Understanding your baby’s sleep and awake times
During the first few years of your little one’s life, their awake windows will change as their sleep needs change. Knowing this is a real game-changer, trust us. Understanding how and when they should be sleeping, according to their age, can help you plan your days around their sleep schedule, and will also help their overall sleep at night. Putting your baby to bed before they are ready, or too late once they are overtired, can spell disaster and throw the whole day and night out.
Our Daily Rhythms, tailored to your child’s age and stage, will help to guide you on what to expect for your little one. For example, newborns should only be awake for around 45 mins, or roughly the length of a feed and a cuddle. This window opens up as they grow and become more alert and can handle more awake time.
What is an Awake Window?
Awake windows are the length of time your little one is awake for between their naps. Understanding this ‘window of time’, based on their age, is one of the key factors in settling them for sleep. Putting down an under tired or overtired baby makes settling so much harder. New parents are often unaware of how frequently these windows change in those early weeks and months, but knowing this can be a game changer.
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At this stage, your baby is still too young to have a predictable routine but you can still seek a gentle rhythm. Their awake cycle will be between 1hr 15mins – 1hr 30mins, including the feed.
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Your little one won’t be ready for prescriptive timings just yet! Following a consistent bath + bedtime ritual is a nice way to start forming a gentle rhythm. Their awake cycle will be between 1hr 15mins – 1hr 30mins.
You may start to see more predictability in your baby around 12 weeks. Following a daily rhythm will help you find a flow in your day to ensure their needs are met. Their awake window will be around 1hr 30mins.
A lot of people think their baby will magically start sleeping once they start solids – but that isn’t always the case. Understanding how day sleeps can impact nights is key! Their awake window will be around 1hr 45min – 2hrs.
Heading out and about becomes a whole lot easier once your baby is able to stay awake for longer. Their awake window will now be between 2hr – 2hrs 30mins.
The Sleeping Environment
Once you know where they are at with their awake window, you can plan your movements throughout the day. For example, is your car journey long enough for them to get uninterrupted sleep? If it is, then why not let them have that sleep en route? If you are traveling on a busy train or bus, chances are they won’t be able to sleep. This is where you can either head out after their nap or make sure you arrive at the destination in time for their sleep. They will be able to drift off much easier in a more calm and quiet environment – and potentially sleep for longer.
As your little one gets older, they may even refuse to sleep outside. So pick your battles. Do you want to head out earlier in the day so that you are back for the afternoon nap? Nobody wants to be dealing with an overtired toddler. Of course, there will be occasions where you will have to take your child out at an inconvenient time. That’s life! Try not to get too worried about it and just plan around it the best that you can.
Chris Minogue Follow +
Chris is Australia's leading Mothercraft Nurse, with over 35 years experience working in both public and private hospitals. Chris has worked with thousands of families globally, to support them through all aspects of parenting – from newborn through to toddler years. Chris also specialises in twins, surrogacy and travel, and has worked with some of the biggest...
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