Newborns and Waketime: A Slow Process

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I know few things stress people out more than newborns and trying to get them onto the routine they are hoping to achieve. For most newborns, one of the hardest things to achieve is to establish “waketime” after each feeding during the day. I wanted to offer some encouragement to hopefully help you relax and take the process in stride.


On Becoming Babywise addresses the difficulty, “Attempts to keep awake this sweet bundle simply are not successful. That is okay.” And then this important sentence: “Wakefulness is a goal to strive toward” (page 107). 


Did you catch that? It does not say that you must have waketime following every feeding or your child will be a complete failure, and of course you are then a complete failure by association. No. It says it is a goal to strive toward. 


Goals take time. Therefore, you can’t expect to achieve this goal immediately. It takes work, consistency, and time.


So as you work on this goal, try to avoid the slippery slope of despair and worry. You will get there. I have this post with ideas to help you get there: Adding Waketime to Your Newborn’s Day :


Also remember that eating and diaper change are “waketime.” When you consider that most newborns can only be awake for 30-45 minutes at first, it takes at least 20 to eat then 5ish for the full diaper change, that doesn’t leave you with much. So at first, you won’t be having much time spent doing anything other than eat and change diapers. 


Some babies are a little harder. If they are like Kaitlyn, they fall asleep even through the diaper change and cannot be roused. That is okay. You can slowly add waketime like I did with her (as described in the post above). 


It will all come. I know that a two week old seems like she has been around for a long time because you aren’t getting much sleep. In real-time, two weeks is not that long. It might take 6 or more weeks to get playtime really happening even a little. So just relax, do what you can, and turn off the stress.





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Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

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  1. Alyssa
    November 22, 2010 / 5:34 PM

    And enjoy it! Sometimes I totally miss when DD would just eat and sleep and eat and sleep. Now, she's up for 3-4 hours at a time… that's a lot of time to kill!

  2. Caroline
    November 22, 2010 / 6:15 PM

    Thanks for this! I have a 1 month old (and a 2 year old), who is VERY sleepy a lot of days! I misplaced my Babywise Book and am waiting for my new one to come, so I couldn't remember what Babywise said about this!!

  3. Plowmanators
    December 6, 2010 / 9:08 PM

    Very true Alyssa!

  4. Plowmanators
    December 6, 2010 / 9:08 PM

    You are welcome Caroline!

  5. The Brydson's
    October 15, 2011 / 2:07 PM

    My son is 4 weeks old and we just started BW, and he is bottle fed. He usually takes about 45-1 hour to feed a full feeding (about 100mL/4 oz) so how much time should I be spending trying to keep him awake after the feeding and diaper change before putting him down for a nap?? Thanks!

  6. Plowmanators
    November 2, 2011 / 2:15 AM

    Brydson's,He won't be up much longer after the feeding. Most babies that age are up for an hour before going back down (or less). Be sure he isn't nappping during the feeding. My oldest took a long time to eat, and I finally figured out he was really getting little naps in during the feeding time.

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