Wake Windows By Age: A Month-By-Month Guide

Baby napping between wake window

Do you want in on an easy way to help your baby sleep? Learn how to use wake windows by age to help your little one get the rest and stimulation they need.

We’re sharing tips on how to put your baby down at the perfect time for them to doze right off and avoid the dreaded sleep trouble.

Table Of Contents

What Are Wake Windows?

Baby in her wake window

Wake windows are exactly what you would imagine — the amount of time your baby is awake between naps. They help ensure your little one is awake long enough between naps to be tired when the next sleep period rolls around, but not too tired to prevent them from falling asleep.

As the weeks and months go by, the amount of time between your baby sleeping and being awake can vary, and their wake windows might include things like nursing, playing with toys, going outside, singing songs, reading books, or even their full bedtime routine.

Why Are Wake Windows By Age Important?

If you’ve ever experienced an overtired baby who struggles to calm down enough to relax or fall asleep, it can be frustrating.

But there’s actually some science behind it. When a baby is overtired, their body activates a stress response. This leads to the release of adrenaline and other chemicals, making it much harder for your little one to relax. This isn’t just applicable to babies; it can happen in adults, too.

To avoid your little one becoming overtired and not falling asleep, you need to find the perfect balance for your baby between being tired enough and being too tired.

If you haven’t yet mastered this balance yet, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Let’s take a look at the wake windows by age below for a better understanding of this method.

Wake Windows By Age

Baby during their wake window

According to the National Sleep Foundation, infants should be sleeping 12 to 15 hours within a 24-hour period. But finding that balance between the perfect amount of sleep and wake time can be tricky.

If you follow these wake windows by age and the correlating range of awake time between naps, you will be on the right track to a restful sleep schedule for your baby.

Keep in mind that your baby or toddler is unique and may need different amounts of wake time before a nap. These are simply general guidelines to help you determine how frequently your child should be sleeping and give you a healthy range to shoot for.

Here are the recommended wake windows by age:

Newborns: 60 to 90 minutes
4 to 6-month-olds: 1.5 to 2.5 hours
7 to 9-month-olds: 2 to 3.5 hours
10 to 12-month-olds: 2.5 to 4 hours
13 to 15-month-olds: 2.5 to 4.5 hours
16 to 18-month-olds: 4.5 to 5.5 hours
18-month-olds and older: 5 to 6 hours

How To Know If You’re Choosing The Right Wake Windows

sleeping baby in between wake window

With the information above in mind, let’s take a closer look at how you can find the right wake windows for your little one.

1) Start With The Recommended Wake Windows By Age

Simply put, starting with the general recommendations can help you establish a rhythm with your baby. Easy enough.

2) Pay Attention To Your Baby

While you may be following the chart’s recommendations perfectly, the truth is finding the right wake windows for your little one can take a bit of trial and error.

To help with this, track how long your baby sleeps and how they act while awake. You are the one who knows your baby best.

If you have a cranky baby on your hands, try the shorter end of the window range (e.g., 60 minutes instead of 90 for a newborn). Alternatively, if your newborn is very alert at the 60-minute mark, aim for the longer end of the wake window (90 minutes).

Keep in mind that your baby is constantly growing — and fast! Once you finally have a system down, it could change the next day. So, you should be reevaluating your baby’s wake windows at least monthly to make sure they’re still working for you and your little one.

3) Adjust Their Wake Windows As Needed

Adjusting the wake window depends on how long your baby naps. A good rule of thumb is that if your baby naps for less than 45 minutes, shorten your next wake window by 45 minutes to prevent your baby from becoming overtired.

Recognizing Your Baby’s Sleep Cues

Sleep cues are the signals that babies give when they are at the optimal time to go to sleep.

While you shouldn’t depend solely on your little one’s sleep cues, when you combine them with the right wake windows by age, they give you the perfect formula for putting your baby to sleep.

As we mentioned before, sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to learn your little one’s cues and tune into their needs.

However, here are the signs to look out for to know when your baby is sleepy:

  • Yawning
  • Rubbing their eyes or ears
  • Glazed-over or dazed look
  • Moving their head from side to side
  • Fussing or crying
  • Droopy eyes
  • Arching their back
  • Refusing to eat

When your baby is displaying two or three of these signs, they are most likely ready to go to sleep. You’ll know you’ve got it right when their naps and bedtime are not conflicting and they’re sleeping for longer stretches.

Pro Tip: If you think your little one is needing more security at night and has outgrown their swaddle, try our Sleep Sack For Babies to help them feel cozy and stay asleep longer.

Tips For Sticking To Wake Windows By Age

Mom learning about wake windows by age

1) Keep An Eye On Those Sleep Cues

Knowing and watching your baby’s sleep cues is one of the best ways to keep your little one on the right sleep schedule.

2) Enjoy Outdoor Time

Build some outside time into your daily routine with your baby. The sunshine, fresh air, and vitamin D can aid in more restful sleep.

Even if it’s too cold to venture outside, open your blinds and let in as much natural sunlight as you can.

3) Keep Your Little One Active

Stimulating your baby’s mind and body can help them have better sleep-wake cycles. Have tons of face-to-face time, dance around, sing, and talk to your little one.

Chances are, after a day of fun, you’ll pass out, too!

4) Create A Routine

We’ve hinted at it a few times throughout this article, but routines are important for your little one.

Having a structure for their day gives them consistency, and they know what to expect along the way. This also helps them know when it’s time to nap.

A Note On Baby Sleep Safety

Portable pop up crib

In order for wake windows by age to work for your baby, they need safe sleep conditions.

Always place your baby on their back in their crib or bassinet, and make sure their mattress is firm and fits snugly in the crib frame. For added peace of mind, our Original Crib Mattress is both breathable and washable and allows your baby adequate airflow even if they roll over.

To prevent suffocation and choking hazards, you should also never include anything in the crib except for the firm mattress, your baby, and a fitted sheet.

And, finally, keep the room temperature between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure your baby’s comfort and safety.

Restful Sleep For Both You And Your Baby

Mom knowing wake windows by age

It’s important to be familiar with wake windows by age and know which ones work best for your baby so they can get the sleep they need to stay happy and healthy as they grow.

You’ll know you’ve nailed it when naps and bedtime aren’t a struggle and your baby is sleeping for long stretches. But for additional help ensuring restful sleep for your baby, use our 100% Breathable Mattress in your little one’s crib, and stick to a routine each day.

No matter which phase your little one is in right now, cherish these moments together. You’re doing a great job, and they’ll be regulating their sleep-wake cycle on their own soon!