wake windows

When I work with clients, the biggest issue that comes up once the little babe is sleeping soundly at night is how to know when to change wake windows and when to transition to one less nap.

Today, we're going to focus on wake windows, AKA, "wake window wizardy," since wake windows are what will help your baby fall asleep quickly and stay asleep for a solid nap or a peaceful night.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with wake windows. You may worry that if the window is too short, your baby won’t take a long nap; however, if it’s too long, you run the risk that your little will be overtired. Like most things in life, there is no "one-size fits all," but careful trial and error will give you the best results!

Shown below, you can see my most up-to-date wake window chart. I always start at the low end and give the specific window a few days to settle before considering making any changes. One day is not enough to know if the window is appropriate or not, so make sure to give your baby a few days to acclimate to the change. 

AGE
WAKE WINDOW
0-1 Month
45 – 60 min
2-3 Months
1 H – 1 H 45 min
4-5 Months
2 H – 2 H 15 min
6-8 Months
2 H 30 – 3 H
9-12 Months
3 H -3 H 30 min
12-18 Months
3-4 H
18-24 Months
5-6 H (pre-nap)
2 Years
5-6 H (pre-nap)
3 Years
6-7 (pre-nap)
4/5 Years*
6-7  (pre-nap)

 

Let's talk about some signs that signal you need to change your little one's wake windows:



  • If your baby is falling asleep as soon as they hit the crib and then taking a very short nap and waking super happy or screaming, you likely need to dial your wake window back 15 minutes.
  • If your baby is struggling to fall asleep and then taking a short nap but waking up happy, I usually consider that to mean that the baby is undertired and look to increase that window the next day by 15 minutes.
  • If your baby is rising early, look at your last window and make sure you aren’t pushing it too hard. It’s best to stay conservative with that final window.
  • A wake window starts once your baby wakes from their nap or night, not from when you get them.
  • Unless you have a young baby (under 3 months), I recommend you keep your child up for the full wake window before laying them down. Laying them down 10 minutes early can really work against you as you want sleep pressure to accumulate.
  • I only reduce wake windows when a baby takes a nap well under 30 minutes. For some babies, a 30-minute nap can completely reset a full wake window.
  • Don’t assume you should increase your baby's wake window before bed; many apps and books recommend this but err on the side of caution until you see how your baby reacts. Too long of a window right before bed can make for early risings and night wakings. Too short of a window and baby might protest and have a hard time falling asleep.
  • Before changing your window, see if the issue persists with your existing windows for a couple of days; then, once you make a change give it a few days to settle.
  • Lastly, always check to see if your child is in a Wonder Week as developmental leaps and sleep regressions may make it seem like your child needs a bigger window but it’s rarely the case. Sit tight and give it a week then consider making a change!

Wake windows can be daunting, but the best advice I can give is don’t fear the full wake window and don’t try and change all of them at once; try one and give it a couple of days to settle, and then move onto the next. You got this!

_________________________________________________________________________

Author: Andria is a certified pediatric sleep consultant through the Institute of Pediatric Sleep and Parenting. You can find Andria providing expert sleep and potty training tips on the third Friday of every month on our Instagram! 


Leave a comment