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Newborn Wake Windows—Learning Better Sleep Habits For Your Baby

Newborn Wake Windows

Your baby’s wake window depends mainly on its age. Age-appropriate wake windows are essential in establishing a good bedtime routine, better sleep periods, and hitting developmental milestones at target times. 

Newborn wake windows aren’t something many parents consider, though, because newborns tend to sleep all the time.

In this article, we’ll look at your baby’s wake windows at the newborn stage and talk about what they are when they change and how long to let your baby sleep.

What are wake windows?

If you are new to the term “wake windows,” don’t feel silly or ignorant. You most likely know what it is but didn’t know the term.

A wake window is when your baby or child should stay awake before being put down for nap times or nighttime sleep. The older a baby gets, the longer the wake window they will have.

Why are wake windows important?

Understanding wake windows and following things like sleepy cues that will alert you to natural wake windows are what take you from having an overtired baby who doesn’t sleep well or is fussy to a baby who gets good sleep.

It will help you schedule awake time and have an estimated answer to the question, “When will baby wake up?”

Baby wake windows are suitable for the whole family. Have you ever put your baby down for a nap but then listened to them fuss on the monitor or through the door for ages? Then they fall asleep halfway through the next wake window, and whatever tasks or outings you had planned didn’t get done?

This usually occurs due to poor scheduling and no knowledge of your baby’s wake windows. Understanding your baby’s sleep cues can help you to understand a newborn sleep schedule so that you can better keep up with wake windows and baby’s sleep.

Newborn Wake Windows

Newborn wake windows

It may seem silly to plot out the awake time appropriate for a newborn because your brand-new baby probably sleeps most of the time.

However, starting to map and plan awake time and wake windows, as well as learning your baby’s sleepy cues, can help you to get in the habit for the future, and it can start to build good sleep habits in your newborn.

Not much time to stay awake

Don’t worry about planning many activities for baby wake windows at the newborn level. There’s not much point. A newborn wake window is typically between 45 minutes and one hour – not enough time to plan fun activities.

However, you should still interact with your little one during your baby’s wake window so that you can bond appropriately and start to learn things like sleepy cues.

Sleepy cues

As your child gets older, your baby’s naps and wake window length will change. A baby sleeping after an hour-long wake window is no longer an appropriate wake window at ten months. 

Learning your baby’s sleepy cues will help your baby fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and wake more refreshed.

You don’t necessarily have to look at charts after a few months of life with your baby to find the right wake window for your little one, so long as you understand their sleepy cues throughout the day.

What are sleep cues?

Sleep cues are signals that babies give that say that they are sleepy, getting overtired, or not tired at all. An overtired infant or toddler will have a more challenging time falling asleep for naps, tends to have a lot of sleep pressure which can lead to anxiety, and get stuck in a cycle of short naps that aren’t productive.

Baby is tired signs

If your baby is tired, their wake window is ending, and it’s time to get them down for a nap. The following are some of your baby’s cues: they are tired and need at least a short nap.

  • Turning head to the side or rooting
  • Glazed expressions on their face
  • Cuddling
  • Decreased energy

Overtired signs

If you weren’t paying attention when your little one was giving you signs that they were tired, you might be in for a rough night. 

An overtired little one has less chance of taking restorative naps and might stay awake because sleep schedules weren’t appropriate.

This is especially true during the newborn phase when wake windows are very short, and not getting enough sleep can make the newborn period a nightmare.

The following are signs that newborn babies have skipped a wake window or passed one and are now at risk of missing naps, waking quickly, or getting fussy.

  • Eye rubbing
  • Loud crying
  • Yawning
  • Body rigidity

Newborn Wake Windows

How to wake up a newborn

New parents may not know that even though their newborn may be getting great sleep, you still need to wake them for feeding time and the occasional diaper change. 

This task can be challenging, especially if your newborn can sleep easily in the early days of life.

You can do the following to wake your baby when it’s time to feed or change them.

  • Talk to them
  • Move their arms and legs around
  • Rub their face
  • Tickle their feet
  • Change their diaper if even it’s not needed
  • Take off some clothes and let the air get to them

Is my newborn sleeping too much?

There are certain times at which your baby will sleep more. These include when your baby is sick, during a growth spurt, and when recovering from a trip and just getting back to their bed.

However, if you are not observing any of these in your baby, your newborn may sleep too much.

If your newborn is sleeping for more than 17 hours in 24 hours, and you have tried to stay consistent and pay attention to your baby’s cues, but they are showing signs of sleepiness more often and for longer than usual, then you may need to speak to your child’s doctor.

Taking naps that are too long, not being awake enough, and sleeping through wake windows can negatively impact your baby’s growth and weight.

If this happens with your child, your doctor may order a sleep study or tests by a certified pediatric sleep consultant to get to the root of the cause.

Baby wake windows

Knowing the length of your newborn’s wake window will help you establish good sleep habits. As your baby grows, you can adjust it so that the last nap isn’t too close to bedtime; they have fewer naps throughout the day, stay on their growth chart, and hit developmental milestones.

If you pay enough attention, it may seem like your newborn constantly sleeps, but they’re telling you about their wake windows. Sticking with a nap and bedtime routine now will save you a lot of hassle later in life.

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