Your baby’s wake windows are a critical part of your baby getting good sleep! Having appropriate wake windows can help your baby take better naps and sleep better at night!
I’ve been obsessed with sleep for a long time now—ever since I had my daughter 3.5 years ago. And now as a Baby and Toddler Sleep Consultant, I’m even more passionate about helping families get the rest they need.
And you know what? It all started with learning about my baby’s wake windows or baby’s wake times.
I read several sleep books when I was regnant, including Babywise and I thought I knew what I was doing. But we struggled with naps and early morning wake-ups for a while, despite my best efforts to keep my baby from getting overtired, implementing an eat, play, sleep routine, and setting up a nursery environment that was conducive for sleep.
The thing that I was missing was age-appropriate wake windows!
My daughter would often yawn after being up for 60 minutes. I was very tuned in to her sleep cues, so I would put her down for sleep as soon as I saw that little yawn or eye rub.
But then she would often wake up after 45 minutes, leaving me frustrated and confused on how to get her to sleep longer.
Then I learned about baby’s wake windows and it made all the difference in her naps and night sleep.
What are Wake Windows for Babies?
A baby’s wake window is the time that your baby is able to stay awake in between naps without getting overtired or being under-tired.
It’s the time they are awake—eating, playing, and getting their diaper changed. Your baby has an age-appropriate wake window, which is the sweet spot for making sure they aren’t overtired or under-tired.
Not following the correct wake windows for your baby can lead to short naps, early wake-ups, and a generally fussy baby who isn’t getting proper sleep.
Figuring out your baby’s wake windows can be a little tricky, but it doesn’t have to be!
This is why I created my Baby sleep schedule cheat sheets! After devouring multiple sleep books and becoming a baby and toddler sleep consultant I wanted an easy guide other parents could follow when putting their babies on a routine/schedule.
The cheat sheets give you exact schedules you can follow including wake times, nap length, and how to know when to make a transition.
Do Wake Windows Include Feeding?
Yes! Wake window is the time period when your baby wakes up from one nap, before they go down for their next nap. Your baby is awake while feeding, so that is part of his wake window.
In the beginning, feeding will take up the majority of your baby’s wake window. As your baby grows, is able to stay awake longer, and is more efficient at feeds, their wake window won’t consist of just eating!
How Long are Newborns Wake Windows?
Newborn wake windows are very tiny—just like those little babies!
Generally newborns can only stay awake for about 30 to 45 minutes before they need to go back to sleep. A newborn’s wake time is just about enough time for a feed, diaper change, and quick cuddle!
If your newborn has been awake for hours, it’s likely they are extremely overtired, and you just need to get them to sleep however you can. We really want to avoid an overtired baby, because sleep begets sleep!
Wake Windows By Age
In general, most baby’s will have a range of time that they can stay awake before getting too tired. Some baby’s require a bit more wake time, while others need a little less wake time.
Here are wake window ranges, broken down by ages from Newborn through 13 months old.
Use this baby awake time chart to find your baby’s age and their proper wake window:
- Newborn to 6 weeks: 30 to 45 minutes
- 7 to 10 weeks: 45 to 60 minutes
- 11 weeks to 3.5 months: 1 to 1.5 hours
- 3.5 to 5 months: 1.5 to 2 hours
- 5 to 7 months: 2.5 to 3 hours
- 8 to 13 months: 3 to 4 hours
- 13 months+: 5 to 6 hours
Wake windows can be tricky to understand, especially for first-time parents, so let’s see an example.
If your baby is 4-months old, she can probably do a 2-hour wake window. If she wakes up at 7 am for the day, her first nap will be at 9 am. Hopefully she’ll sleep for about 1.5 to 2 hours, and then wake up around 10:30 am. You’ll feed her, change her diaper, and play before she’ll likely be ready for her next nap around 12:30 pm.
Of course babies will always have off days if they are sick or had a restless night. But in general, your baby’s wake times will be consistent day-to-day until they are ready to make a change.
How to Stretch Wake Windows
Some babies will start to show sleepy cues early on in their wake window and you may think they need a nap long before they actually do. This is what happened frequently with my daughter!
Around 11-weeks old, she would yawn at the 60-minute-mark, but from trial and error, I knew she needed a little extra time in order to take a long and restorative nap.
The best analogy I can give for this is if your toddler is hungry at 4:30 pm but dinner will be ready at 5:00 pm. You don’t want to give your toddler a snack now because then they won’t eat dinner. Instead, you want to make sure they are hungry enough to sit and eat dinner with the family.
Baby’s wake windows for sleep are similar!
If your baby has independent sleep habits and is still struggling with short naps. consider their wake window. You may have to stretch them a bit in order to get them to stay awake a little longer.
A good way to stretch your baby’s wake time is to go outside or change the scenery on them. A little sun and some fresh air usually helps them get past the hump they need in order to make it to the new wake time.
You can also try enlisting big brother or sister or the family dog to help distract your baby and keep them up for an extra 15 minutes or so.
As your baby gets used to the new wake window, you won’t have to work so hard to stretch them. Generally, you’ll want to stretch your baby’s wake windows when you are dropping a nap, like the 3-to-2 nap transition around 7 or 8 months.
If you’re struggling with wake windows, my baby sleep cheat sheets have baby wake windows for ages Newborn through 3 Years old broken down by age as well as nap schedules for each age.
I really think a lot of baby sleep problems can be solved by having the right wake window for your baby. If your baby won’t sleep, check their timing and see if it needs adjustment!
If you have any questions on your baby’s wake window, feel free to leave a question in the comments.