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Our baby is nearly 6 months old, and generally when awake during the day (from 8-9 AM) he needs attention and care (at least periodically, otherwise he is pretty good at inventing occupation for himself). However I recently noticed that he is also awake around 5-6 AM when we are mostly sleeping, without trying to get our attraction (just grabbing the rails of the bed, rolling, or just staring around).

What do you think, should we convert this awaken period into a playtime, or just let him observe the world as he wishes? Any similiar experience?

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The love of a parent is infinite, but the time is not. In my humble opinion, you should be thankful for every moment where he does not crave your undivided attention. If you're lucky, he will learn that it's okay to be awake and still remain calm and quiet - I wish my kids knew that.

As long as you have plenty of activities with him during the day, don't feel obliged to utilize 100% of his time awake. We all like to chill sometimes. If he doesn't fuss, he's probably happy!

  • +1 if he is content, then he likely feels safe and happy. – DQdlM Jan 18 '13 at 16:45
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I think it is healthy for babies to have independent play time. You'll find a lot of research on this issue coming out of Resources for Infant Educarers and the work of Magda Gerber and pediatrician Emmi Pickler.

However most sleep resources I have consulted mention that it is unhealthy for babies to have interrupted sleep. The most vehement on this issue is Marc Weissbluth in Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. Weissbluth prioritizes consolidated sleep over total hours of sleep in terms of the quality of the sleep for a growing, healthy, happy child. It sounds like your child may be suffering from what Richard Ferber calls the "too long in bed" problem where you have your child in his sleeping location more hours than he is physically capable of sleeping, so he is having a happy middle-of-the-night wake-up. I would increase his daytime time awake, which may end up changing the number of his naps in the process, in order to eliminate this middle-of-the-night wake-up. You may want to consider adding 15 minutes to each time awake between sleep periods, starting with the middle ones first, in order to eliminate the night waking.

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