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Baby Wake Windows By Age (Everything You Need to Know)

Baby wake windows are an important part of good sleep. Using wake windows can help your baby take better naps and sleep better at night!

clock in bed

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 pregnant, 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 Sleepout Home’s curtains, our favorite nursery blackout curtains, to make her room conducive for sleep.

The thing that I was missing was age-appropriate awake 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.

To help you better, download my free sleep calculator to see when nap time and bedtime should be based on your baby’s age. Click here to grab it, it’ll be super helpful.

mom playing with baby during wake window

What are Baby Wake Windows?

A baby’s wake window is the window of time that your baby is able to be awake in between sleeps without getting overtired.

Sometimes this is also called your baby’s wake time.

It’s the time they are awake—eating, playing, and getting their diaper changed. Your baby has an age-appropriate wake window, which will change as they grow. This wake window is the sweet spot for making sure they aren’t overtired or under-tired.

Why Do Wake Windows Matter?

Not following the correct wake windows for your baby can lead to poor sleep for your baby (and for you.)

Putting your baby down past their optimal wake window can cause:

Figuring out your baby’s optimal wake windows can be a little tricky, but it doesn’t have to be!

wake windows by age graphic

Baby Wake Windows By Age

In general, most babies 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.

Wake windows will typically increase with your baby’s age. The younger a baby, the shorter amount of time they’re able to stay awake.

Here are wake window ranges, broken down from ages Newborn through 2 years old as a general guideline.

  • Newborn to 12 weeks: 45 to 90 minutes
  • 3 to 4 months: 1.5 to 2 hours
  • 5 to 6 months: 2.25 to 3 hours
  • 7 to 13 months: 2.5 to 3.5 hours
  • 1 to 2 years: 4 to 5 hours
toddler falling asleep before wake window is up

How Do Wake Windows Change as Baby Grows?

In my experience working with families, as soon as you get in a good routine, your baby changes again.

Wake windows can be a bit maddening, because they are constantly changing as your baby changes.

The younger your baby is, the shorter their wake windows will be and the more sensitive they’ll be to getting overtired.

As your baby grows, they’ll be able to handle more awake time and won’t be as prone to getting overtired. (Though you still have to watch a=out for it).

If you want a guide to walk you through wake window and nap transitions, the Baby Sleep Schedule Binder can help!

Baby sleep schedule binder mockup image

Eliminate Short Naps with a Predictable Sleep Routine

Take away the stress of figuring out your baby’s sleep needs. With the Baby Sleep Schedule Binder, you’ll get sleeping and feeding schedules that you can implement for every age, even if you currently have no routine in place. Check out the Baby Sleep Schedule Binder here.

mom holding clock for baby's wake window

Do Wake Windows Include Feeding?

Yes, a wake window is the length of time 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 he’ll be able to stay awake longer, and be more efficient at feeds. Soon enough their wake window won’t consist of just eating.

If you’re following an eat/play/sleep routine, the wake window is the “play” part.

When Should You Start Using Wake Windows?

You can start using wake windows right away, even with your newborn.

Wake windows are just watching the clock and getting your baby down for a nap before they get overtired. Sticking to age-appropriate wake windows is one of the best ways to optimize your baby’s sleep early on.

How Long are Newborn Wake Windows?

In those early days 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.

You really can’t enforce a newborn schedule, but you can pay close attention to the clock to ensure they are put down within their wake window.

2-Month Old Wake Window

At two months your baby is still a newborn, but is starting to come out of their sleepy haze. A 2-month old wake window can be 45–60 minutes typically.

See a sample 2 month old sleep schedule here.

4 month old baby awake

Three to Four Month Old Wake Windows

Around 3 months old, your baby can start staying awake a little longer.

I’ve found that baby’s sleep cues can be misleading around this age, so I keep an eye on them, but tend to go more by wake windows from here on out.

