Updated: Jan 13, 2022
Wake what now?! "Wake Window" is a term used to reference the amount of time your baby is awake for, between sleep. You count their wake window from the moment you take them our of the crib (or whatever kind of sleep space they use!), and you end the wake window when you lay the back down for sleep.
It is very important that you are mindful of this time, to ensure that they are not under or over tired when you lay them down to sleep. It is very common for parents to be unaware of the importance of wake time, and it often directly impacts the kind of sleeper you have! If you keep your baby awake for longer than they can handle, they will become overtired.
An under or overtired baby often results in…
🐑 Short naps
🐑 Waking frequently throughout the night
🐑 Early mornings
🐑 Difficulty getting them to sleep
So… all the hard stuff? Cool cool cool. Don’t fret! I am happy to tell you that we can resolve these issues and get you a happier, more well rested baby.
How do we do that? WAKE WINDOWS my friend!
As your baby grows, they will develop the ability to stay awake for longer periods. It is important that we adjust their schedule accordingly. Take a look at this helpful chart to keep you on track! I recommend saving this to Pinterest (just click on the chart), so you can refer back to it when you need to!
I want to be clear that this is based off of AVERAGE wake windows, but every baby is different. You want to keep the time in mind throughout the day, but in the end, you make your judgement based off of your baby’s sleepy cues! Every baby shows signs of sleepiness and you want to keep your eye out for them as you start to approach their wake window limit. Here are some examples of sleep cues to watch for:
🐑 Rubbing their eyes
🐑 Flushed eyes/eyebrows
🐑 Staring off in the distance for 5+ seconds
🐑 Suddenly fussy or overly energetic
🐑 Chewing on their hands or a pacifier
🐑 Yawning (too obvious?)
If you see some of these signs, it may be time to start thinking about laying them down for sleep. Take a look at the clock though, if there is still lots of time left in their wake window, you’ll want to try to push them to stay awake a bit longer, even just 15 minutes. If you put them down for a nap too early and they are under-tired, it will often result in a nap battle and a short nap. So how do you keep them awake?! Try calm activities like reading a book, snuggling on the couch, changing a diaper, or offering a light snack (age appropriate).
With a bit of trial and error, you will get the hang of reading your babies signs. Once you find your baby's sweet spot, you will be able to lay them down awake and leave the room. That’s it! Doesn’t that sound magical?! Speaking from experience, I can tell you that it is... MAGICAL.
So what do you do as your child grows? One of the many joys of parenting, as soon as you feel like you have it all figured out, they will hit a regression, start teething, or grow and force you to adjust and relearn! They just can’t let you get too confident! Little buggers. I promise it gets easier to adapt along with them, with a bit of practice and the handy chart above (you could even put it the background picture on your phone!)
It’s important that I be transparent, because I don’t want to give you false hope! You can work with their schedule as much as you want, but if your child has a reliance on one or more sleep props, it likely won’t solve your problems. Sleep props hinder your baby’s ability to transition between sleep cycles, which are typically only 30-45 minutes long. After one (or a few) sleep cycle(s), they wake up and be unable to fall back to sleep without their prop (pacifier, boob/bottle, being rocked/bounced, etc). If this sounds like your baby, be sure to check out The Blog next week for my “Tips on How to Handle Sleep Props”.
I hope that this has helped you understand the importance of wake windows and how to use them! If you need help creating a schedule for your child, please reach out to me! I’d love to help you get your child’s sleep on track, and to give you a daily routine you can rely on!