Sleep is one of the first things to go when you become a parent. (Goodbye, old friend!) Whether you’re battling your newborn’s sleep schedule, your toddler or elementary child’s sleep regression, or your teenager’s late nights, the fact is that both of your health statuses hinge on their sleep.
Is there any hope for us baggy-eyed parents? Will we ever sleep again?? How can we get them to sleep for all our sakes?!
One of the best ways to ensure not only sleep, but quality sleep, is to learn about and cater to their body’s natural sleep patterns. And by breaking down wake times by age, from newborn to teenager, we’re gonna help you get there! (We parents have to stick together.)
As we begin this journey into wake times, remember that everyone’s sleep requirements may differ. Factors such as individual lifestyles, habits, and health conditions can affect optimal wake times.
However, by following general wake times by age, you’ll be empowered to make informed decisions, adjust sleeping schedules, and create a more fulfilling daily rhythm for you and your family. Embarking on this exploration of wake times will not only help you identify the ideal amount of sleep for each age but also provide insights on how to optimize nap time, bedtimes, and activities for everyone.
So…let’s do this!
Wake Times by Age Groups
Newborns and Babies
During the first few months of your baby’s life, their sleep cycle is still developing. Newborns typically sleep around 16-18 hours per day, divided into nap time and nighttime sleep.
At this age, it’s common for them to wake up every 2-3 hours for feeding or diaper changes. It’s important to be patient and attentive to your baby’s cues and needs during this stage.
As your baby grows, their sleep patterns will start to shift. At 6-9 months, they may begin to sleep for longer periods during the night and consolidate their naps during the day.
This is also a common age for sleep regression, so creating a calm and consistent sleep environment is crucial. Look for signs of sleepiness and stick to a routine to help your baby settle into a predictable sleep schedule.
Between 12-18 months, your baby will likely transition from two naps a day to just one, typically lasting between 2-3 hours.
Nap time may vary during this period, but it’s essential to maintain a sleep schedule that aligns with their natural cues. At this stage, bedtime and wake times are more predictable, so reinforcing a consistent routine helps ensure proper rest.
18 Months to 3 Years
As your toddler reaches 18 months to 3 years, it’s common for them to consolidate their daytime sleep into a single nap. This nap time often occurs in the late morning or early afternoon and can last anywhere from 1-2 hours.
One of the best ways to promote healthy sleep habits and improve your toddler’s overall mood and energy level is to maintain a consistent bedtime and wake time.
Preschoolers need around 10-13 hours of sleep per day, with one nap usually lasting 90 minutes to 2 hours.
At this age, your child may start to resist napping, but it’s essential to continue carving out quiet time for rest. Providing a dark, quiet, and comfortable sleep environment encourages better sleep quality and supports your preschooler’s developing body and mind.
Teenagers have unique sleep requirements, with their circadian rhythms shifting their natural sleep patterns later into the night. On average, they need about 8-10 hours of sleep per night to support their growing bodies and minds.
Some of the best ways to help your teen prioritize rest and achieve adequate REM sleep include encouraging a consistent sleep routine, reducing screen time before bed, and promoting a relaxing sleep environment.
Understanding Baby Wake Windows
Wake times, also known as wake windows, are crucial in maintaining a healthy sleep schedule for your baby.
These periods refer to the amount of time your baby is awake between sleep sessions, such as naps or bedtime. By understanding your baby’s wake times, especially during their first year, you can ensure they get adequate sleep while growing.
When your baby is around 2-3 months old, new parents can start regulating their daily routine using average baby’s wake windows. These guidelines can help you with timing naps, bedtime, meals, and playtime, all while making sure your baby gets enough sleep.
As your baby grows, their wake windows will also change. For instance, between 4 to 5 months, the window ranges from 1.5 to 3 hours, and a more concrete schedule begins to take shape. When your baby reaches 6 to 12 months, their wake window amount of time increases to 2-4 hours.
This pattern continues to evolve as your child gets older. Children between 16 months and 3 years have a wake window of 4.5-6 hours.
To help your baby sleep better, it’s essential to correctly measure their wake times.
Start counting the wake window amount of time from the time your baby wakes up until their next nap, even if you don’t get them up for another 15 minutes. By using the exact time they woke up to set the next sleep period, you can create a more consistent and comfortable routine for your little one.
In summary, understanding and applying age-appropriate wake windows can significantly improve your baby’s sleeping habits and overall well-being. By paying attention to these important timeframes and adjusting them as your child grows, you can ensure they get the rest they need to thrive.
Feeding and Sleep
A crucial aspect of your baby’s growth intertwined with and affecting their sleep pattern during their first year is their feeding pattern. For this reason, you can’t fairly discuss one without at least considering the other.
