As a Sleep Coach, I often see awake windows being much too long. Baby is overtired and parents are struggling with naps, bedtime and frequent middle of the night wakings. So how do you know if your baby is tired and ready for naps or bedtime? Here are a few sleep cues to look for.
Getting Sleepy: Baby may start being uninterested in toys or maybe even you; looking off into space. Start working on your nap/bedtime routine now to get them to sleep before they are overtired.
Time For Bed: This is when you will see more signs like yawning red eyes and fussing. Now is the time to get your child in bed so they can fall asleep. Try not to skip your regular routine. You can adjust and make it slightly shorter as needed but always offer a consistent routine to help signal the body that it is bedtime.
Overtired: Your baby may become inconsolable, show signs like red eyes or pulling at their ears. You may even see a burst of energy. This “second wind” is definitely a good sign that they are overtired. Once baby is overtired, you may find that it takes longer to get your child to settle and fall asleep.
STILL STRUGGLING TO UNDERSTAND SLEEP CUES?
Along with these sleep cues, you can use their age appropriate awake windows to better understand when to offer their next sleep. During the first 4-5 months, I suggest using these awake windows to follow a routine rather than a strict schedule.
0-3 months: The maximum awake time during the newborn stage is 60-90 minutes. This is often just enough time to change a dirty diaper, feed your baby, snuggle and change another dirty diaper before they doze off. Naps in the early months are often short and frequent.
3-6 months: Naps should be offered after 1.5-2.5 hours of awake time. Most often this allows for 3 naps . Around the 5 month mark is when we start seeing naps consolidating from short snoozes to longer naps.
6-9 months: You will start seeing your baby consolidate to 2 naps with 2.5-3 hours of awake time in between.
9-13 months: At this age, naps should be offered after about 2.5-4 hours of awake time between each sleep. The shortest awake window should be offered in the morning while the longest awake window is between the last nap and bedtime.
13-18 months This is the most common time to transition to 1 nap with 4.5-6 hours of a wake time. Make sure to offer an early bedtime if nap is short to avoid them becoming overtired.
18 months-3 years: Continue to offer a nap with 5-6 hours of awake time. Your child is usually ready to drop the nap altogether between 3-4 years old. It’s still important to offer a “quiet time” until they are able to go from morning wakeup to bedtime without major meltdowns. It’s also wonderful for parents and caregivers to have some downtime in the middle of the day too.
About the Author
Heidi Lovens -Founder Every Day Lovens
I am a business owner, toddler mama to my 2 year old son, Lennon and wife, to my busy and often sleep deprived Fire Fighter husband. Sleep is so important in our household! My husband often comes home exhausted after a busy shift at the fire house. This is why I created Everyday Lovens in 2015; to help educate parents and caregivers on the fundamentals and importance of sleep. I specialize in gentile and holistic techniques to create healthy lifelong habits. Each plan and approach is customized to a families unique needs.