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Wake Windows by Age Chart: Help Your Baby Sleep Better With The Right Schedule

Putting your baby on the right schedule can do wonders for your baby’s sleep. But, babies change so fast and it’s hard to figure out the right schedule. As a sleep consultant for over 13 years, I’m sharing appropriate wake windows by age in this article. Use this chart to help set your baby’s wake windows, get onto a good schedule, and, hopefully, solve some of your sleep problems!

What is a Wake Window?

A “wake window” is the amount of time your baby is awake between sleep periods, either their next nap or bedtime. I count a wake window from when the time the baby wakes up to the next time they fall asleep. Even if you don’t get your baby up for 15 minutes, I recommend you use the time they actually woke up to set your next sleep period.

For example, if your baby wakes up at 7:00 AM and has a wake window of two hours, they should be asleep BY 9:00 AM.

Why Do Wake Windows Matter?

Have you ever been so tired that you can’t sleep? You feel restless and on edge. This is because our bodies release hormones to fight fatigue and give us a “second wind.”

Babies go through the same thing and when they are awake too long, they can’t fall asleep, cry, or seem to fight sleep. Or, they fall asleep but wake up a lot because they can’t seem to get settled. Many times, babies will wake up and cry a lot for several hours, and then they might get into a deeper sleep.

If babies aren’t awake long enough, they may take short naps. Although short naps are more commonly caused by a baby being overtired by being awake too long, there are some babies who take short naps due to under-tiredness.

Getting your baby’s wake windows correct will usually help your baby nap longer, sleep better at night, and not wake up too early in the morning.

Newborn Wake Windows

Newborns can’t stay awake for long periods of time so they have short wake windows. Your newborn’s schedule should reflect very short awake periods in the beginning. Most of the time, newborns will only be awake long enough to eat and get a diaper change before you need to put them back to sleep. Therefore, a newborn’s wake window is often just 45-60 minutes.

Newborns are taking in a lot of information and so much is new to them. Life in the outside world is very stimulating and they are also growing very quickly so they need a lot of sleep. The most notable thing about newborns, in the beginning, is that they often have days and nights confused. But, don’t worry! Your newborn will sort out their days and nights within a couple of weeks. As your baby reaches 6-8 weeks old, they can begin to stay awake for 1-2 hours at a time.

Are Wake Windows The Same All Day?

Have you noticed your baby seems really sleepy first thing in the morning but then stays awake longer later in the day? If so, you’re not alone and it’s actually very common!

Although it’s counter-intuitive, the first wake window is often one of the shortest of the day. This seems backward since they just slept all night, right? However, babies often get sleepy again soon in the morning and have longer awake periods later in the day.

In addition, many babies have their shortest wake window first thing in the morning and again right before bed. For example, a 4-month-old might stay awake 90 minutes before the first nap, then stay awake 2 hours before the other naps, and then 90 minutes before bedtime. Since the last nap of the day is often a catnap, consider it a short “bridge” to bedtime.

On the other hand, if your baby is very consistent and stays awake a consistent amount of time throughout the day, that’s also normal. A 6-month-old might stay awake two hours before each sleep period all day. If this is the case, consider yourself lucky that you have a predictable routine. It’s also normal!

All babies are different so it’s okay and even encouraged, to customize your baby’s schedule to follow their natural pattern.

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Wake Windows Chart – From Newborn to 5 Years Old

Babies go through many changes throughout the first few years especially when it comes to sleep. There are a number of sleep regressions and schedule changes. Be sure to download one of our free e-Books to help your baby sleep better.

As far as how long your baby should be awake, here is a chart with wake windows by age. However, be sure to use the overtired signs to determine if they are too long for your unique baby.

Average Wake Windows By Age

Age Total Sleep Per Day Average Wake Window Additional Resource
0-4 Weeks 15-18 hours 45-75 minutes Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep
5-8 Weeks 15-18 hours 45-90 minutes Newborn Schedules By Week
9-12 Weeks 14-17 hours 1-2 hours 2-3 Month Old Baby Sleep Guide
3-4 Months 14-15 hours 1-2 hours 4-Month Sleep Regression
5-6 Months 14-15 hours 2 to 2 1/2 hours Mastering Naps & Schedules
7 Months 13-14 hours 2-3 hours How to Handle Your Baby’s Separation Anxiety
8-10 Months 13-14 hours 2-3 hours before naps and up to 4 hours before bedtime once they transition to two naps 8/9/10 Month Sleep Regression
11-13 Months 12-14 hours 3-4 hours 12 Month Sleep Regression and Why Not All 12 Month Olds Transition to One Nap
15-23 Months 12-14 hours 5 hours (once transitioned to one nap) 18 Month Sleep Regression
18 Months to 2 Years 12-14 hours 5-6 hours 2 Year Sleep Regressions
3-5 Years 11-13 hours 6-7 hours if napping, otherwise, ~12-13 hours 3 Signs Your Toddler Is Ready To Stop Napping

