If you want your baby to take a long nap, your baby cannot be awake too long. That is the first thing to know when you are working on fixing short naps. You will not have long naps if your baby’s waketime length is too long. The same can be true if waketime length is too short.
In order to have you baby fall asleep easily on her own and to take a good nap, your baby must be awake for the correct length of time. That is the cornerstone. That is the foundation to build off of. If you do not have waketime correct, nothing else that you have correct will matter. You can’t get anything else right enough to still hold up good naps.
I have compiled these numbers based on surveying Babywise parents for over a decade. These numbers work for a baby who is accustomed to getting routine naps and having sleep a regular part of the day. Sleep begets sleep. I have included ranges because there will always be high sleep needs babies and low sleep needs babies and everything in between. Most babies should fit within these ranges, though there will always be outliers on either side. Always trust yourself as the parent of your baby to make the best judgment call for your baby’s sleep needs.
Finding the best waketime–what I refer to as “optimal waketime”–for your baby is not necessarily a fast or easy process. Probably one of the most frustrating parts of the process is that optimal waketime changes throughout your baby’s life. What was optimal two weeks ago might be too short today. I don’t say that to deter you or to make you decide it isn’t worth trying. It is worth it! Just know this is your new thing–being aware of waketime. This is a part of your everyday life now.
So how do you start to find this waketime length? The best place to start is where most babies find optimal. You will want to start with the “average” and work from there. So much of parenting requires some experimentation, and finding optimal is no different. You will need to start somewhere and then work from there. If the average doesn’t work for your baby, try either adding time or taking time off. Average is great, but there are always outliers and your baby might be one of them.
I have created this infographic cheat sheet for you. This is what is typically optimal for most babies in each age range. Like I said, there are always outliers. There will always be the babies who need shorter waketime than most and the babies who need longer waketime than most. The range varies more as babies get older. Start with what is average and work from there. See my post Optimal Waketime Lengths for help on knowing how to adjust waketime lengths.
You can view this graphic online here. If you click on the graphic, it will enlarge. You can also get a PDF file for free here. As you experiment, you will need to take notes. I have created a book of logs for you to use to keep track of what your baby needs and what works. You can purchase my ebook of logs to have a copy of the logs, this infographic, and other helpful inforgraphic. You will also get my files to help find optimal.
Once you have found that “optimal” for your baby, your baby will start taking nice, long naps. This is a process, but it is fully worth it! The effort you put into this has great payout.
These posts can help you:
- How To Calculate Waketime Length
- Adding Waketime to Your Newborn’s Day
- Extending Waketime
- Optimal Waketime Lengths
- “Waketime: Length, Extending, and Calculating
- Waketime Length for Newborns
- Waketime When Baby Wakes Early
- Waketime When They Wake Early
Free Wake Time Length Worksheet
Be sure to check out my free Wake Time Length Worksheet to figure out if you should extend wake time or not.
Follow me on YouTube for helpful videos as you raise your kiddos. I cover a lot of different topics, with full coverage of baby schedules and baby sleep.
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