So what is a wake window and why is it important?

A wake window is the amount of time that your baby can cope with being awake. This time gradually increases as the baby gets older.

The wake window for a newborn baby is 45 minutes. This means that baby is awake, has a full feed, a nappy change, little bit of play and then back to bed after 45 minutes. If you stick to the appropriate wake window your baby should have an easier time falling asleep. Once they start to get overtired their cortisol and adrenaline levels start to increase meaning they become wired and will have a very hard time falling asleep.

I had no idea about wake windows when my son was born. I presumed he would fall asleep when he was ready but this definitely didn’t happen! He would start to get fussy and would twist his body so I presumed he needed another feed. It didn’t even occur to me that he was tired!

Signs of tiredness in a newborn could be:

  • Cranky / fussy
  • Red rimmed eyes
  • Staring
  • Arched back / twisting
  • Turning head into you

Since becoming a sleep consultant and learning everything there is to know about children’s sleep I now know the importance of wake windows. Some of my clients had no idea about wake windows and once we made a ideal schedule including these windows then they found their little ones can fall asleep much easier than they did before!

Here are the appropriate wake windows by age:

  • Newborns (birth to 10 weeks): 45 min to an hour
  • 11 weeks to 3.5 months: 1.5 hours
  • 5 months to 5 months: 2 hours
  • 5 months to 7 months: 2.5 to 3 hours
  • 8 months to 13 months: 3 to 4 hours
  • 14 months to 3 years: 5 to 6 hours

The wake window is classed as the time from when the baby woke to the time you put them down to sleep in their sleep space.

Each baby is different so a good rule is to follow the approximate times given above but also keep an eye on those tiredness signs. Your little one might need slightly more or less awake time than those given above.

So if your little one is fighting their naps or is overtired at bedtime, then try following their appropriate wake window. Going to sleep at the right time for their age might just make it a bit easier for them (and you!).


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