Newborn Wake Windows

What Are Newborn Wake Windows?

Written by: Gabriela Alvarado



Time to read 9 min

Managing your newborn’s sleep and awake time can be a daunting task, especially for new parents. However, knowing how long your baby should be awake makes it much easier to keep your baby on a healthy sleep schedule that supports their development.

Keep reading to learn more about newborn wake windows and how to manage them!

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What Are Newborn Wake Windows?

Newborn wake windows are the amount of time your little one is awake between naps. Awake periods include everything that happens while your baby is out of their crib , which can be feeding, spending time outside, playing with toys, singing songs, reading books, and even their naptime and bedtime routine. Understanding and managing these wake windows is crucial for your baby’s sleep health and overall well-being.

Why Are Wake Windows Important?

Wake windows are essential because they help ensure that your baby gets the right amount of sleep and is neither overtired nor undertired . A long wake period may cause your baby to become overtired and have difficulty falling asleep. On the other hand, if the awake time is too short, your baby may not be ready for sleep when night comes. By getting the right amount of sleep, you’ll prepare your baby to fall asleep more easily and stay asleep longer.

One of the best ways to manage your baby’s wake window is to create a consistent routine that includes a balance of stimulating and calming activities. For example, after a feeding session, you might spend some time reading a book or singing a song, followed by quiet playtime with toys.

As the end of the wake window approaches, you can start their sleep routine, which could include dimming the lights, a gentle massage, or a lullaby to signal that it’s time for their next nap or sleep period.

To support your baby’s sleep needs, look into the Nurture& Crib Collection. Our cribs are designed with your baby’s comfort and safety in mind, providing a cozy and secure environment for a good night’s sleep or a short nap. 

Nurture& Cribs feature adjustable mattress heights and non-toxic materials, ensuring your baby sleeps soundly and safely during every sleep cycle.

How Long Are Newborn Wake Windows?

Knowing the appropriate duration of wake windows for newborns is crucial for creating a sleep schedule that will ensure your baby gets the rest they need to grow and develop properly. According to experts, these are the recommended age-appropriate wake window durations between your baby’s naps:

It’s important to make sure that your baby isn’t awake for longer stretches than recommended because an overtired baby produces an excessive amount of cortisol, the alertness hormone, which can make it harder for them to fall asleep again.

To manage your baby’s sleep schedule, it’s important to know that newborns usually need between 14 and 17 hours of sleep a day. Newborn sleep patterns vary widely, with sleep periods of two to three hours, although some may sleep up to four hours at a time. 

During your baby’s first year, they’ll wake up frequently for food because of their small stomach, or because they need a diaper change. They may go back to sleep immediately after feeding, or stay awake for a short period of time.

Some get tired after being awake for one or one and a half hours, while others often remain awake for longer. Newborns sleep both during the day and at night, as their brains don’t control the day-night sleep cycles or circadian rhythms, yet. 

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How Many Wake Windows Should a Newborn Have?

Most newborns will have six to eightwake windows in a 24-hour period. It’s important to know this to try to plan a nap schedule, paying special attention to the first nap and the last nap of the day.

Newborn Wake Windows

Managing Newborn Wake Windows

To help manage wake windows effectively and ensure that your newborn doesn’t become overtired or overstimulated, follow these tips:

  • Watch for sleep cuesYou need to learn your baby’s cues for when they are getting tired, such as yawning, rubbing their eyes, or becoming fussy. These sleepy cues can help you determine when it’s time to nap, avoiding overtiredness.

  • Create a calm environment: As your baby’s wake window comes to an end, try to progressively take out all stimulating elements. Dim the lights, lower noise levels, and engage in quieter activities like gentle rocking or reading.

  • Establish a routine: Consistent routines can help your baby understand what to expect. Having a simple routine like feeding, a bit of playtime, and then a quiet period before sleeptime is a great way to sleep-train your baby.

  • Monitor awake timesKeep track of how long your baby has been awake. If they start to show signs of fatigue before the end of the wake window, it’s okay to put them down for a nap earlier.

  • Have a flexible approach: Every baby is unique, some might be ready for sleep after being awake for just 45 minutes, while others manage to get closer to 60 minutes. It’s important to not put sleep pressure on your baby to get them to sleep before or after they are ready to do so.

