How To Wake Up A Newborn

Isn’t it magical to watch a newborn sleep? You see their tiny chest rhythmically rising and falling, their delicate fingers curled into a soft fists, and their angelic face so tranquil and undisturbed. Yet, as enchanted as we may be by this peaceful sight, there are instances when we need to rouse our little ones from their slumber. The question is – how to wake up a newborn without disrupting their serenity?

Waking a newborn might seem like a simple task, but there’s a fine line between a gentle wake-up and a startling interruption. Doing it right is an art form, a delicate dance that, when mastered, ensures a smooth and comfortable transition from the dreamy arms of Morpheus to the vivacious world of wakefulness.

In this guide, we’ll delve into the intricate world of baby sleep patterns, share expert-backed advice on gently stirring your tiny bundle of joy, and provide a roadmap for when to wake a newborn and when to let them sleep. So, grab a cup of your favorite beverage (you deserve it, superhero parent!), and let’s journey through the stars and moonbeams of newborn sleep.

Understanding Newborn Sleep Patterns

Just like stepping into an art gallery filled with abstract expressionist paintings, entering the world of newborn sleep patterns can feel a bit, well, perplexing. 

Our tiny tykes, fresh from the womb, aren’t yet privy to the societal norms of timekeeping or the conventional rhythm of a 24-hour day-night cycle that we adults are accustomed to. And why would they be? They’ve just embarked on this journey called life, after all.

For the first few weeks or even months, newborns live by their own rules, with sleep patterns that might seem erratic or downright inscrutable to us. It’s like they’re dancing to a tune only they can hear, and it’s our job as parents to figure out the steps, one sleepy shuffle at a time.

At the heart of this dance is a need that trumps all others in their little lives – the need to eat. The world of a newborn revolves around their tummy, with hunger often striking like clockwork. This means they must be fed every 2 to 4 hours, shaping their sleep and wake cycle.

That being said, newborns clock in quite a significant amount of sleep time. They typically sleep for about 14 to 17 hours per day

However, this doesn’t all come in one long, luxurious stretch like the eight-hour night’s sleep we adults might crave. Instead, their sleep is split into 1 to 2-hour increments. 

You might notice your baby drifting in and out of sleep, interspersed with periods of feeding, and then back to sleep again.

So, in essence, understanding a newborn’s sleep pattern is like solving a charmingly complex puzzle. It’s a constant cycle of sleep, wake, eat, and repeat, with no respect for night or day. And while it might feel like you’re playing catch-up, remember that this phase is fleeting. Before you know it, your newborn will start adapting to the rhythm of the world around them, and their sleep patterns will become more predictable. Until then, hang in there, and keep dancing to your baby’s unique rhythm.

The Art of Gently Waking a Newborn

Waking up a baby needs to be a calm and gentle process. It doesn’t need to be a shocking or sudden experience. What’s most important is to approach it with patience and softness.

  • Swaddling: This is an excellent way to wake up your baby. When you swaddle your baby, it feels like the warm and cozy feeling they had in the womb. This feeling of comfort can help your baby to wake up naturally.
  • Softly Speaking: Using a calm and soft voice can help to wake your baby gently. Your baby knows your voice, and it can be comforting for them. This can make moving from sleep to being awake less stressful for them.
  • Light Strokes: Lightly touching your baby can also be a good way to wake them up. A light tickle on the baby’s feet or gently stroking their back or chest can be an effective way to wake them up.

So, remember, waking up your baby is not about doing it quickly or suddenly. It’s about making it a slow, gentle, and peaceful process.

When to Wake a Newborn

You might wonder when is the right time to wake your newborn. There are a few reasons you might need to wake them up:

  • Regular Feeding Times: Newborn babies need to eat often. Usually, they need to eat every 2-4 hours. So, if your baby is sleeping for a long time, you might need to wake them up to feed them.
  • Medical Reasons: Some babies need to be woken up because of health problems. This is common for babies born too early or those with a medical condition. They might need to take medicine or have other treatments at certain times. Please consult with your pediatrician.
  • Established Sleep Schedule: As your baby gets older, you might want to start a sleep schedule. This means you decide when your baby sleeps and when they wake up. You might need to wake them up at certain times to do so.

Remember, each baby is different. What works for one baby might not work for another. It’s important to pay attention to your baby’s needs and adjust as needed.

Avoiding Abrupt Wake-ups

Waking up your baby is sometimes necessary, but it’s important to do it gently. Try not to wake up your baby too quickly or suddenly. Loud noises or fast movements can scare your baby. This can make waking up a stressful time for them.

Instead, try to wake your baby slowly and calmly. Use a soft voice and gentle touch. This will help your baby to wake up without feeling scared or upset. It’s important to make waking up a pleasant experience for your baby.