I hope this chart has helped you decide on the wake windows that are best for your baby or toddler. If you need any help, please feel free to contact us today!

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The post Wake Windows by Age Chart: Help Your Baby Sleep Better With The Right Schedule appeared first on The Baby Sleep Site – Baby / Toddler Sleep Consultants.

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How to Get Back to School Schedule and Maximize Sleep

Summertime is fun-filled with trips to the pool, vacations, movie nights, and late bedtimes. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. School starts soon and you might be wondering how to get back to a school schedule. This post will share tips to help your family start the school year out right!

Why is Back to School Difficult?

First, let’s review quickly why getting back to school schedule-wise is so difficult.

Our bodies have internal clocks and light stimulating our eyes is what signals our brain to wake or sleep. So, when we start to go to bed late, we signal our brain to move our internal clock later. Then, we start to sleep later and our entire “clock” shifts forward. This is what happens with Daylight Saving when we Fall Back or Spring Forward. It takes a few days to a week to adjust to the 1-hour time change.

During the summer, however, many of our children (mine included) get more off-schedule than just one hour. In fact, my sons have often gotten about 4 hours off schedule since they are teenagers, now. Therefore, it’s going to be more difficult than Daylight Saving to get them back to school schedules.

Here’s how to adjust your child’s schedule back to a school schedule:

2-3 Weeks Before School Starts: The Gradual Method in 2 Easy Steps

If you have time, it is best to start 2-3 weeks before school starts and ideally, they would be on the school schedule at least 2-3 days before school starts. They will have a much smoother first week of school if you put in the time and effort now. If you don’t have 2-3 weeks, please see below. I got you covered!

Step 1: Add Structure Back to Your Day

No need to create an entire faux school day, but try to add at least one or two things back into the structure of your day if things have slipped significantly. For example, if you let your kids set their own bedtimes in the summer, start having a bedtime again even if it’s initially “too late” for a school schedule. Similarly, if you’ve been letting them sleep until whatever time they want, start getting them up at the same time every day. Again, even if it’s “too late” for school, this gives you a starting point.

Try to make sure you set the initial schedule such that they are getting enough sleep. Most school-aged children need an average of 10 hours of sleep at night. However, keep in mind that sleep needs range from 9-11 hours depending on the age of your child and their unique needs. So, your starting schedule might be 11:00 PM bedtime and wake up for the day at 9:00 AM, for example.

Step 2: Start Waking Them Up Earlier…Gradually

If you’re starting 2-3 weeks early, you can make a more gradual change to keep the fatigue and crankiness away. This also allows you to enjoy a few more late nights, too!

But, you can’t just start going to bed earlier if you still sleep late. That’s just not how it works. We can’t force ourselves, or our kids, to fall asleep by a certain time but we CAN make ourselves wake up at a certain time. So, it’s easier to start there. So, wake them up a little bit earlier every day.

Here’s an idea of how it would work for a 2-week adjustment:

  • Days 1-2: Wake up at 8:45 AM and Bedtime at 10:45 PM
  • Days 3-4: Wake up at 8:30 AM and Bedtime at 10:30 PM
  • Days 5-6: Wake up at 8:15 AM and Bedtime at 10:15 PM
  • Days 7-8: Wake up at 8:00 AM and Bedtime at 10:00 PM
  • Days 9-10: Wake up at 7:45 AM and Bedtime at 9:45 PM
  • Days 11-12: Wake up at 7:30 AM and Bedtime at 9:30 PM
  • Day 13: Wake up at 7:15 AM and Bedtime at 9:15 PM
  • Day 14: Wake up at 7:00 AM and Bedtime at 9:00 PM

On the other hand, you can also shift in 30-minute increments instead like this:

  • Days 1-3: Wake up at 8:30 AM and Bedtime at 10:30 PM
  • Days 4-6: Wake up at 8:00 AM and Bedtime at 10:00 PM
  • Days 7-9: Wake up at 7:30 AM and Bedtime at 9:30 PM
  • Day 10: Wake up at 7:00 AM and Bedtime at 9:00 PM

IMPORTANT NOTE: Even though you are waking up your child earlier every day, they may or may not actually fall asleep “on time.” Still, stick with the correct bedtime and wake-up time the next day. You are signaling their internal clock if they are in bed even if they aren’t sleeping just yet.

