Putting a baby to sleep is one hard job. Those little ones never seem to fall asleep. And even if they do, they are up in no time. But what if you are doing it wrong? What if you are just trying to make them fall asleep at a time when they are not even sleepy? This is why you need to be aware of your kid’s wake windows by age so that they get the right stimulation and rest they need.  

In this article, we shall discuss why it is so important to maintain the wake windows of your kid and why you need to start paying attention to it. Going through this will help you understand the sleep cues and recognize them to give your baby the right amount of sleep that they need.  

By using these strategies. Your child might be able to develop healthier habits, which will further make their sleep cycle simpler and will make them follow a predictable pattern.  

What Are Wake Windows?  

What Are Wake Windows

Before we take you to the different wake windows of your baby, you need to understand what wake windows actually are.  

In simple words, wake windows are just what you are thinking them to be. It is the amount of time that your baby spends awake between one nap and the other. Wake windows make sure that the little one stays up for long enough to fall tired during the next sleep period. However, they should not be so tired that it prevents them from falling asleep.  

With the passing of months and weeks, the amount of time that your baby stays awake and spends sleeping may vary. Accordingly, their wake windows will include certain things like playing with toys, nursing, going outside, reading books, singing songs, or even a full bedtime routine.  

Why Are Wake Windows By Age Important?  

While babies are a little bundle of joy, getting them to fall asleep peacefully is one job that most parents complain about. If you have experienced an overly tired baby who continuously struggles to relax enough to fall asleep, you know what frustration is.  

Why Are Wake Windows By Age Important

While most parents will think that their baby is just fussy, there is actually a scientific reason behind it. When a baby is too tired or is over-exhausted, their body activates their stress response. Due to this, a number of chemicals, including adrenaline, are released into the body. These chemicals are far from relaxing hormones and make it even more difficult for the little one to fall asleep peacefully.  

This is not just applicable to babies; the same may happen to adults, too.  

So, to make sure that your little one is not getting too tired and not falling asleep, you need to find the right balance between being too tired and tired enough.  

However, if you haven’t mastered the art yet, there is nothing that you need to worry about. We have got your back in every step. Once you get the concept of wake windows and implement them in the correct ways, it will help your baby sleep more easily and for longer hours at a stretch.  

When Does Your Baby Or Toddler’s Wake Window Start And End? How Do You Calculate Their Awake Time? 

To make it simple, your baby’s wake window starts the moment you take them out of the crib and ends when you place them back into it.  

When Does Your Baby Or Toddler’s Wake Window Start And End

Yes, you will see them moving around in their crib for a good while after you put them to sleep, and that is okay. Babies take somewhat 5 to 20 minutes to completely fall asleep, while for toddlers, it may go from 20 to 30 minutes. As long as you keep them in a good sleeping environment, it will be considered as their rest time.  

Think about it this way – there must have been a time when you were in your bed, not really asleep, but not completely awake either. This is the time when your brain rests. The same concept is applicable to your toddler, too. So, all of the time that your baby spends awake right before falling asleep or after waking up does not make up for their wake windows.  

Do Wake Windows Include Feeding? 

Do Wake Windows Include Feeding

Yes, they do. If we are talking about a really small baby or a newborn, it is tough to keep them awake throughout the day. But the time you spend during the day, particularly during feeding, falls under their wake windows. If the baby falls asleep during the time to sleep, you might have to add in a couple of extra minutes to their wake window to help them be tired enough for their next bedtime or nap.  

Wake Windows By Age 

As per the National Sleep Foundation, babies need to sleep for at least 12 to 15 hours in a 24-hour cycle. However, finding just the right balance between the right amount of sleep and waking can be a tricky job, especially for new parents.  

If you start to follow these wake windows by age and correlate the range of their awake time in between naps, you will just be on the right track to a relaxed sleep schedule for the little one.  

Wake Windows By Age

Remember that every toddler is different; hence, their patterns will be different, too. What works for other babies may not really work for your baby. So, you need to work on different techniques to find out the right pattern that works well for your baby.  

The guidelines of wake windows by age are very generic, and they just help you figure out how frequently your kid needs to sleep and give you a healthy cue to start with.  

Here is the list of the recommended wake windows by age for your baby:  

Newborn babies: 60 to 90 minutes 

4 to 6-month-old babies: 1.5 to 2.5 hours 

7 to 9-month-old babies: 2 to 3.5 hours 

10 to 12-month-old babies: 2.5 to 4 hours 

13 to 15-month-old babies: 2.5 to 4.5 hours 

16 to 18-month-old toddlers 4.5 to 5.5 hours 

18-month-olds and older toddlers: 5 to 6 hours 

Additionally, with these guidelines, there are other cues and signs that you need to look out for. These signs may help you better understand your child’s wake windows.  

