Wake Windows…What are they and why they matter!

What is a wake window?

To put it simply, it is the amount of time between baby waking and going back to sleep.

As a new Mum, I had no idea what a wake window was. I just assumed that if the baby was tired, he would sleep…after all, that’s what we do! But no, apparently not!

In the early days, I can’t really remember my boy being awake for any length of time but my word, did he feed! It seemed like a never-ending cycle of snoozing and feeding but then something changed.

I can’t tell you exactly when but maybe 4 weeks or so, I found I had more entertaining to do and before I knew it I had a screaming baby in my arms.

Fast forward, I now know that is because I hadn’t paid attention (or even been aware of) his wake windows and we’d ventured into “overtired” territory. When a baby gets overtired, their body gets fired up on adrenaline and cortisol – they are completely wired! To put it simply – that baby is not going to sleep…not without a fight anyway!

At around 2 months, I was chatting to a friend, pouring my heart out explaining how my baby never slept. She says to me “mate, it’s 2 hours max or he’ll be getting overtired!” 

Obviously, I was thinking, if he’s tired why doesn’t he just go to sleep but looking back, why would you. Seeing all these exciting things, everything is new but better yet, you recognise something! It’s all just so much fun!

So, as a parent, it’s our job to remind them that it’s time to fall asleep.

Average Wake Windows

0-1 Month40
If your baby goes to sleepsooner, that’s okay too!
1-2 Months40-60 minutesBabies who are sensitive, or have colic or reflux, closer to 40 min may be better.
2-3 Months60-75 minutesWake windows may be shorter than 60 minutes if overtired, or after naps shorter than 40 minutes.
3-4 Months60-90 minutesWake windows are lengthening! Becoming more aware of the world around them, your baby can easily become overstimulated, leading to an overtired baby.
5-6 Months75-105 minutesNaps start becoming more predictable with the right timing.
6-8 Months2-2.5
The morning wake window is still short, but days should start becoming predictable.
8-10 Months2-3.5
First nap of the day should be within 2 hours & can stretch to 3.5 later in the day.
10-12 Months2-4
Morning nap should be 2-2.5 hours after waking, typically 3 hours before nap #2, and 4 hours before bedtime.

What are the signs?

I know it’s all well and good me giving you the averages but all our babies are so different. These are just guides to help you find your baby’s perfect wake window.

If you’re finding something’s not quite working out for you, these are some of the signs to watch out for:

  • Yawning
  • Pulling ears
  • Rubbing eyes
  • Glazed eyes/staring into space
  • Fussiness
  • Agitated crying
  • Back arching
  • Pulling legs up

Fair to say, some of these signs can relate to “Colic” and “trapped wind” so it’s often a process of elimination but if you are seeing these signs usually before your baby goes to sleep – try putting them to bed a little sooner. 

Should your baby fight going to sleep for over half an hour without crying, it’s a chance your baby may be undertired. Try pushing those wake windows by 10 minutes.

What happened when I started to pay attention to the wake windows?

Something quite miraculous to be completely honest!

My boy would settle quicker, nap for longer, be happier in the day…it also helped me feel more focused.

When he would fuss (sometimes for hours) I felt so out of control and helpless, whereas once I knew about these wake windows, I could at least understand why he was upset and usually it would be because he’d been awake too long.

Now I’m not saying that following the wake windows is going to solve all of your baby sleep issues but it might just make things a little smoother. It did for me!

If you have found this useful, please share with all your tired friends!

Keep safe and well,

Alexis  x 

Alexis Halley Reade
Certified Sleepy Lambs Sleep Consultant at | alexis.halleyreade@sleepylambs.com | Website | + posts

Alexis Halley Reade is a Certified Sleepy Lambs Sleep Consultant™ based in Cheshire, England. As a mum of 1 adorable little boy, she knows the impact that sleep deprivation had on her baby as well as herself. After working with a sleep consultant, and seeing the incredible difference better sleep made for her entire family, Alexis became passionate about supporting other families on the journey to healthy sleep. Click here to learn more about Alexis, her sleep support options and to book a free discovery call.

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