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Wake Windows and Baby Sleep

Posted on . Last updated .

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Cara Dumaplin

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Want an easy way to help your baby sleep? Pay attention to how long your baby is awake. Truly! Knowing your baby’s wake windows will help your baby fall asleep more easily and stay asleep longer! 

What are wake windows?

A wake window is the amount of time your baby is awake between one nap and the next. I like to count wake windows from the time you get your baby out of the crib or bassinet until you lay him down again. 

Wake windows include everything that happens while your baby is out of the bassinet or crib, including feeding, spending time outside, playing with toys, singing songs, reading books, and even the bedtime routine

Why are wake windows important?

Well, wake windows that are too long can result in an overtired baby who struggles to calm down enough to fall asleep or stay asleep. On the other hand, wake windows that are too short can result in a baby who simply isn’t ready to fall asleep or will only take a tiny catnap. If you get wake windows just right, you’re setting your baby up to be able to fall asleep more easily and stay asleep longer.

How do I find the right wake windows for my baby?

Your goal is to find that perfect balance between tired enough to fall asleep but not overly tired. So, let's talk about how to figure out the amount of awake time your baby needs between naps:⁣

1. Start with the recommended wake window range for your baby's age.

Baby's Age Wake Window Range
0-4 Weeks 35-60 minutes
4-12 Weeks 60-90 minutes
3-4 Months 75-120 minutes
5-7 Months 2-3 hours
7-10 Months 2.5-3.5 hours
11-14 Months 3-4 hours
14-24 Months 4-6 hours

 

2. Observe! Watch the length and quality of your baby's naps and notice how she's acting!  Remember, you know your baby best, so watch your baby- If she's cranky and struggling, shoot for the shorter end of the wake window range.⁣ If she's alert and active, aim for the longer end of the range.

REMEMBER: Your baby is growing and developing rapidly. You’ll want to reevaluate baby’s wake windows each month!⁣

Combining what you know about your little one’s wake windows with their individual cues can help create a flexible routine for your day!

3. Try implementing the strategies from my free resource: 5 Daytime Tips for Better Nights (and Naps!)

Combining what you know about your little one’s wake windows with their individual cues can help create a flexible routine for your day!

How will I know if wake windows are right?

Great question! Finding the right wake windows for your baby can be a bit of trial and error. You know you’ve got it right when naps & bedtime are not a battle and your little one is sleeping for good consolidated stretches. 

Want to see some samples of how this can play out? Check out my blog on Nap Schedules: 5 Months to 25 Months for more information about typical nap schedules for your baby’s age.

If your baby’s wake windows seem to be on point and sleep is still a mess, I can help! I have a class for your baby’s age with a step-by-step plan to teach your baby the sleep skills he needs. For babies under 5 months, check out my First Five Months Bundle. For those 5 months and older, The 5-24 Month Collection will be the right fit for you.

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