How To Spot Baby’s Sleepy Cues 

How To Spot Baby’s Sleepy Cues

Your baby is bound to show certain symptoms of being sleepy right at the end of their wake window. You need to get them in bed immediately when you see any of those symptoms in them.  

  • If you see them rubbing their eyes.  
  • When their eyes start to get a little too droopy.  
  • When they start to yawn.  
  • If they pull their ears or hair.  
  • If she starts to become fussy.  

When you take too much to put them to bed after they show visible signs of being sleepy, they may go from being tired enough to over-tired. Upon reaching the over-tired phase, it becomes even more difficult to get them to fall asleep. So, catch onto the cues as early as possible and take them to their crib without any delay.  

Get To Know Your Child’s Tired Vs. Overtired Signs  

Get To Know Your Child’s Tired Vs. Overtired Signs

Identifying your baby’s overtired and tiredness can be very helpful for parents to monitor accurate wake windows by age, and they may start to expand them longer. However, in most babies, the signs of tired vs overtired are somewhat the same. So, it does get quite problematic for parents to fully understand when their child is tired and when they are overtired. But, the later you get, the harder it will be to get them to fall asleep. So, as a parent, you need to identify these signs as tired or overtired so that you can get them ready for bed just at the correct time.  

The signs of tiredness may vary from one child to the other, but some of the most common indicators are yawning, rubbing eyes, disengaging, pulling ears, and so on. As they start to get older, the length of time between tired signs may start to expand, which extends their wake windows, too.  

However, there are certain rare cases where kids do not exhibit any signs of tiredness, or they just stay hidden. In such cases, it is better to stick to average wake windows by age and maintain a more clock-based approach.  

What Should You Do During Wake Windows By Age?  

What Should You Do During Wake Windows By Age

There are a number of things that you can do to ensure that your child is having good sleep. The 5 Fs is one of the most effective strategies that you can implement to ensure good sleep for your infant. The 5Fs is a list of the five vital things that you can do at the time of your baby’s wake window. However, you do not need to stress every single one of them during each window.  


Babies certainly do understand how many calories their body needs within 24 hours. This is actually true. So, if your little one is not getting enough calories during the day, they will certainly ask for it at night.  

The best way to do it is by feeding them every two to three hours during the day and as per their hunger cues. Make sure they get distracted the least to promote full feedings.  

Fresh Air  

Exposure to some fresh air and natural light, particularly during the early afternoon and late morning, ensures good sleep at night. This is because sunlight increases Vitamin D. It regulates the circadian rhythm in your child’s body by producing melatonin that helps them sleep better at night.  

Talking a small walk or spending some time in the park to get some fresh air is not a necessity every day. You may plan things as per your comfort.  

Floor Time  

Physical activity is particularly important for the baby’s body and brain development. It is also pretty good to use all of the energy. Just like grownups, the little ones also get better sleep when they move their bodies throughout the day.  

You can arrange for toys or other activities that will promote healthy floor time for your baby.  

Free Play  

Parents feel like they have to keep on entertaining the baby throughout the day. However, that is not the case. Little ones need some time to explore the world, too. Free play improves brain development in a child, and they get to interact with objects in their very own way – making decisions, thinking, and problem-solving along the way. All of these mental stimulations may help them sleep better.  

Face-To-Face Interaction  

Babies love to have present, in-the-moment conversations with parents. Healthy face-to-face interactions offer mental stimulation and improve language development. It also helps nurture a secure, confident attachment between a parent and their child, which makes nap times way easier.  

How Do You Stretch Your Baby’s Wake Windows By Age? 

How Do You Stretch Your Baby’s Wake Windows By Age

As your baby starts to get old, they need way more awake time to be able to get tired enough to sleep. At this time, your goal is to find the right balance between being too tired and tired enough to fall asleep.  

There is no right way to do this. The only way to figure this out is by observing. Look at the quality and length of your baby’s sleep and see how they act. You know your baby the best. So, a little observation might give you the best insight into what needs to be done for your baby’s sleep. 

Mixing their little cues with what you already know about their wake windows will help you curate a flexible routine that works best for you and your little one.  

The Bottom Line  

Understanding wake windows by age is one of the most necessary things you can do as parents. While it may get a little difficult for newer parents, little observations and planning may help you get good results. 

At the core of wake windows lies how tired your baby gets between naps. While it is essential that they get tired enough, getting too tired will make them stay up.  

Not understanding their wake windows might just result in them experiencing temporary sleep regression for a long time.


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