Wake Windows By Age
Wake windows, or wake times, are periods of time in between sleep that your baby is awake. Any time between the time you pick them up after naps or bedtime to the time you lay them back down is considered a wake window. Wake windows are extremely important to pediatric sleep because they are the time that your baby can expel energy and get tired so that they can fall asleep easier. Wake windows vary in time by age. The amount of time a baby is awake can have a huge factor on how easily they fall asleep as well as how restful your baby’s sleep is.
By utilizing age appropriate wake windows, you will be able to get your baby on a good, solid sleep schedule and avoid short naps and an overtired baby! Below I’ll break down wake windows by age so you know the correct amount of time your little one should stay awake between sleeps.
30 – 45 minutes of awake time. This breaks down to about 6-8 naps a day. I know this doesn’t seem like a very long time, by the time your baby wakes up, you change and feed them it’s practically time for another nap. This is the glorious newborn life! Being born is a lot of work so your little one will pretty much want to sleep all the time. Besides changing and feeding them while they’re awake, talking softly, singing songs, snuggling and walking around the house are great awake time activities for newborns.
30-60 minutes of awake time. This breaks down to 5-7 naps a day. As your baby grows each month, their wake window will also slowly grow. As you can see, there is a solid range of awake time. Every baby is different and will have a different wake window length.
45-60 minutes of awake time. About 4-6 naps a day. One of the key pieces to recognize as your baby gets older and can stay awake a bit longer is to watch for their sleepy cues. This can help you hone in on the proper time to put them down.
60-75 minutes of awake time. About 4-5 naps a day. As babies get older they will naturally start to drop naps. As Newborns they were sleeping up to 8 times during the day and at three months they could be down to just 4 naps!
1.25-2 hours of awake time. 3-4 naps a day. At four months of age you can start to implement sleep training techniques if you choose. This goes hand in hand with really keeping an eye on your baby’s awake times and their sleepy cues. One of the key points of sleep training is to avoid an overtired baby. Once a baby hits the overtired phase, it is so much harder for them to settle down on their own and get to sleep.
1.5-2 hours of awake time. 2-3 naps a day. Around five months old, babies start to become so much more interactive. During their wake window, you can really have some fun playing, reading and being silly. You might even get a good old belly laugh out of them!
2-2.5 hours of awake time. 2-3 naps a day. Between 6-8 months your baby will be taking around 2-3 naps a day. They can drop that third nap at any point during this range, but be sure not to rush them.
2.5-3 hours of awake time. 2-3 naps a day. You may have some days where your little one needs three naps a day and other days they’ll only need two. Be sure to offer them a mini catnap in the evening if you find them having a hard time dropping down to two naps a day.
2.5-3.25 hours of awake time. 2-3 naps a day. You can see that the awake time range really slowly increases here, by as little as 15 minutes in some cases. If you find your child is getting super sleepy while extending their wake window, try to wind down with a calming quiet activity. Something as simple as cuddling and singing or reading a book is perfect.
2.75-3.5 hours of awake time. 2 naps a day. From 9-12 months things slowly start to lengthen out and your baby will be able to stay awake longer and longer. They’ll also have a solid schedule of a nap in the morning and a nap in the afternoon. Some kids try to trick you into thinking they can drop to one nap during this age range, but babies really do need that schedule of two naps a day until at least 13 months or so. Some kids take even longer to drop that last nap and that’s ok too!
3-3.5 hours of awake time. 2 naps a day.
3-3.75 hours of awake time. 2 naps a day.
3.5-4 hours of awake time. 2 naps a day.
4-4.5 hours of morning awake time. Nap. 4-4.5 hours of afternoon awake time. You’ll see there’s a bit of a shift when we talk about toddler sleep which starts at 13 months and older. Typically kids drop to one nap a day sometime after 12 months. You’ll want to keep your kiddo up a bit longer in the morning, put them down for a nap and then put them to bed 4-4.5 hours after they wake up for their nap. Be sure to not stretch their afternoon out too long, especially if they are in the process of dropping to one nap. This can cause an overtired kiddo and that can equal a very grumpy and difficult bedtime. Typically by 18 months, the wake windows can stretch to 4.5 hours before bedtime.
During the first year your baby goes from almost 8 naps a day down to needing just 1 or 2. Your baby is going through so many changes that good, restful sleep is vital to their growth and development. By following their age appropriate wake windows and avoiding them reaching the overtired stage, you are setting them up for restful naps and nights! If you find that you’re struggling getting a schedule set up for your baby or toddler or you’re needing some help fine tuning wake windows, let me know! As a pediatric sleep consultant I’ve got lots of tricks up my sleeve to help get your baby’s sleep under control!