During the early months, most babies can regulate their schedules by following average baby wake times on an “eat, wake, sleep cycle.” This cycle helps determine when to expect naps, bedtime, meals, and playtime, allowing your baby to get enough sleep and proper nourishment.
In the first days of life, your newborn might need eight to 12 feedings a day, which is around one feeding every two to three hours. It is essential that new parents offer frequent feeds to ensure the baby receives adequate nutrition and to prevent frustration that arises when they become too hungry.
As your baby grows and reaches the 3-4 month age range, there’s a slight difference in the number of nighttime feedings for breastfed and formula-fed babies.
Breastfed babies may require three to four feedings per night, while formula-fed babies may need two to three feedings. At this age, some babies can sleep for longer stretches of around seven to eight hours, but remember, it’s not the norm.
Once your little one is between 4 to 10 months old, they typically need approximately 14 hours of sleep daily, including 11-12 hours at night and 2-3 hours during the day. Many babies begin night-weaning within this age range, but the exact timing varies depending on whether you are breastfeeding or formula-feeding.
Maintaining a consistent feeding and sleep schedule is key to helping your baby achieve adequate rest and nourishment. By paying attention to their signs of hunger and sleepiness, you can better meet their needs and support their growth and development in a friendly and nurturing environment.
Identifying and Understanding Sleepy Cues
When it comes to helping your baby sleep, recognizing their sleepy cues can make the difference between a peaceful nap time and a fussy, overtired baby. In this section, you’ll learn how to identify and understand your baby’s sleepy cues to help them get the rest they need.
Babies often express when they’re tired through different cues. Early on, some common signs of tiredness include yawning, rubbing their eyes, pulling their ears, or becoming less responsive.
As they continue to become overtired, your baby may begin to cry or display signs of frustration. It’s essential to become attuned to these cues as they develop, as they can help you catch your baby’s sleepiness before they become overstimulated or too tired.
To avoid overstimulation, try to establish a comfortable and consistent sleep environment for your baby. This means keeping the room dark, using white noise if desired, and implementing a soothing pre-sleep routine.
You can also try to keep your baby’s wake windows age-appropriate. For instance, a 4-9 month old baby’s first nap should happen 1-2 hours after waking, with a bedtime between 6pm and 7pm (source).
Another factor you may encounter is the “witching hour,” a period of fussiness typically experienced in the late afternoon or evening. In this case, it’s crucial to remain patient and calmly soothe your baby, making sure they’re well-fed and not experiencing any discomfort.
As your baby grows and develops, their sleepy cues may change, so it’s important to adapt and continue learning about their sleep needs. By understanding your baby’s signs of tiredness, you’ll be better equipped to manage their naps and sleep schedule effectively, supporting their healthy growth and development.
Remember, staying attuned to your baby’s sleepy cues will go a long way in promoting a healthy sleep routine and a happier, more well-rested baby.
Wake Times By Age Effect on Growth
As your baby grows, their sleep patterns and needs will change as well.
Around six weeks, you might notice some changes in their sleep schedule. It’s essential to pay attention to these changes and adjust accordingly in order to support your baby’s growth and development.
Growth is a crucial aspect of your baby’s life, and it includes not only physical growth like increasing weight and height, but also mental growth like memory development.
Sleep plays a vital role in all these aspects. During sleep, your baby’s body releases growth hormones, which help with both physical and cognitive advancements.
In the first 12 months of a baby’s life, there is rapid growth and development happening. To support this growth, newborns (0 to 3 months) should average 14 to 17 hours of sleep a day, including naps.
As your baby continues to grow, around 4 to 11 months, their sleep needs change to an average of 12 to 15 hours per day, including naps.
Keep in mind that every baby is different, and depending on your baby’s age and circumstances, they might need more or less sleep than recommended to find their sweet spot.
It’s crucial to watch for any signs suggesting your baby needs more or less sleep to make necessary adjustments to help your baby sleep better overall. Monitoring and responding to your baby’s sleep needs will help ensure they get the rest they need to support their ongoing growth and development.
Sleep Training Techniques
Sleep training is about helping your baby learn to fall asleep by themselves, whether at the beginning of the night or when they wake up during the night. In this section, we will discuss several sleep training techniques that can make bedtime more manageable for both you and your child.
One way to support your baby’s healthy sleep habits is by establishing a bedtime routine. A routine provides a consistent pattern of activities that signal to your child that it’s time to sleep.
This may include a warm bath, reading a book, or gentle rocking. Make sure to keep the atmosphere calm and soothing, with dim lighting and quiet sounds, to set the stage for relaxation.
Sleep hygiene also plays a crucial role in your child’s sleep training process.
In addition to a bedtime routine, ensure that your baby’s sleep environment is comfortable, with a quiet, dark, and cool room. You can also use white noise machines to drown out any potential disturbances.
