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How to determine how long your Babywise baby’s waketime length should be. How to know when to extend baby’s waketime length, how to calculate baby’s waketime length.
Parents often have questions about waketime length. How long should waketime be for my X month old? How do I extend it? I am going to give one of the most-despised answers to that. It depends on the child.
It really does! At 5 months old, Brayden, my oldest, would stay awake for 2 hours. Conversely, Kaitlyn, my second, could not stay awake longer than 1 hour. So how long can/should your baby stay awake? This is one of those things you are going to have to determine for yourself.
How to Determine Waketime Length
You can tell the needed waketime through a few indicators.
- One is how long your baby can stay happy.
- Another is how well your baby sleeps.
- A third is how long it takes baby to fall asleep.
- Follow your baby’s sleep cues, assuming she has them.
- And yet another way to tell is the amount of time before the next feeding. You want baby to go down in time to get the appropriate nap length before the next scheduled feeding.
If you are on a 3 hour schedule but your child can stay awake longer than one hour, just make sure they are getting 1-1.5 hours of sleep. If your baby is 9 weeks or older, you want at least 1.5 hour naps. Once you move to a 3.5+ schedule, naps can be 2-2.5 hours in length.
There are guidelines in how long to expect a baby to stay up. A young baby (2 months or younger) can pretty assuredly only do 45-60 minutes of waketime. Remember, weeks 16-24 (about 4-6 months) are called Extended Day in Babywise. This is the time period many babies extend their waketime.
When To Extend Waketime Length
Now on to extending waketime. Don’t force your child to stay up. Wait until they are ready to extend. How do you know if she is ready to extend?
- Again, watch for your baby’s sleep cues to know when she needs to go down.
- A good indicator of the child being ready to extend waketime is when she plays in her bed instead of going to sleep. This needs to be something consistent, though. If I get Kaitlyn down late, she will often play for a while before falling asleep. But if you are putting baby down the same time every day and she plays for X amount of time every day, then you can bet she is ready to stay up longer.
- If you are moving to a longer schedule (for example, from 3 to 4 hours), your baby might be able to stay up longer. Other babies move schedules and just take longer naps. It will depend on your baby’s need for sleep and ability to stay awake successfully.
How to Calculate Waketime Length
Many moms are unsure of how to calculate waketime. Waketime starts the minute baby wakes up and ends the minute baby goes down for a nap. Waketime includes feeding time, even for a newborn. Yes, the time awake is so short, but it is what they need. Pretty soon baby will be staying up long hours and playing with you. It just gets more and more fun.
Related Waketime Length Posts:
Reader Waketime Length Questions:
- gormanhq said…
My second baby is 4 weeks old and we just started to really try to implement BW yesterday. Although I implemented many of the aspects of BW with my first (now age 3), this time around I thought I would just go with the flow (trusting my instincts–ha ha) and with the holidays, it was too hectic to try implementing the schedule from day one. Mostly all I did was focus on a full feeding and try to get some waketime in. But, our schedule was different each day and varied from 2-3 hours between feedings. Finally, I was fed up and got the book out for a refresher. Yesterday went fairly well as far as starting a schedule, and fortunately this baby goes to sleep on her own without much fussing. However, she has very sleepy times, where it is almost impossible to get her to have any “waketime”. I can usually get her to take a full feeding, but she sometimes just refuses to wake up after. So, she’ll sleep nearly the entire 3 hour cycle, but then she often wants to be up for the entirety of the next 3 hour period (maybe falling asleep only 20 minutes before the next feeding). Then, she’ll be exhausted and want to sleep the next cycle through, starting all over again. Any suggestions on how to break this? How much total waketime should a 4 week old baby be expected to have (ballpark?). Also, though she sleeps very soundly during her daytime naps, she is very restless at night (making it very difficult for me to get any quality sleep). Any suggestions for helping her sleep more soundly at night, or will this just come with time? (for the first 2 weeks she was a bit flip-flopped on her days/nights and seems to still be getting her best sleep during the day).Thanks!
December 29, 2007 1:25 PM
I would say your average 4 week old can do about 45 minutes of waketime. Some may be able to do 1 hour. And not all waketimes are created equal. Some might be longer (evening perhaps) and others shorter (morning). You really do want to keep her awake for waketime so she will be more tired for naptime. I would suggest taking it one waketime at a time like I say in the post, but move faster than one a week. By four weeks you should be close to having waketime for each time period.Newborns do grow out of their extremely noisy sleeping, and mothers vary on how well they can sleep through it. I, myself, am not a sound sleeper, so the noisy baby simply prevents me from sleeping. I use earplugs and can still hear the baby when she cries, but not so much the groans and such.
December 30, 2007 2:17 PM
- sarah said…
Okay, we got the bedtime thing down. Thanks for your advice! We were right there, I just needed the right opinion of a BW mom to help me out! My baby boy (4 mths) has slept from 8-8 two nights in a row! He wakes up a few times during the night but falls back asleep in about 5 minutes so hopefully that will eventually disappear.Now onto naps which I never really thought about even after BW because I concentrated on the feedings so much (1st timer :)). He was napping 1.5 hours after feedings consistently but only sleeping for 45min.-1hour and would only do that twice a day. He was then eating every 2.5-3 hours because of the short naps. I started reading again about sleeping and realized his naps should be longer and he should have 3 naps that last 1.5-2.5 hours. The CIO worked a couple of times after he awoke 45 minutes in, but not consistently. So if I do the math correctly and drop back to 1 hr. 15 min. after feedings to see if he will take those longer naps, and try for a third one, does that mean that he will only be up about 6 hours each day? Is that right and normal? Just seeing if that is correct because I really want my little boy to be happy and well rested and right now, our evenings are NOT that at all! He begins to get really fussy around 6 p.m. and stays that way until we start his bedtime routine. Please share some more advice. Thank you so much. I really have learned a lot from your site.
January 30, 2008 9:04 PM
Congrats on the nighttime sleep! That was a fast turnaround.The exact amount of sleep and waketime for each baby will vary based on individual needs, so you will have to see what is best for him. My first slept on the low end of average for babies, and my second sleeps on the high end. If your is a high end, that sounds about right. I would recommend seeing Easy Nap Fix and then looking at troubleshooting naps, which is linked off of the Easy Nap Fix. Those two posts can give you ideas for fixing nap problems. Good luck!
January 31, 2008 8:45 AM
Troubleshooting naps isn’t referenced in Easy Nap Fix, it is the other way around Troubleshooting Naps
January 31, 2008 8:47 AM