Wake Windows: How To Follow Them
Little Yawn Collective - Mar 14, 2022
Wake windows are essentially the time your baby is awake. In your baby’s early days, it may seem that they are asleep longer than they are awake, which is true! Infants need at least fourteen hours of sleep per day and can sleep for up to seventeen hours. Those awake times in between their sleeping periods are your baby’s wake windows.
What Are Wake Windows?
Just like everything else concerning your baby’s growth, wake windows will consistently change as your baby gets older. Let’s look at the average wake windows for your baby during their first six months:
- 0 - 8 weeks 45 to 60 minutes
- 8 - 12 weeks 60 to 75 minutes
- 12 - 16 weeks 90 minutes
- 4 - 5 months 2 hours
- 5 - 6 months 2 - 2.5 hours
Of course, every baby is different, and you may see a slight fluctuation with your little one’s wake windows. The best way to determine their average time is to record wake and sleep times. From there, you’ll be able to see how long your baby is awake between naps.
Equally important is making a note of when your baby shows cues that they are tired. Once you see these cues, you’ll know that they are ready to be put down for some shut-eye.
In the beginning, your infant’s wake window may only allow enough time for a feeding and diaper change, but as your little one grows and their wake windows increase, they’ll be able to interact with you more.
You can use the wake window ranges to your advantage as well, since your baby’s sleep needs may vary throughout the day. Did your six-week-old wake up from their nap a little early? Lay them down after 45 minutes of being awake.
Want to make sure your baby is nice and sleepy before laying down for their biggest stretch of sleep during the night? Lay them down 60 minutes after their last nap.
Following wake windows keeps your baby in that optimal time where they are laid down for a nap when they actually need it. If we lay our baby down when they aren’t tired or overtired, you’ll likely be dealing with a fussy and cranky baby.
How Can I Tell When My Baby Is Tired?
Knowing which cues to spot when your baby is tired can help you determine when they should be put down to sleep. If your baby stays awake too long, they can become inconsolable and it can be hard to calm them down so they can finally go to sleep.
Signs that your baby is tired include:
- Eye rubbing
- Turning away from their bottle or breast
- Pulling at ears
- Tired or droopy eyes
As soon as you see these cues, prepare your baby for a nap. Preventing your baby’s overtiredness before it begins is key in your baby being able to fall asleep easier and getting more quality shut-eye.
If your baby does become overtired, it can start a vicious cycle of not sleeping well and then becoming even more tired and fussy. If your baby is overtired, they may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Being overly cranky and fussy
- Taking short naps
- Falling asleep off the normal schedule
- Not sleeping well at night
- Inconsolable crying – think red-faced & arched back
When you have an overtired baby, your ultimate goal will be to get your baby back to reaching the minimum amount of hours of sleep for their age. Putting your baby down about thirty minutes before their next sleeping time can help them get settled and relaxed before any overtiredness sets in.
Why Are Wake Windows Important?
Many new parents will commonly ask, “How much should my baby sleep?” An equally important question is, “How much should my baby be awake?”
Knowing your baby’s wake windows are essential because you’ll know when they will need to go to sleep. Wake windows are the times where your baby is physically able to stay awake, and after this amount of time, your baby may be losing out on the sleep their body needs and will become overtired.
Wake Windows vs. Scheduling
While your baby is younger than six months, wake windows may be the best bet in ensuring that your baby is getting the right amount of sleep. You may still need to get up with your baby in the middle of the night for feedings, so following your baby’s cues rather than trying to stick to a schedule can help with easier laydowns and prevent your baby from becoming overtired.
At this young age, your baby’s internal clock is still developing and learning that daytime is when we stay awake longer and nighttime is when we sleep longer. Trying to keep your baby on a strict schedule at this young age will likely end in tears for both of you.
Although it may be a goal to have your baby on a rigid schedule early on, if the schedule does not align with your baby’s ability to stay awake, then your baby will become overtired and cranky.
If you follow the ranges of wake windows, then your baby may be put down at slightly different times depending on how their last nap went, and what time of day it is. Maintaining that flexibility makes things a little easier when your baby’s sleeping is still on an unpredictable schedule.
Once your baby reaches six months of age and their nighttime feedings start to dwindle, your child’s sleep habits will likely be easier to predict.
Their wake window will also be much wider than when they were infants. This would be an ideal age to start implementing a daily schedule, and then adjusting it as your baby gets older and their sleep needs change.
When Napping Is Difficult
Using wake windows helps to prevent your baby from becoming overtired. Sometimes our babies may have a difficult time getting to sleep when they should be napping. When naptime is difficult, use a few tricks to help your baby get to sleep.
Installing blackout curtains can help your little one get to snoozing in a nice dark room. As an adult, you may find it difficult to fall asleep when sunlight is streaming through a window, and your baby likely feels the same way.
Blackout curtains are especially useful during the summertime when late sunsets and early sunrises can interrupt sleeping times.
White Noise Machine
A white noise machine can help with blocking out any outside noises that may be startling to your little one. White noise is also comforting, as trying to fall asleep in a completely silent room can be unnerving for some.
When your baby was in the womb, they heard the gentle whoosh of blood traveling through mom’s body, and a white noise machine making a similar sound can help your baby drift off to dreamland.
Swaddling is another way to create a womb-like atmosphere for your baby. Wrapping your baby in a snug blanket mimics the snug feeling they felt in the womb. You can swaddle your baby in a blanket or in a special swaddle that has fasteners already attached for a quick and easy wrapping.
Movement can help a little one fall asleep faster. Think the gentle jostling of a stroller on pavement or the gently rocking of a swing. In the womb, your baby was subjected to any movement mom was making, and slept peacefully through it all.
Consistent Bedtime Routine
If you are following wake windows or have transitioned to a more set daily schedule, following a consistent bedtime routine is another way of ensuring that your little one receives the quality sleep they need.
Having a consistent routine allows your child time to unwind and relax before bed. Even if you are following wake windows, following a short routine before your baby’s “first” sleep of the night can be beneficial later down the road.
Your bedtime routine does not have to be a long, meticulously planned end to the day. Short and sweet will be just the ticket to getting your little one on the way to dreamland. A warm and relaxing bath, followed up by a loving baby massage to soothe your little one, followed up by a bedtime story or lullaby is a perfect example of a successful bedtime routine.
Make Naptime a Breeze With Little Yawn Collective
Little Yawn Collective is here to make bedtime a breeze for your sweet babe. Our melatonin free sleep products help create a restful and relaxing environment for your little one to fall asleep to. Our products fit perfectly into your bedtime routine as your baby grows and thrives.
Before a bedtime story or lullaby, mist a Relaxing Pillow & Linen Spray to create the ultimate snoozy and cozy environment. All of these products contain our NaturalSnooze fragrance, a gentle mix of organic lavender, sandalwood, and cedarwood that can help your little one fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer through the night.
As a parent, you are doing all you can to make sleep a healthy priority for your baby (and yourself, too!).
Here at Little Yawn Collective, we know that bedtime can be hard. With our products and your gentle love, your baby will be snoozing away.
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