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.

Waiting for them to show external signs of tiredness may end up being too late. With wake windows, you can anticipate the need for sleep before your baby has to tell you.

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 by age 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. In particular, watch for sleep cues such as yawning, irritability, or eye-rubbing.

If your baby demonstrates any of these signs before the wake window is up, when the next sleep period rolls around, try to put them to bed about five minutes earlier. This way, you’re getting ahead of your little one’s sleep signs instead of just responding to them.

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.

On the flip side, if your baby takes an extra long nap, you may want to lengthen their next wake window.

Recognizing your baby’s sleep cues

Baby crying during wake window

As we said, 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.

And, 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.

toddler crawling during wake window

Here’s an example. Imagine you have a six-month-old baby who just woke up in the morning. As soon as they rise and shine, it’s time to set the clock on your wake window. Then you’ll attend to their needs and start to go about your day together.

Your little one, at six months, has a wake window between 1.5 and 2.5 hours long. After that, it’s time to nap again. You’ll want to be on high alert for sleep cues about an hour and a half after your little one wakes up.

If you see them rubbing their eyes and yawning two hours into their wake window, it’s time to put them to bed and make a note that next time you’ll put them to bed five minutes earlier, adjusting that wake window to 1 hour and 55 minutes.

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 putting them to bed in a sleep sack to help them feel cozy and stay asleep longer. A sleep sack is a wearable blanket that makes bedtime even more comfy and safe.

Tips for sticking to wake windows by age

Mom learning about wake windows by age

1) Keep an eye on those sleep cues.

As we said, knowing and watching your baby’s sleep cues is one of the best ways to keep your little one on the right sleep schedule. Remember, once they exhibit signs that it’s time for some shuteye, put them in their bassinet or crib.

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. That’s because being outside in the daylight helps establish your little one’s circadian rhythm more quickly, which translates to better 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. Let’s take a look at what you can do to ensure your little one has the safest rest possible.

Always put your baby to bed on their back.

First of all, when it’s time for a nap, you want to always place your baby on their back in their crib or bassinet. Babies who sleep on their side or stomach have an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Only put baby to bed on safe-sleep-approved surfaces.

There are only three places your baby should be put down to rest: the bassinet, the crib, or the travel crib. Gear like car seats, bouncers, rockers, and swings are not safe-sleep-approved and can be dangerous.

You’ll also want to avoid any inclined surfaces, as well as any couches or armchairs. If your little one does fall asleep on a non-approved surface, move them to the bassinet or crib as soon as you notice.

Make sure the mattress is properly fitted.

A crib is only safe if the mattress within it is fitted correctly. If you have a standard-sized crib, you’ll want to purchase a standard-sized crib mattress which is 27 ⅓ inches by 51 ⅝ inches.

If you have a non-standard-sized crib, look to the crib manufacturer for the corresponding mattress.

If you’re unsure whether your mattress is a good fit, do the two-finger test. Basically, you should not be able to fit more than two fingers between the side of the crib and the mattress.

Choose a firm and breathable mattress.

With all of the sleep your little one will be getting these first months, it’s important that you choose a safe mattress, and for babies, that means a firm mattress. The other thing you want to look for in your mattress is breathability.

Newton Baby’s Original Crib Mattress is both firm and breathable, allowing your baby adequate airflow even if they roll over. It’s also washable from cover to core, which means your little one will enjoy a cleaner, hypoallergenic sleep.

Keep the crib bare.

Although it may seem cute to have a crib with blankets and stuffies, to prevent suffocation and choking hazards, never include anything in the crib except for the firm mattress, your baby, and a fitted sheet.

Blankets are a no-no until they turn at least one year old (instead, use a sleep sack). You’ll also want to steer clear of crib bumpers. Although these look pretty, they can be dangerous.

Instead, find a sweet patterned fitted sheet to give your baby’s crib some style. Our Breathable, Organic Cotton Sheets feature cute stardust prints and muted colors. They’re also super-soft and 100% breathable.

