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Wake Windows, the low down

What is a wake window? How does a wake window affect sleep? How do wake windows vary during the day and what affects wake windows? Do I need to worry about wake windows? It's all covered.......


A wake window is the amount of time your baby or child is awake between sleep and/or naps. Wake windows gradually increase as your baby gets older until eventually they have dropped their naps and are awake util bed time. Wake windows will differ from child to child and although there are averages, these can vary quite considerably, especially in older toddlers.


If you try to put you baby down for a nap or for bed time and they have been awake for too short a wake window, they are unlikely to be tired enough for a sleep and therefore you may struggle to get them off to sleep. On the other side, if they have been awake alot longer than their ideal wake window, they could end up over tired and over stimulated and therefore still struggle to fall asleep or may cause false starts.

Getting the wake window to hit that sweet spot can take some practice and lots of observation from you. Keeping a diary of sleeps and awake time can help you get a good idea of your babys average wake window.


Although most babies and toddlers will have an average wake window which usually works well for them, there are things which can affect their wake windows and cause them to be longer or shorter than usual. For example, if they are unwell they may need extra sleep, or if they have had a very phsycial day or mentally stimulating day their wake windows may be shorter than usual. If you are out and about and your baby is having alot of stimulation, they may extend their wake window for fear of missing our or due to there not being an opportunity to fall asleep.

The time of the day will also affect wake windows, you may find your baby can go longer in the morning between naps than the afternoon or visa versa as well as developmental milestones.


My advice is to use your observed wake windows as a rough guide for your baby but don't let the clock replace your observations of your baby. If your baby is getting tired before their usual wake window ends, don't necessarily be tempted to keep them awake and stretch out the time before their next sleep, because you could end up with a very over tired and fussy baby. Also, if your baby is showing no signs of feeling sleepy when they usually would, you may find you are going to put them down for a nap but they will fight or refuse to go to sleep if they're simply not yet tired enough. Observing your baby or toddler and getting to know them and when they usually feel sleepy or show sleepy cues is generally the most successful way to achieve naps while following a rough schedule to keep them in a predictable routine.


There are average wake windows for each age group, and it is important to note these are average. The perameters widen the older the children get as their sleep requirements begin to vary more from child to child. There are also plenty of children who sit outside the parameters of average wake windows, which is why it's important to observe your own child and not be dictated by generic plans.

Newborn: 45 to 60 Mins

1 to 2 months: 1 to 2 hours

3 to 4 months: 75 mins to 2.5 hours

5 to 7 months: 2 to 4 hours

8 to 10 months: 2.4 - 4.5 hours

11 to 14 Months: 3 to 5 Hours

15 to 24 Months: 4 to 6 Hours 


Working out your baby or child's sleep needs can be daunting and it can also cause worry that you may disrupt them or make their sleep more unbalanced that it currently is.

This is where working with a professional can help you look at your little one's current schedule, the issues you're facing and where they are in their development and whats going on in their home life and help you to build a schedule that works for your individual.


If you would like more help with your child's sleep I can help create a tailor made plan for your family based on your individual needs. Explore my packages for something that suit you

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