Importance of Consistency

Babies, like adults, like things to be the same every day. This means doing the same things at the same time each day can help your baby feel more comfortable and secure. It is also true when it comes to waking up.

Having a regular wake-up routine can help your baby wake up more easily. This routine could include things like speaking softly to your baby, opening the curtains to let in light, or changing their diaper. When you do these things in the same order every day, your baby will learn what to expect. This can help them wake up more easily and happily.

So, remember to keep things consistent. Your baby will learn from this routine and will wake up more smoothly and easily.

Prepping for the Wake-Up

Before you wake up your baby, you should get everything ready. This way, you won’t have to leave your baby alone while you look for things. Here’s what you should do:

  • Diaper Change: Have a clean diaper ready before you wake up your baby. This way, you can change them quickly. This will make your baby more comfortable and will make waking up easier.
  • Feed Preparation: If you feed your baby with a bottle, you should prepare this before you wake up your baby. This could be formula milk or breast milk that you have pumped. When your baby wakes up, they will be ready to eat, so it’s good to have the bottle ready to go.

So, remember, getting ready before you wake up your baby can make the process easier and less stressful for both you and your baby.

The Role of Natural Light

Natural light, like the light from the sun, is very important for us and for babies. It helps control our body’s internal clock, called the circadian rhythm. This clock helps us know when to sleep and when to wake up.

For babies, natural light can help them wake up more naturally. In the morning, you can let the sunlight into your baby’s room. This can help your baby’s body know that it’s time to wake up. Over time, this can help set your baby’s internal clock and make waking up easier.

So, using natural light can help your baby wake up naturally and easily. It’s another tool you can use to make waking up a better experience for your baby.

What to Avoid When Waking a Newborn

When waking up a newborn baby, there are some things you should avoid:

Harsh lights: Bright lights can be too much for a newborn. Their eyes are still getting used to the world. So, when waking them, use soft lights or natural light instead.

Sudden noises: Loud or sudden sounds can scare a newborn. When you’re waking up your baby, try to keep the room quiet or only make soft sounds.

Quick movements: Fast or sudden movements can also frighten a newborn. Do it gently and slowly when you pick up or touch your baby.

Remember, your baby spent a lot of time in your womb, where it was dark, quiet, and snug. So when you wake them up, try to make it as calm and gentle as possible. Think about their senses – what they see, hear, and feel – and try to make it as comfortable as possible.

Reading Your Baby’s Signs

Every baby is different and might not all wake up the same way. Some methods might work better for some babies than for others. It’s important to watch your baby and see how they react.

Your baby will give you signs or signals to show you what they like or don’t like. For example, they might cry or become fussy if they don’t like something. On the other hand, they might calm down or look content if they like something.

By watching these signs, you can learn the best way to wake up your baby. Maybe they like being talked to softly or prefer gentle touch. It might take some time to figure it out, but by paying attention to your baby’s signals, you can learn to wake them up in a comfortable and calming way.

Understanding Sleep Cycles

Just like adults, babies have different stages of sleep. Some stages are deep sleep, where the baby is sleeping very deeply. Other stages are light sleep, where the baby is not sleeping as deeply.

Understanding these sleep stages can help you know when is a good time to wake up your baby. For example, waking up a baby during light sleep is usually easier. This is because the baby is already close to being awake during light sleep.

If you try to wake your baby during deep sleep, it might be harder and upset your baby. But during light sleep, your baby might wake up more easily and in a better mood.

You can tell what stage of sleep your baby is in by watching their movements and listening to their sounds.

  • Light Sleep: During light sleep, your baby might move a little, smile, twitch, or make small noises. Their eyes may move under their eyelids. This stage of sleep is also called REM sleep.
  • Deep Sleep: Your baby is very still and quiet during deep sleep. They won’t move much and their breathing is slow and regular.

So, by watching and listening to your baby, you can guess their sleep stage. This can help you choose the best time to wake them up. It’s usually easier to wake your baby during light sleep, as they are already close to being awake.


Learning how to wake up a newborn gently can seem tricky at first. But remember, every baby is different, and they might not all wake up the same way. It’s important to be patient and to try different methods until you find what works best for your baby.

Swaddling, using a soft voice, or gently touching your baby are some methods you can try. Preparing things like a clean diaper or a bottle before you wake your baby can also make the process easier. And using natural light can help your baby wake up naturally and calmly.

But the most important thing is to watch your baby and learn from their signals. This can help you understand what your baby likes and doesn’t like. And remember, it’s usually easier to wake a baby during light sleep, so try to learn your baby’s sleep stages.

With time and patience, you’ll find the best way to wake up your baby. And this can help make waking up a good experience for both you and your baby. So, take your time and always be gentle and kind to your little one.