Try a pacifier.

baby sleeping with pacifier

If you’re trying to adjust your baby’s sleep schedule to their wake window by age, try a pacifier. According to researchers, non-nutritive sucking may help your little one fall asleep easier. Using a pacifier also decreases the risk of SIDS.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that babies use a pacifier for all of their daily sleep sessions, both nap time and bedtime.

When it comes to pacifier safety there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Only use pacifiers that are one-piece, and don’t use any that have something attached to them for sleep.
  • Never affix a pacifier to your baby’s crib or put it around their neck.
  • Be sure to use the right size pacifier for your baby’s age.
  • If the pacifier looks damaged, discard and replace it.

Room share; don’t bed share.

Another safety rule has to do with where your baby is catching their zzzs. The AAP recommends sleeping in the same room as your baby for at least the first six months of their life. However, you should not share the same bed.

We know you might want to cuddle with your little one, but putting them down in your bed is dangerous. First of all, your bed has soft pillows and blankets, all of which can be suffocation hazards. Your mattress is also likely not firm enough for a newborn.

Of course on top of that, if you’re sleepy too, you could inadvertently nod off and roll over on them.

Instead of bed-sharing, get your little one a bassinet or crib that you can put next to your bed, like our Newton Baby Bassinet and Bedside Sleeper. Our bassinet is completely washable and it’s breathable — thanks to our Wovenaire ® technology.

Optimize the nursery for sleep.

Mom knowing wake windows by age

There are also some steps you can take to ensure that your little one’s room is perfectly primed for easy sleep. Let’s take a look.

Cool, not cold

First of all, you want to make sure your baby’s room is “just right”: not too hot and not too cold. Keep the room temperature between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure your baby’s comfort and safety.

Not too dry

If baby’s room is too dry, their nose can get stuffy, making them uncomfortable. This is even more of an issue in the summer and winter months when you’re running the air conditioner or heat, both of which dry the air out.

You may want to use a humidifier in the room to keep the air moist and comfortable. According to the EPA, the optimal humidity level is about 30%-50% in a baby’s room. Be sure not to go above 60% as this might result in mold.

If you’re not sure how dry the air in the nursery is, you can purchase a device called a hygrometer, which measures the room’s moisture level.

Lights out

If your baby is going to get good shut-eye, the room has to be dark. This is easy at night, but during the day, it may require an investment in some blackout curtains.

Quiet, please

Now that the room is cool and dark, you’re going to want to think about the noise level. If your baby is going to get a good nap, you’ll need to keep the house quiet. That means no clattering pans or loud phone calls.

Of course, you can keep it down, but you can’t completely control the noise outside — like your next-door neighbor’s lawn mower or the siren of a police car or firetruck.

To prevent outside disturbances that may wake up your little one, get a white noise machine. The ambient sound will drown out external noise and let them rest peacefully.

Dress baby for the room temperature.

Come time to sleep, your little one should be dressed in one layer more than what you’d be comfy in considering the room temperature. If they’re overdressed, they could get too hot for a restful sleep. If they’re underdressed, they could be too chilly.

You’ll also want to be sure that their head and face are not covered. Say no to hats.

We mentioned sleep sacks before, but we’ll mention them again. A sleep sack is a great choice for bedtime to keep your little one both comfortable and safe.

These wearable blankets come in varying TOGS or weights, so depending on how warm or cool the room is, you can choose what suits.

Exclusively breastfeed for at least six months.

Mom breastfeeding baby during wake window

The World Health Organization, AAP, and the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans all recommend exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months. Of course, if you’re not able to, that’s OK, but if you are, try to stick to it.

Breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS considerably, which will give you not only peace of mind but also some wonderful bonding time with your baby.

Keep the house smoke-free.

As you already probably know, smoking while pregnant or around your newborn can significantly increase the risk of SIDS. In order to make sure your little one is safe, keep your house completely smoke-free.

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!

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