When it comes to specific sleep training methods, there are a few popular options:
- The Ferber Method: Developed by Dr. Richard Ferber, this technique involves putting your baby to bed while they’re still awake and allowing them to self-soothe. You start by checking on your child at gradually increasing time intervals, offering comfort but not picking them up. Over time, your baby learns to fall asleep independently.
- Gradual Retreating: With this method, you slowly reduce your involvement in helping your baby fall asleep. You might start by sitting next to their crib and gradually move farther away over several nights until your presence is no longer needed.
- Pick Up, Put Down: In this technique, you pick up and comfort your baby when they cry but place them back down in their crib while still awake. Repeat this process until your child falls asleep without your assistance.
Remember, every baby is different, and the best age and weight to begin sleep training can vary.
Consult your pediatrician for guidance on when to start and which technique may work best for your little one. By following these sleep training techniques and maintaining a consistent bedtime routine, you’ll be well-equipped to help your baby sleep in a way that serves both of you well.
Circadian Rhythm and Sleep
Any discussion surrounding wake times by age, or even sleep in general, is sure to mention “circadian rhythms”. What is that and why does it matter?
Your circadian rhythm is an internal clock that regulates various physiological processes in your body, including your wake and sleep cycle. It’s influenced by factors like light exposure and natural light, which affect your sleep patterns and overall well-being.
Getting enough natural light during the day can help you maintain a healthy circadian rhythm. Your body’s internal clock is sensitive to the light-dark cycle, adjusting itself to ensure you feel sleepy at night and stay alert during the day.
It’s essential to expose yourself to sunlight or, if unavailable, bright indoor lights during daytime hours. This will help regulate your circadian rhythm and improve the quality of your sleep.
As you age, your circadian rhythm may change, leading to alterations in your sleep patterns.
Older adults often experience a shift in their internal body clocks, causing them to feel sleepy earlier in the evening and wake up earlier in the morning, around 7pm to 8pm and 3am to 4am respectively. However, many people resist this natural inclination and choose to go to bed later, which can lead to sleep difficulties.
While it’s important to consider your child’s circadian rhythm in your quest for rest, it’s also important to factor in your own! To support a healthy circadian rhythm as you age, try incorporating the following tips:
- Increase natural light exposure: Spend time outside during daylight hours or open your curtains to let in sunlight.
- Establish a sleep schedule: Go to bed and wake up at consistent times each day to reinforce your circadian rhythm.
- Create a sleep-friendly environment: Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet at night to signal to your body that it’s time for rest.
By following these guidelines and being aware of how your circadian rhythm affects your sleep patterns, you can work towards getting better-quality sleep and maintaining overall health.
Setting the Sleep Environment
Creating a comfortable and relaxing sleep environment is essential for a good night’s sleep. In this section, we’ll discuss some factors to consider in setting up a healthy sleep environment.
Temperature: One of the most important aspects of your sleep environment is the temperature. A cool room, typically around 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit (15-19 degrees Celsius), is favorable for sleeping. Adjust your thermostat accordingly to ensure a comfortable rest.
Lighting: Before going to bed, it’s crucial to minimize exposure to bright and blue light, as this can disrupt your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. To do this, dim the lights in your child’s room, avoid using electronic devices close to bedtime, and use blackout curtains to block any outside light from entering their room.
Noise Level: Minimizing noise is essential for a peaceful sleep environment. Invest in a white noise machine and ensure their bedroom door and windows are closed to minimize noise disturbance.
Bedding: Choose a comfortable mattress, pillow, and sheets to support your child’s preferred sleep position and body type. It’s crucial to maintain clean and fresh bedding, as this will help in creating a pleasant and inviting sleep space.
Relaxation Techniques: Incorporating relaxation techniques into their bedtime routine can help reduce stress and create a more conducive environment for sleep. They can try reading, practicing mindfulness meditation, or enjoying a warm bath before bed to help their mind and body unwind.
Incorporating these suggestions into their sleep setting will make your child’s bedroom more inviting and conducive to restful sleep. Remember to customize these tips to suit personal needs and preferences.
Troubleshooting Sleep Issues
Experiencing issues with your child’s wake time or sleep deprivation can be challenging, but a few adjustments can go a long way in improving sleep quality. Adapting to a consistent sleep routine and creating a comfortable sleep environment will provide a solid foundation for better sleep.
First, try to stick to a regular sleep schedule, especially on weekends.
Gradually adjust their bedtime and wake time by about 15-30 minutes each day. This will help regulate their body’s internal clock, making it easier for them to fall asleep and wake up on time.
For those struggling with sleep disorders or sleep deprivation, it’s important to recognize the symptoms and address the root causes. Consider speaking to a doctor or a sleep specialist to learn more about potential treatment options.
If you’re dealing with an overtired baby, make sure they have a consistent sleep schedule, create a calming bedtime routine, and provide a comfortable and secure sleep environment. This can help your baby differentiate between day and night, reducing their awake times and sleep disturbances.