A 3 month old wake windows can be up to 90 minutes. And a 4-month old wake window can typically be up to 2 hours total in between nap times.

It gives you so much more time to play with your baby.

6 month old baby awake

5 to 6 Months

At 5 months old, a baby’s wake window increases and a 5 month old wake window is between 2 to 2.5 hours.

A 6 month old wake window is between 2.25 to 2.75 hours.

By now your baby may be taking longer naps as well, which is a win-win!

baby outside to stretch wake windows

7 to 8 Months

A typical 7-month old wake window and 8-month old wake window is between 2.5 and 3.5 hours. The shortest wake window is typically at the start of the day and the wake windows lengthen as the day goes on.

Between 7 and 8 months your baby will be able to extend their wake windows even more until they are ready to transition from 3 to 2 naps.

Once your baby drops the third nap, you’ll stick with similar wake windows for a while and can even move to a set schedule if you want! Babies this age can typically stay awake between 2.5 and 3.5 hours before they need to go to sleep again.

baby with pacifier awakw

9 to 11 Months

Between 9 to 11 months, your baby may need to extend their wake windows a bit again. Nine-month old wake windows and 10 month old wake windows are very similar and should be between 3 to 3.5 hours.

One-Year Old Wake Windows

Between 13 and 18 months your baby will be ready to transition to one nap and follow a one year old schedule. Your baby has come a long way since those newborn days where they just had minutes of awake time.

A 1-year old’s wake window can have a lot of range, but can be between 3.5 and 5 hours.

18 month old wake window

How to Calculate Wake Windows

Sometimes a baby may be “awake” but playing contently in their crib. When should their wake window start if this is the case.

As a Pediatric Sleep Consultant here’s my general rule:

  • If your baby is under 3 months old, start counting their wake window from when they open their eyes.
  • If your baby is over 3 months old, start counting their wake window from when you get them out of the crib.

Sleep Cues vs Wake Windows

Your baby will likely show signs that they are tired as well. But around 3 months old, baby’s sleep cues can become misleading or non-existent.

In my experience working with families one-on-one, some babies need to be stretched just a little bit past their sleep cues to help them finish off their wake window strong.

This typically results in a longer nap and them going down easier after a quick nap routine.

Sleep cues vs wake windows graphic

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 this. 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.

how to stretch baby's wake windows

Wake Windows vs Set Schedule

As a Baby and Toddler Sleep Consultant, I’ve learned that sometimes you want to follow wake windows and sometimes you want to stick to a set schedule.

Once your baby moves to two naps (between 6 and 9 months), you can move from following wake windows each day to using a more consistent sleep schedule.

With a two-nap schedule, your baby will nap about 2.5 to 3.5 hours after they wake up.

So you use wake windows to set their schedule but won’t need to adjust their naps or bedtime based on when they woke up from their various naps.

Nap time and bed time will be the same each day, regardless of your baby’s naps that day, which helps regulate your baby’s clock and prep their body for sleep each day.

It also gives you much more predictability to plan your day, knowing when baby’s naps will be each day!

I really think a lot of baby sleep problems can be solved by having the right wake windows 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.

baby wake windows pin image
Amy Motroni

Sandra Bjurek Petkovic

Thursday 3rd of August 2023

Hi! Our 6 month old girl have always been struggling with her naps. She can fall asleep on her own. But she takes 20 - 30 minutes naps. She is soo tired 😫 and almost everyday in the afternoon she is overtired. When she has been awake for 1,5 hour she is so tired. We have tried 2 hours wake time but it makes her almost overtired, she gets very cranky, fussy and arching back. Schould we just follow her sleepy cues or stick to 1,5 hour or schould we push to 2 hour wake time? Now she have 4 naps each day because the naps is so short.

