and do it. Advice is all well and good, but it has to be taken and adapted to suit your child. 

Should you wake a sleeping baby? Not ours!

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  1. Andy

    We had exactly the same experience with our first. Following a routine to the letter and doing a sleep feed just meant she woke up more. Routine has become harder and harder with each subsequent child. We’re now at No3 and it’s close to impossible. He gets away with stuff his sisters never would have – like sleep feeding in our bed. He’s also the happiest little man you’ll ever meet. I guess what works on paper and what works for your child and family in real life are not the same. We just stumble, fumble and learn by doing.

    • Al Ferguson

      Thanks for your comment.

    • Al Ferguson

      I can imagine a routine is trickier with more children! Our next one will test that theory out!

  2. Pop Stephens

    Al, I think both you and Andy hit it on the head.

    We, too, read all the books, blog posts, and doctor’s office literature. We listened to family, friends, and strangers. We put all the obtained knowledge together, and simply made informed decisions best suited for our child. It’s a practice we still follow now, almost 17 months in, and will likely continue until we both kick it!

    There will always be what I refer to as the “wait untils,” who are destined to sully your stories of good experience with their own of how it is soon to go sour when, like their child, your child does xyz. They may argue you down, and assure you it’s just around the corner. Then you laugh, nod, and file it away for the time you can use it to make another informed decision about your child.

    Sleep well, Poo Baby.


    • Al Ferguson

      Thanks for your comment mate. Not often in told in right!

  3. Katy Pye

    I think this is a fantastic blog. I’ll certainly be recommending it to all the dad’s I have worked for.

    On the subject of dream feeds it had very variable results from baby to baby. For some it works a treat and has the desired effect. However, fur others it disturbs their natural sleep cycles and causes them to wake more not less. It’s always worth experimenting with it to see which camp your baby falls into!


    • Al Ferguson

      Really appreciate your recommendations and we’re looking forward to working with you!

  4. Rachel K

    I’m so glad to read this. I woke my son (just enough to nurse) at 23:00, thinking that he would wake up the usual 3-4 hours later. He was awake every hour for the rest of the night. It’s comforting to know that this might be his normal response to interrupted sleep.

    • Al Ferguson

      Thank you! It is always helpful knowing there’s others of us out there experiencing the same things! No rhyme nor reason to these things!

  5. amiecaitlin

    we had exactly the same problem & knocked it on the head after about 4 weeks. But from 5.5 months or so she was clearly hungry so we introduced it out of interest & suddenly she was much happier with a DF. Once she was established with solids though at about 7 months, she didn’t need it.
    You’re completely right. Every baby is different. I’ve stopped reading baby books altogether now

    • Al Ferguson

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. :)
      It’s purely a matter of trial and error this whole parenting thing. Try it and if it works, great! If not, try something else.
      Don’t say you’re not reading parent books though… we’re just about to release one! With a difference though: Keep an eye out for it in the next couple of weeks.

  6. Robb

    Ours do quite well with dream feeds, so I appreciate your reminder that there are no rules!

    • Al Ferguson

      You’re welcome! It’s true… there are no rules with this parenting stuff!

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