The National Parenting Center

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Wakeful Babies

Babies vary from the beginning in how much sleep they need; a really wakeful baby may never sleep for more than 12 hours. You can’t care for a wakeful baby in short bursts and ignore him in between; he makes himself felt all day and maybe most of the night too.

• If he starts out wakeful, he’s likely to stay that way, so you have to find ways of living with it. He’s spending a lot of hours awake at a stage of life when it’s difficult for him to entertain himself or for you to entertain him. And if you ignore him, he’ll get lonely, bored, and miserable.

• Find different ways of keeping him company without having to give up all your other activities and without over-stimulating him. He could lie near you in his stroller, and you could do simple chores with him in a back pack.

• Changes of scene will help keep him interested, so take him with you from room to room as you move around. He’ll enjoy looking at a lot of different things hung close above him too. Commercial mobiles are fine, but he’ll also study a tea strainer.

• Lots of time awake means lots of learning time, so a very wakeful baby will rather likely pay you back with early smiles and talk.

Penelope Leach, Ph.D., is one of the world’s most respected (and best-loved) developmental child psychologists. She is most widely known for her best-selling books on child development and parenting. They include Babyhood, Children First: What Society Must Do — and Is Not Doing — for Our Children Today, the classic Your Baby & Child: From Birth to Age Five (now in a new edition for a new generation), and Your Growing Child: From Babyhood Through Adolescence.

 

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