Being a parent, you have to know about wake windows. If you haven’t heard about them, bless you because you haven’t experienced the stress of trying to get them right. Even as a second time mom and sleep consultant who has helped many families nail down a great schedule, it stresses me out. What if I told you, though, that wake windows are not studied, set in stone practice? They’re just a bunch of averages based on seeing many kids and babies and their wakefulness.
WHY DO WE USE WAKE WINDOWS?
So why do we even bother with them? Even though they aren’t a scientific practice, they do have some value to them. Ask any expert in the sleep industry, and they will tell you that they see a pattern on how long babies of all ages can stay awake. All of that experience has led experts to create “wake windows” which can help you determine how long your baby should be awake. Many consultants have different wake windows that they use with their clients because that is what they have found what seems to be the best for them.
Wake windows are an average of many babies’ awake time. This means that while your baby may only be able to stay awake for 2 hours at most, your sister’s baby of the same age could only be able to stay up for 1.5 hours. Your friend’s baby might also be able to stay awake for 3 hours. Knowing these averages give us an idea of when to start really zoning in on our baby’s sleepy cues.
SO SHOULD I USE THEM OR NOT?
It is totally up to you whether you go by wake windows when it comes to your baby’s sleep. Personally, once babies get to the point of taking 2 naps a day, I like to switch to a set schedule. A schedule is not very different from using wake windows because by that point, your baby will have developed pretty consistent wake windows.
The issue with wake windows comes in two main areas. The first is when people use them like they are a law. You’ll see in every Facebook group out there someone preaching about wake windows and how your baby can not possibly be able to stay awake for that long. It’s 100% possible that, yes, your baby doesn’t fit in the typical window. The second is when your baby takes short naps. When your baby takes a short nap (or naps), it brings everything up in the day. What ends up happening is you get too close to bedtime for a full nap, but it’s too far away to stay awake.
HOW DO I FIGURE OUT MY BABY’S WAKE WINDOWS?
Like I said before, each baby is different in the exact amount of time they stay awake, but they all fall somewhere around the range given in wake window charts. To find your baby’s specific wake windows, begin tracking them. Refer to a wake window chart so you know around what to expect. Start tracking how long your baby stays awake between naps and bedtime. Down to the minute. Do this for about a week. Once the week is up, take the average of those times, and that is your very own personalized wake window.
Wake windows are incredibly stressful, especially when you get so many conflicting numbers from so many sources. Refer to this chart to help you determine about how long your little one should be awake between naps and then use my method to find your baby’s personalized wake windows.
Struggling with wake windows still? Need help coming up with a good schedule that works for your family? Let’s chat about it! Click here to book a free 15-minute discovery call to get started today.
Hi! I’m Ashlyn. I’m a mom of 2 (preschooler and infant), and a certified sleep consultant. I love my job and getting to help families get the best rest possible. My favorite thing is when my clients’ babies have improvements in areas not even related to sleep as a reaction to getting good sleep.