Video About School Schedules

See me talk about this on the NBC News here:

1 Week Before School Starts: The Faster Method

Some of us aren’t so good about preparing ahead of time or maybe we don’t want to. Maybe we are enjoying the late nights!

If you have a child who isn’t prone to crankiness as much or you’re willing to brave a few rough days or, frankly, you have no choice, you can simply shift to a school schedule faster like this:

  • Days 1-2: Wake up at 8:30 AM and Bedtime at 10:30 PM
  • Days 3-4: Wake up at 8:00 AM and Bedtime at 10:00 PM
  • Days 5-6: Wake up at 7:30 AM and Bedtime at 9:30 PM
  • Day 7: Wake up at 7:00 AM and Bedtime at 9:00 PM

Go much faster than this and you might have a few really long and tiring days, plus your child is likely to be very tired by the time school starts. This is similar to jet lag while traveling. So, if possible, try to change your child’s schedule at least a week leading up to school starting.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Even though you are waking up your child earlier every day, they may or may not actually fall asleep “on time.” Still, stick with the correct bedtime and wake-up time the next day. You are signaling their internal clock if they are in bed even if they aren’t sleeping just yet.

Be sure to hear me talk about getting back to a school schedule on the No Guilt Mom Podcast!

Can I Let Them Stay Up Late on the Weekend?

With school schedules, we often have late bedtimes on the weekend. Can you do that when you’re adjusting their schedules back to school?

While you might be able to allow a late bedtime, I recommend you don’t let it shift by more than 30 minutes. Unfortunately, you run the risk of having to start all over if you do that.

What About After School Starts?

Once school starts, remember that they are likely to be extra tired. They are learning the new teacher’s rules, learning new information, meeting new friends, etc. And, if you have athletes, they are also expending energy playing their sport(s).

So, make sure you plan to have extra patience AND an early bedtime!

If your child normally needs 9 hours of sleep at night, consider allowing for 9 1/2 hours for the first week or two of school. Make sure you have some downtime on the weekend and don’t overbook yourselves, especially if your schedule doesn’t allow for enough sleep during the week due to outside activities, homework, etc.

What Is a Good Bedtime?

During the school year, make sure you have a bedtime that’s appropriately early for the amount of sleep they need. And, allow some downtime and fall-asleep time. Here are a few sample schedules to consider:

School Schedule Bedtime Chart

# of Hours Needed Wake-Up Time Bedtime
9

6:00 AM 9:00 PM
9

6:30 AM 9:30 PM
9

7:00 AM 10:00 PM
9

7:30 AM 10:30 PM
10

6:00 AM 8:00 PM
10

6:30 AM 8:30 PM
10

7:00 AM 9:00 PM
10

7:30 AM 9:30 PM
11

6:00 AM 7:00 PM
11

6:30 AM 7:30 PM
11

7:00 AM 8:00 PM
11

7:30 AM 8:30 PM

I Hate Waking My Kids! What Can I Do?

As our children get older, we want them to be more independent. Therefore, you might want to start having them set an alarm to wake themselves up. You might need to help them set it and make sure they do while getting them on their school schedule, of course. Unfortunately, we still have to parent sometimes but the more you put the job in their hands, the more independent they will become.

Does your child or teenager sleep through alarms? I bought my son the Sonic Bomb Alarm which is very loud and vibrates the bed. Works like a charm!

Conclusion

Getting enough sleep for your child can not only help them get better grades but also help avoid behavior problems and depression among other things. Sleep is vitally important for children and entire families to thrive. I hope these tips help you and your family, and you have a GREAT school year!

The post How to Get Back to School Schedule and Maximize Sleep appeared first on The Baby Sleep Site – Baby / Toddler Sleep Consultants.