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Many moms wonder what to do about waketime when baby wakes early from sleeping. This is a situation where it pays to know your child well. Here are some factors to consider:
- Age. The older your baby, the more likely baby can just stay awake until close to the normal nap time, if not right until the normal nap time. With young babies, however, babies seem to need X amount of minutes of waketime.
- Time. This would include time of day and also how early baby woke up. Most babies can handle a longer waketime in the evening, so if he woke early from an afternoon or evening nap, you might be able to make it until bedtime or the next nap. If baby woke 15 minutes early from the nap, there is a better chance he will make it to the next nap time than if he woke up an hour early.
- Length. I use this category to point out that if the nap that was woken early from was quite short, he will likely need to go down for the next nap early, and perhaps with a shorter waketime than usual. If he is not as well rested as he usually is, he might not be able to make it the usual length of time.
- Activity. If your baby wakes early but will stay in his bed and play, he can likely handle a longer waketime out of the crib than if he were to get out of his crib right away. If they are in the crib, they are still getting some rest.
All of these factors work together to create the answer to the question “How long should waketime be when he wakes early?” It is up to you to observe these factors (and any others you know to exist for your child) and determine what is the right move. If your child shows you sleepy cues, follow those cues in putting him down, even if it is earlier than that nap would last.
Take note that many times the baby will take a longer than usual nap following a short nap to make up for the lost sleep at the short nap. So, if your child is one who will do catch up, putting him down early is a good idea to maintain your feeding schedule.
Remember that keeping your child up too long will backfire. He will most likely take another short nap if he went down too late.
Kaitlyn has pretty much woken up at consistent times her whole life. When she was a young baby, she went down after she had been up for X number of minutes. As she got older, I would put her down early for the next nap or for bed. She usually then slept extra and woke at the normal wake time. At 12 months, she now basically goes down at the same time her nap usually is if she wakes early. She might go down 10-15 minutes early if she is tired, but most of the time she is just up until nap time.
- John and Amanda said…
Welcome back! I was hoping for your insight on a sleep/nap problem I’ve been having with my son.His previous schedule was:
His naps were always a solid 2 hours with rare exceptions (and usually those exceptions meant a slightly longer nap, not shorter). He is currently 9.5 months old, can crawl, stand, and sit (I tell you this because I know BW mentions the phase where they learn new skills and want to try them out rather than sleep).Lately, he has been waking up at 6am instead of 7am. I know that 11 hours of sleep is still a great night, but I’m not sure if I should just accept this new waketime and roll with it or keep working to get him to go until 7am. I leave him in his crib until as close to 7am as possible before he melts down and cries…the crying will wear him out to where he won’t make it to his next scheduled naptime (9am). This started 3 weeks ago and I’ve tried moving his bedtime earlier and it has not made a bit of difference. And his room is as dark as I can get it with black out curtains.Also, his naps (both morning and afternoon) have been getting shorter. Around 1 to 1.5 hours usually and NO more…ever! As long as he is not becoming overtired (and he isn’t) I try to keep him up till his next schedule nap (or as close as possible). I’ve tried putting him down sooner, too and he still only naps for about 1.5 hours at the most. He seems well rested and ready to get up and makes it to his next nap just fine. There isn’t a lot of info in BW about the transition between one and two naps a day, although I know my son is much too young for only one nap. Do you think he is starting to make that gradual transition? Should I worry about his shorter naps and nighttime sleep and just assume he is getting to where he needs less sleep, or should I do some training of some kind to keep him on the schedule I currently have?Your insight is greatly appreciated!Amanda
April 23, 2008 9:49 PM
John and Amanda said…
I’m guessing from your latest post on waking early, your advice to me would be that if he seems fine with it and is not over tired and makes it to his next nap… just roll with it! 🙂 Like I said, my best guess as to why he suddenly seems to need less sleep (because he is functioning and happy with less sleep) is that he is slowly moving toward one nap a day… I guess I can’t expect him to sleep 12 hours every night and take 2, 2 hour naps every day for the next 2 years!!! 🙂 11 hours at night and 2, one+ hour naps a day is still good! Thanks!
April 24, 2008 6:27 PM
I would stick with your schedule. My guess is it is a phase and not that he is ready to phase out that nap. 14 months is the earliest to drop that nap–so you are a ways off of that. I would continue to plan for a 1-5-2 hour nap and 10-12 hours at night and he should snap back at some point 🙂
April 24, 2008 9:55 PM
John and Amanda said…
Thanks? He will stay in the crib and play most of the time, and I leave him in there as long as I can. I’ll keep doing it. Today he slept till 6:30am, but I think it was because it was rainy this morning and therefore darker… 🙂April 24, 2008 10:44 PM
That sun does make a difference. You might even consider seeing if you can darken his room a bit. My kids are both sun risers.
April 25, 2008 9:42 AM