How To Accurately Calculate Baby Wake Time Length

Did you know that if you keep baby up too long or too short baby won’t sleep well? This post discusses how to correctly count the time baby is awake.

Mom and Baby together

You know waketime length is very important for good naps, but you have no idea how to calculate your baby’s wake time length.

When does it start? When does it end? How do you know for sure how long your baby was up?

This post answers that for you. 

If you want your baby to take a nice long nap, one of the most important bits of knowledge for you to have is to know how to properly calculate waketime length.

Parents often wonder things like — do I include feeding time in the wake time length? Or — do I start as soon as baby is awake and go until baby actually falls asleep?

The cornerstone for a good nap is having the correct waketime length. I have talked extensively about how to figure waketime length out and have given you ballpark numbers to aim for.

That is all great knowledge, but you need to know how to calculate waketime length. If you don’t know how, you will never hit that perfect number.

You might know that a 2 week old should be awake for 30-40 minutes, but if you do not include feeding time in that number, your baby will be up WAY too long and not sleep well.

Calculating Baby Wake Time Basics

Waketime starts when your baby wakes.

Waketime ends when you put your baby in his crib for a nap (or bedtime). NOT when baby falls asleep.

Waketime DOES include feeding time. It is time your baby is awake. 

Easy right?!?!? 

It sounds easy until you add in the “What ifs”. 

Find a baby wake time chart here

Baby Wake Time Length Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about baby wake time length along with the answers.

Does feeding time count as baby’s awake time?


The time your baby spends eating is also “awake time”. When you see waketime length recommendations from me, including feeding time in that calculation.

Does feeding time count as wake time

What if my baby doesn’t fall asleep for thirty minutes, is when I put baby in bed still when waketime ended?


The purpose of even calculating waketime length is to know how long is perfect for your baby to fall asleep quickly and take a good nap.

That thirty minutes awake will not be “nap” time, but it also isn’t calculated into your “waketime.”

Take note that with that waketime length, your baby took thirty minutes to fall asleep. That is good data to track. If you need help tracking, be sure to purchase my Logs eBook here! 

What if your baby wakes up early and stays in the crib for a while before you get her up? Is that still when it starts?

This is where things can get very tricky. 

The time your baby spends awake in the crib before you get her up is waketime.

It is not, however, necessarily minute for minute. This is where you will have to experiment.

For some babies, every minute awake in the crib needs to be counted straight across for minutes of waketime. For others, it is more of a “half-time.”

So if your baby was awake for 20 minutes in the crib before you got her up, you would count that as ten minutes. The only way to know what is best for her is to experiment and see what happens. 

You can read much more about this in the post How to Calculate Waketime When Baby Wakes Early.

How long should my baby be awake?

The answer to this is dependent on your baby’s age. How long a newborn is awake is very different from how long a 4 month old is awake.

It is also dependent on your baby’s individual sleep needs. Some babies need more sleep than others.

I have a very extensive post on how to find your baby’s ideal wake time length here: Optimal Waketime Lengths

How to calculate baby awake time pinnable image

How can I tell exactly what time my baby woke up?

First, do not stress yourself trying to figure out the exact time your baby woke up. You want to track wake time from when they wok up, but as I said above, the time in the crib isn’t the exact same as time out of the crib.

I liked using a video monitor in the younger months when wake time length is more sensitive. That way I know when baby is awake.

You can also use just an audio monitor or listen for your baby and go off of when you first hear your baby make a noise when nap is over.

So just be aware and take note as best you can what time your baby woke up.

Free Waketime Length Worksheet

Be sure to check out my free Wake Time Length Worksheet to figure out if you should extend wake time or not.

Wake Time Length Worksheet


Now you know just how to count waketime, so in your quest for finding your baby’s optimal waketime length, you can calculate correctly. You are well on your way to better naps!

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This post originally appeared on this blog in September 2016

10 thoughts on “How To Accurately Calculate Baby Wake Time Length”

  1. My 13 week old daughter went down for a nap at 1:45pm and should be due for her next feeding 3:30pm (1hr 45 minute nap), it took her 10 minutes to fall asleep (only minimal intermittent crying), then she woke up 25 minutes after falling asleep. I allowed her to CIO for 15 minutes but there was no going back to sleep so I went and got her and am making sure not to feed her until her scheduled time at 3:30 (3hrs after her previous feeding). So let me see if I am understanding correctly on what to do for the next time to put her down for nap… -I would not count the 10 minutes it took her to go to sleep toward anything, would just note it to compare with future naps to see what prior waketime is ideal for her to go down quickest/easiest for that nap.-I would count the 25 minutes she slept as her nap time.-I would count the 15 minutes she was awake while I was trying to let her CIO as part of her awake time(75min) before her next nap.-Sooooooo… she has been awake since 2:20 pm and with an awake time of 75 minutes before her next nap that would put her due to go down for her next nap at 3:35 pm which is literally right about when I will be finished nursing her next and I know its not good to switch up the cycle order where she is sleeping right after eating. Ugggggh what would you do, cause I'm stumped?! Have her try to go down for a quick nap after a short awake time and wake her up in time to eat at 3:30pm? If I do that and she won't go to sleep should I just make sure to keep her up for a little while after she feeds (10-15 minutes) then try to put her down for another nap? I feel like the whole rest of the day is ruined 🙁

  2. is there not a standard or base to go off of based on how many weeks old they are? I have gone back and forth between the two articles over and over trying to find some sort of chart? Am I just really sleep deprived or is this post intentionally confusing?

  3. Hi! Your blog and your book The Babywise Mom Nap Guide have been a lifesaver, thank you for writing them! I still have one issue though, despite my best efforts my son (8 wks),still falls asleep during feedings at least once per day, usually more often. What should I do in thids case? Let him sleep or wake him up so he would have some wake time? If the latter, how should I calculate the waketime in this case? From the moment he woke up from his nap or from when I wake him up after the feeding?

    • Hello! I am so glad the blog and book have been helpful.

      I would wake your baby up when he falls asleep during feedings. See this post for more on that topic:

      Sometimes, your baby just will not wake up. In that case, just put him down for a nap.

      If you do get him to wake up, I would calculate wake time from when you woke him up from the nap. You will have a little different number since he will have taken a power nap during the feeding, so if he usually does 50 minutes wake time when he does not take a power nap, he might need 60 minutes if he takes that power nap–so if you get him up at 10 AM, he would go down at 10:50 if no power nap but 11 if there was a power nap. You will have to find what is best for him. But that post I linked will help a lot. This one will be good, too:

  4. My 9 month old went down for his nap at his regular time but with him going through a growth spurt he was hungry , which I didn’t realize till 15 minutes after I put him down. So I got him out of his crib and fed him for 15 minutes (had to heat up a bottle twice, 2oz at a time) and put him back down. Do I count those initial 15 minutes of crying in the crib toward his nap time or wake time? or towards nothing? Thanks!

  5. I’m currently sleep training my 9 week old and I’m running into some problems. We’ve been sleep training for 5 days now and he keeps waking up at random times during his nap. He’ll fall asleep and then he could wake up 5, 10, 25, 35, minutes later – there isn’t a pattern. His room is dark, he’s sleeping in his bassinet, he’s swaddled with a little fan so he doesn’t get too hot, his wake windows are about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes (depends on when he starts showing sleep cues) and he gets full feeds every time he eats. I’m not sure what to do about him waking up so frequently, but he’s not sleeping very much during the day because of it. Does anyone have any ideas for what could be happening?


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