What's the big deal about awake windows?!
Updated: Nov 28, 2022
Well, firstly those awake windows are to simply help you to structure your baby's naps during the day and to help to find those suitable timings, giving you some idea of when your baby's naps are due and also when your baby's bedtime is approaching. For some, the idea of an awake window causes more stress, leaving you worrying about sticking to those windows, potentially missing them, or perhaps you think by following these windows, you are restricting yourself and your ability to freely do what you like with your days!
So is this true?
I can safely say, following those awake periods does not mean you will have to stick to those timings religiously. These wake windows are a guide only. They also vary between babies. No two babies are the same and it is also worth remembering that your baby may or may not have higher sleep needs & perhaps their window is less than the average. You could be trying to force an awake window based on what it states your baby should be following, when indeed, your baby's capabilities may be quite different. Use them as a guide, but also observe your baby's tired cues and you will soon come to understand when your baby is due those naps. Make sure you are keeping track of these tired signs, for example, yawning, rubbing eyes, vacant stare, and be mindful you are not pushing them to stay awake longer than they are able to!
What do I do if I miss my baby's awake window?
My first piece of advice would be, do not stress! We don't need to panic if you are running late for a sleep, you miss your baby's window. As soon as you are able to, create a calm space, go to their room or yours, close curtains and do what you can to allow your baby to sleep. Don't worry if you have to stay with them, hold, rock or offer additional support to go off to sleep, as the most important thing at this point, is to get your little one to have a snooze. No snooze at this point may lead to further nap disruption later, and one very exhausted & overtired baby!
THE BOTTOM LINE IS.......
Much like routines, it is your choice. You can simply follow your baby's cues or you can opt for more structure to your day. Often parents come to me needing some guidance on how to get their baby's to nap during the day, most will ask for a schedule, a guide to follow so they can predict what happens next, giving them more of an idea and ability to plan around when baby sleeps 💤
It is quite common to reach a stage when you feel you need to gain some form of control back to your daytime! In this instance, those awake windows are helpful, based on your baby's age, you can begin to have more of an idea of their general nap timings, even if it is a rough idea, you will begin to predict when that next nap is due & you will clearly see your baby showing those tired signs around those wake window timings.
An example based on a baby of 6 months would be......
If your baby is 6 months old, their awake window would be roughly around the 2.5 to 3 hour mark.
From the moment your baby wakes, you can roughly time their next snooze judging by this window.
For example if your baby wakes from their morning snooze around 10am, then you can predict their next nap to be around 1230pm or 1pm depending on their individual capabilities. This does not mean you have to rush upstairs at 1230pm! As mentioned above, keeping an eye on those tired signs allows you to then create a calming down time....change and gently take baby up to settle them down to sleep. Just note that it can be anywhere between these timings, this simply allows you to know sleep time is approaching and if your baby begins to niggle, you will know why!
MY TOP TIP WOULD BE.....
If you are just learning about the idea of awake windows and you are confused on where to start, then I always suggest checking out your window length based on your baby's age, and start with the minimum time to see how your baby copes before then extending by 10 minutes if you need to. Slow and steady works best....
Hope this helps some of you!
Happy Sleeping zzzzz