Awake Windows, or Wake Windows, is THE buzzword in the sleep world. Before your child is consistently taking 2 naps, awake windows are very important for your little one. Up until that time, your baby cannot be on a consistent schedule. As much as we want that to happen, you simply need to pay attention to the time they wake up until their next nap. Keep in mind, these awake windows aren’t hard and fast, but for the most part, these awake windows are fairly accurate. If you find that your little one is cranky when you are putting him down, you might have misjudged on the timing. Also, if she takes a long time actually going to sleep, you might have to adjust and put her down a little later.I encourage parents to adjust the time by 15 minutes if either of those scenarios are causing issues.
After discovering the importance of adhering to awake windows, you will find that nap time and bedtime can get easier if other important tools are in place such as a swaddle, white noise and dark room. In this blog I will discuss that your child should not exceed a certain amount of daytime sleep. The reason for this is if they get too much sleep during the day, it will affect their nighttime sleep and they will not need as much at night. I don’t know about you, but I want my baby to get the maximum amount of night sleep! In contrast, if you try to keep them up and not give them enough daytime sleep, they will not stretch their sleep at night and it might even do the reverse; they might get less sleep. Babies are funny little creatures and keep us on our toes. You might think that if they don’t sleep during the day, they will sleep longer at night but that isn’t true. Follow these awake windows and adhere to the amount of daytime sleep to ensure optimal nighttime sleep.
Ages 0-3 months
Oftentimes when I am teaching parents about newborn sleep, I point out that their awake window is extremely short; 45-60 minutes. This could mean simply a feeding, burp, and possibly being awake for a very small amount of time (if at all). After that, swaddle and put back to sleep. Your newborn will continually do this throughout the day for the first 3 months. I encourage parents that they should absolutely wake up their baby to feed if she hasn’t eaten in 3 hours. You will want to focus on feeding the baby every 2 ½ to 3 hours during the day so that they can get the appropriate amount of calories during the day. They will take around 4-6 naps each day for about 4-6 hours total. Their entire sleep for 24 hours is 14-17 hours. So…a lot of sleep for the first 3 months.
Babies who are 4 months old can stretch their awake window to about 90 minutes to 1 hr and 45 minutes. At this age, their sleep can still be sporadic and can have around 4 naps ranging anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5-2 hours. Typically they will have 2 long naps and 2 short naps, but can still be unpredictable. You don’t want to let them get more than 4 hours of sleep during the day at this age. Your baby should be getting 12-15 hours of total sleep in a 24 hour period. Thankfully, around this age their circadian rhythm starts kicking in and their babies will be more attune to night/day if given the proper sleep environment.
At this age, they often cut out a nap and have 3 naps. Their awake time will be around 2-2.5 hours. Usually the first wake window is shorter after waking up in the morning and can get longer towards bedtime. Your baby should not exceed more than 3.5 hours of daytime sleep. Your baby should be getting 12-15 hours of total sleep in a 24 hour period.
Finally around 6 months of age, you can start to expect some predictability in a nap schedule. Around this time, your baby might start going down to 2 naps a day. If your baby is on a 7pm-7am schedule, typically they will have a nap around 10 am and 2 pm. Their daytime sleep will be between 2.5-3.5 hours total. Sometimes this can be one long one in the morning and a shorter one in the afternoon (or visa versa). Or, your baby may take a map of equal time split in the morning and afternoon. Your baby should be getting 12-15 hours of total sleep in a 24 hour period.
The 2 nap schedule can emerge as early as 6 months and can last to even around 14 months. At this time you can take a breath and enjoy a little bit of consistency in your life. Phew 😅. With this nap change you can apply the 2-3-4 rule. After your baby wakes up in the morning, he/she will go to sleep around 2 hours after the first nap. After they wake up from that first nap, they should be awake for about 3 hours until their next nap. Finally, they should be awake for approximately 4 hours between the 2nd nap and bedtime.
Around this time your baby will show signs of dropping down to one nap a day. You will want to limit the nap to 2-2 ½hours of daytime sleep. The total sleep in a 24 hours period will decrease during this time until your child is approximately 3 years old. After waking up, you should wait until 5-5.5 hours before putting him down for his nap.
Although your toddler will continue taking one nap, you should cap that nap to 1.5-2 hours. Also, you can increase the amount of time she is awake before that first nap and wait around 6 hours after she wakes up in the morning.
Sadly, naps are coming to a close, however, I want to encourage you to implement a quiet time for your toddler. They need to be calm and quiet and let’s be real, you need a break. I recommend getting a bin full of quiet time activities to be brought out during this time. This is something that they can look forward to during this time.I recommend something that does not require your assistance. It can be anything from blocks, favorite books, favorite toys, etc. You can start a quiet time to be as short as 15 minutes and gradually increase this time.
Please click on the link for a chart to download or screenshot so that you can find your child’s age, how much awake time they need, the amount of naps they should be having, and how much daytime sleep they should be acquiring.
Paying attention to these awake windows can help put your little one down for naps and bedtimes without second guessing if they are tired. I always like to remind parents that every baby is different. Sometimes they are on their own timeline and might start things a little sooner or a little later than other babies their age.
As always, please reach out if you need more clarification regarding these awake windows or if you would like to schedule a time to chat. A few tweaks in your child’s schedule can do the trick! This might require a 30 minute phone call or it might require a sleep plan with support. Either way, I can help!