Lauren Garmon

Monday 14th of August 2023

Hi Sandra! Naps can be a challenge for sure. Hang in there! At her age, I would suggest trying to move towards the longer 2 hour wake time. You can work your way there over several days, keeping her up 10-15 minutes longer every 2-3 days until you find her sweet spot. The good news is that since she falls asleep on her own, hopefully once you can tweak the timing you will see longer naps! You do want to still pay attention to her sleep cues, but she's quickly moving towards the age where you'll be able to have primarily clock based naps (for the most part). If you have not yet seen this post on using crib hour to extend naps, it may be a helpful one! How to Use Crib Hour to Get Longer Naps

Hope that helps, Lauren, The Postpartum Party Support


Monday 22nd of May 2023

Hi! My 14-month-old is resisting her afternoon nap. I'm not sure if she's ready to transition to one nap, though, because she is always tired for her morning nap and sleeps well through it. Any advice? Thank you in advance!

Lauren Garmon

Wednesday 31st of May 2023

Hi Petia! The 2-1 nap transition can look like some days with 2 naps and some days with 1 nap for a while. You could try shortening her morning nap and see if that helps! She may need more awake time between the two naps. Hope that helps!

Lauren, The Postpartum Party Support

Kristin Venezio

Tuesday 16th of May 2023

Our 8 month old baby has wake windows of about 2.5/3/4 and he does pretty well on that last stretch. Following a schedule of 8ish to 8ish, depending on what’s going on in the day sometimes it’s 9pm, but I usually have him sleep in 30 mins at wake up to help compensate. But what happens if baby wakes up at say 7:15 and will not go back to sleep? Do you still keep the same naps or shift them down?

Lauren Garmon

Thursday 18th of May 2023

Hi Kristin! That is a great question. He is getting old enough that you can watch him and see what he needs...he may need to shift his naps a little earlier, but he may also be able to stretch that first wake window some and get close to his normal nap time. It depends how sensitive he is to those wake windows, and as he gets older you'll find yourself being able to stick fairly closely to his usual naptimes even if he wakes a little earlier than usual.

Hope that helps! Lauren, The Postpartum Party Support


Thursday 23rd of March 2023


What's the harm in following sleepy cues regardless of age? Older generation advised to put baby to sleep whenever they're tired and not to always stick to schedules and time because everyday is a different dsy, especially for babies... I mean we're on the 2 nap schedule after a couple months of trying to drop and at 9 months I find that baby can get so tired or overwhelmed so soon, yet won't/doesn't sleep when attempting to put her to sleep (just a mother's instinct feeling bad to see a fussy baby lol). Obviously we just end up going by the same nap time every day which falls between 10-10:30am and 1-2pm. The problem is each nap every day literally changes in length so we find that bedtime fluctuates by 30 mins- 1hr. Just curious to know how we balance the sticking to times and listening to babies cues. Thanks

Lauren Garmon

Friday 31st of March 2023

Hi Juliet! That is a great question. Generally speaking, if a baby is waking around the same time each morning, they will start to get sleepy around the same time each morning for their morning nap. So, sleepy cues and clock schedule blend nicely there. It can be normal for there to be some fluctuation like you describe with the rest of the day. You use the clock schedule to give yourself an idea of what time the next nap or bedtime will be, and then use the sleepy cues to adjust if needed. As babies move into toddlerhood, the less sensitive they usually become to staying up a few minutes later to get to their normal nap or bedtime if needed, and early sleepy cues also tend to become harder to see. There is no harm in following sleepy cues at any age, but over time things tend to naturally progress to where following a clock-based schedule works well most days. You can always shift naptime or bedtime around if needed based on how tired your baby is.

Hope that helps! Lauren, The Postpartum Party Support


Sunday 3rd of July 2022

My baby is 11 weeks old and naps for 30 minutes and stays awake in between 30-45 minutes between naps. Should I be extending the wake window to an hour?

Amy Motroni

Wednesday 6th of July 2022

Hi Malika,

At 11 weeks, I'd work on extending those wake windows to between 60 and 90 minutes!

Sweet dreams, Amy