Wake windows, what is this is and why is it so important for your child?
Let’s explore this topic more and I can give you some guidance to avoid those meltdowns and hopefully make nap time a little easier for all involved...
Whether you are a go with the flow parent or like structure to your day, knowing your babies awake windows will benefit both you and them greatly and reduce the prospect of over tired and under tired creeping in which then can cause more issues with night time sleep and your child’s general mood for the rest of the day.
Every few weeks you may find your child can stay awake a little bit longer so let’s take a look here at the ages and stages but please bear in mind every child is different, your 5 month old may handle 1.5 hours of awake time but your friends can do 2 hours. Usually as they get older the awake window at the end of the days gets longer mostly due to the fact naps start to drop from the late afternoon.
0-8 weeks: 45 - 75 mins
8 weeks - 4 months: 60 - 90 mins
4 months: 1.5 - 1.75 hours
5 months: 1.5 - 2.25 hours
6 month: 2 - 2.5 hours
7 months: 2.25 - 2.75 hours
8 months: 2.25 - 3 hours
9 months: 2.5 - 3 hours
10 months: 3 - 3.5 hours
11 - 12 months: 3 - 3.75 hours
12 - 15 months: 3 - 4 hours
HOW TO WORK OUT YOUR CHILD’S AWAKE WINDOW?
By matching their age to the listed windows above you can start to understand what they are capable of. Then you need to look out for your child’s sleep cues. This may be yawning, pulling ears, rubbing eyes, sucking thumb. You will know and understand what those signs are.
Some babies are at the shorter end of the awake window and others are able to hang out to the bitter end, but do be careful because if you miss this window your baby will be going to potentially find it hard to fall asleep as now they are overtired. The cortisol is building up in their little body and along with the adrenaline and they can’t cope with it. The fall out is crying and screaming and looking for help to get to sleep. They just can’t relax and switch off. Of course the opposite happens if you are too early for a nap, they may be laying in the cot for a long time until they finally fall asleep.
Sleep pressure also has a lot to do with these awake windows. If your baby has had a great big long nap in the morning they may not have enough sleep pressure to go back to sleep an hour and half later so you may need to adjust your child’s nap lengths. Again this will depend on the age of your baby and the day time sleep they ideally need.
Don’t set rigid sleep times until your baby is in great pattern that repeats itself every day. When babies are very young naps go out the window or they wake early so you will have to adjust the awake window accordingly. You need to be a little flexible with your day and if you have arrangements with friends it is best to keep them aware your plans may change on the day.
Please share this with a friend who may also be wondering what the right awake window is for their little one!
Your Paediatric Sleep Consultant