In addition to these steps, you can also:
- Avoid caffeinated beverages or heavy meals within a few hours of bedtime.
- Get regular exercise, but not right before bed.
- Turn off electronics and limit exposure to screens at least an hour before bedtime.
- Keep the bedroom cool, dark, and quiet to encourage restful sleep.
Remember, troubleshooting sleep issues might take some time and patience, but implementing these suggestions can help improve their overall sleep quality and restore their ability to wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
Consulting a Pediatrician About Wake Times By Age
When it comes to understanding your child’s wake windows, it’s essential to consult with a pediatrician. They are experts in child health and development and can provide personalized guidance based on your child’s age, growth, and unique needs.
Remember, each child is different, and general guidelines on wake times might not apply to everyone.
Your pediatrician will consider factors such as your child’s temperament, medical history, and any existing sleep issues to help determine the appropriate wake times. They may also suggest adjustments to your child’s sleep schedule based on various milestones, illness, or a change in routine.
It’s important to schedule regular well-child visits with your pediatrician. These visits are not only for when your child is sick but also to ensure their overall health and development are on track.
During these appointments, you can discuss concerns about wake times, sleep patterns, and any other issues you might have. As with every health concern, it’s important to ask your doctor any questions you have right away, rather than struggling with it alone for an unnecessarily long time.
In the meantime, you can also refer to resources such as infant sleep guidelines to get a general idea of baby wake windows by age. This can help you establish a routine that promotes healthy sleep habits for your child.
Whether you came here to learn about awake windows, or the total sleep your baby needs at different ages, or to research a long nap or early bedtime, you’re probably tired. In fact, you’ve probably been tired for what feels like a very long time. Am I right?
I just want to let you know that…you’ve got this! I know from first-hand experience the havoc that not getting enough sleep can wreak on your child, their health and attitude, yourself, and your health and sanity.
But it doesn’t last forever! I promise you that.
Implement some of these tips, talk to your pediatrician, call in reinforcements from your partner, parents, or friends, and hang in there, friend. You’ve got this.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wake Times By Age
What are the wake windows for different age groups?
Baby’s wake windows vary depending on the baby’s age. For newborns, wake windows are usually between 45 minutes to 1 hour.
For infants between 3-6 months, it can extend to 1.5-2.5 hours, and for 6-12 months, wake windows typically fall between 2-4 hours. Toddlers and young children have longer wake windows, ranging from 4-6 hours.
Keep in mind that these are general guidelines and individual needs may vary.
How to adjust wake windows for a 4-month-old?
One of the best ways to adjust wake windows at 4 months of age is to gradually increase your baby’s awake times between naps as they grow and develop. Observe your baby’s cues, such as yawning, rubbing their eyes, or fussiness, which can indicate they are getting tired.
Start by extending the wake window by 15 minutes per week, and continue to adjust based on your baby’s needs and sleep schedule. Remember that each baby is unique, and you should tailor the wake window to suit your 4-month-old’s individual sleep patterns.
What’s the appropriate wake window for a 13-month-old?
The appropriate wake window for 13 months of age is typically around 3-4 hours.
At this age, they might be shifting from two naps to one longer nap during the day. Observe your child’s individual sleep habits and cues to determine the right wake window for them, keeping in mind that every child is different.
What are the wake windows for newborns at night?
For newborns, the wake window at night is generally shorter, around 45 minutes to 1 hour.
It’s normal for newborns to have irregular sleep patterns during the night, which may include waking up for feeding or soothing. As your baby grows, their sleep patterns should consolidate, with longer stretches of sleep and more regular wake windows.
How long should a 2-month-old’s wake window be?
At 2 months of age, your baby’s wake window should ideally be between 1 to 1.5 hours.
Observe your baby for signs of sleepiness like yawning, eye-rubbing, or fussiness to determine when it’s time for a nap or bedtime. Keep in mind that every baby is different, and the wake window should be adjusted according to your child’s individual needs.
How long should a 4-year-old stay awake?
A 4-year-old should generally stay awake for about 10-12 hours during the day.
At this age, children typically need 10-12 hours of sleep per night and no longer require short naps. Ensure that your child has a consistent bedtime routine to support healthy sleep habits, and adjust their wake windows as needed to encourage a good night’s rest.
What if my child suffers from sleep anxiety?
Oof, that’s especially tough! (I’ve been there myself!) Click on over to this post all about sleep anxiety in children for some extra insight and support.
P.S. New baby? Download our FREE new parent pack for seven handy printable resources! From feeding trackers to stupid easy recipes, we’ve got ya covered! Get yours HERE.
Disclosure: While all opinions are our own, we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other affiliate advertising programs, designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites, at no additional cost to you.