Wake Windows by Age

For your baby to develop good sleep habits, it’s ideal to know what wake windows and activities you should consider according to your baby’s age. These are some guidelines you can follow to ensure your baby has a healthy sleep schedule:

What to Do during Baby Wake Windows

During wake windows, engaging your baby in the right activities can help promote their development and ensure they’re ready for restful and safe sleep when nap time arrives. Some activities you can do with your baby during wake windows are:


Babies should be fed every two to 3.5 hours during the day, depending on your little one’s hunger cues. Try to minimize distractions to encourage full feedings. A well-fed baby is more likely to be content and ready for sleep when the time comes.

Breathe Some Fresh Air

Exposure to natural light, especially in the late morning and early afternoon, helps babies sleep better at night. Sunlight increases vitamin D, which helps regulate the baby’s circadian rhythm by producing the melatonin that aids nighttime sleep.

Floor Time

Physical activity is important for your baby’s brain and body development. It’s also good for expending all that extra energy babies usually have. You can place toys in a way that encourages movement so your little one has a good reason to crawl or roll around. This helps build their muscles and coordination.

Face-to-face Interaction

Face-to-face time with your baby stimulates their mind and encourages language development. It also fosters a secure attachment between parent and child, making nights and naps much easier. Simple activities like talking, singing, and making facial expressions can be very engaging.

Play a Lot

Free play accelerates children’s brain development as they interact with objects in their way, encouraging them to think, make decisions, and solve problems. All this mental stimulation can help them sleep better.

As your baby grows, adjusting these activities to every development stage will help maintain a balance that will make for a happier and well-rested baby.

When Do Newborn Wake Windows Get Longer?

During these early months, your baby’s sleep is likely to be very unpredictable, and that’s okay. Newborns usually have periods of wakefulness ranging from 45 minutes (during their first few weeks of life) to two hours (usually when they approach three months of age).

As your baby grows, their wake window will naturally get longer. You can help stretch a baby’s wake window incrementally by slowly keeping them awake for 10-15 minutes longer at a time. 

It’s essential for caregivers to pay attention to their baby’s sleep cues to properly balance their sleep and wake time. Signs of tiredness, such as yawning, rubbing their eyes, or fussiness should guide sleep schedules alongside the recommended wake window for the child’s age.

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How Do I Find the Right Wake Windows for My Baby?

Finding the right wake window for your baby will help you balance their schedule in a way that makes it easier for them to nap and sleep at night. These are some strategies that you can use to determine the best wake window for your little one:

Check the Clock

Once your baby is awake, set a timer according to the recommended wake window for their age, so you know when to start getting your baby ready to go back to sleep.

Sleepytime Signs

As the end of the wake window approaches, look for signs that your baby is getting sleepy. Common signs include rubbing eyes, fussiness, yawning, and losing interest in toys and activities. These cues indicate that it’s time to start winding down and preparing for a nap.

Keep a Sleep Journal

Keeping a record of your baby’s sleep pattern can be very helpful. Write down when the first signs of sleepiness appear and then put your baby to bed about five minutes earlier for the next nap. The goal is to put your baby to bed before signs of tiredness appear, preventing overtiredness and helping them settle more easily.

For example, if you have a four-month-old baby who just woke up from their morning nap at 9:00 AM, you can start to time their wake window from that moment. Knowing that a four-month-old typically has a wake window of 75 to 120 minutes, you can expect them to be ready for their next nap between 10:15 AM and 11:00 AM.

By observing their sleep cues and keeping track of their schedule, you can adjust as needed to ensure they get the optimal amount of awake and sleep time.

To make the most out of your baby’s wake windows, consider creating a play station where your baby can engage in stimulating activities. The Nurture& Play collection allows you to create a space where your baby can play safely and comfortably.

Newborn wake windows


Is It Okay if a Newborn Sleeps All Day?

Yes, it’s perfectly normal for a newborn to sleep a lot during the first few weeks of life. Their sleep will often be in short, random bursts rather than longer stretches. Some babies might only sleep for a total of 10 hours a day, whereas others might sleep up to 20 hours a day. This wide range is normal as each baby has different sleep needs and patterns.

What Are Signs a Baby Is Tired?

Recognizing your baby’s sleep cues is crucial for ensuring they go to bed at an ideal time, helping them avoid overtiredness. Here are some common signs that your baby may be tired:

  • Rubbing their eyes.

  • Looking away or avoiding eye contact.

  • