Answering Your Top Sleep Training and Wake Window Questions
According to the Sleep Foundation, newborns need about 18 hours of sleep a day. As any parent can tell you, it’s important your baby gets the rest they need, but finding the exact formula for when to put them down can be a challenge, especially for new parents. If you’re having trouble with a fussy, overly sleepy baby or overly alert baby to get down and stay down, then tracking and implementing wake windows might be just what the doctor ordered!
In this article, we’re going to answer some of the most pressing questions regarding your baby’s wake windows!
Just What Are Wake Windows Exactly?
Great question! And an important one.
A “wake window” is the amount of time your baby is awake between periods of sleep, i.e., their next nap or bedtime.
You may begin counting your wake window from when baby wakes up and you get them out of their crib or bassinet, to the next time they fall asleep and/or you lay them back down. Within a wake window, you might play, feed, sing, whatever!
Here’s an example: If your baby wakes up at 6:00AM and has a wake window of two hours, they should be back to sleep by 8:00AM. See? Simple!
What Makes Wake Windows Important?
Wake windows are important for both mama and baby because the better you dial in your baby’s sleep schedule, the more time they will be able to stay down consistently. A wake window that’s a bit too short and may result in a baby who won’t get to sleep or will only sleep for a short amount of time. On the other hand, a wake window that’s too long can result to an overtired baby who struggles to fall and stay asleep.
Which Wake Windows are Right for My Baby?
It’s all about balance. A good place to start is with the recommended wake window range for your baby’s age and then move to figure out exactly what’s right for your little one.
Here’s a helpful guide:
- 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
Then, it’s all about watching the length and quality of your baby’s naps for signs that she’s getting enough rest.
You know your baby best! If it seems like they’re a bit fussy and overtired, try shortening the wake window. But, if baby’s still a little ball of energy, you may need to go for a longer range.
From here, you can combine the recommendation with what you’ve observed regarding your little one’s specific wake windows to create a flexible, personalized routine for a near-perfect pajama time.
Will I Need to Change My Wake Windows?
Importantly, your baby is growing, developing and changing at a rapid rate! Therefore, you should seek to reevaluate their wake window every month or so.
You should always observe your baby’s sleep cues. Each one will be slightly different for every child, but these are some of the most common:
- Getting Tired: Baby may lose interest in playing with toys and maybe even with you. They’ll start gazing off with a glazed over look and getting red eyebrows. From here, you might want to push your window just a little bit.
- Bedtime: Around this time, they’ll start yawning, growing red eyes, and getting fussy. Now is the time to get this child to bed! But make sure it’s not at the cost of skipping your regular bedtime routine. If need be, shorten your usual routine while always offering a consistency in signaling that it is bedtime.
- Overtired: At this point, there’s a good chance your baby is inconsolable and shows telltale signs like red eyes or pulling at their ears. Just like us when we stay up past our bedtimes, don’t be surprised if baby gets a “second wind” or brief burst of energy, as this is a clear signal they have become overtired. Now, it might take a little longer to get your baby down and, as you’ve probably guessed, you’ve missed your wake window.
But don’t worry if you don’t get it right every time, learn and grow with your baby and both of you will get the rest you need and so deserve!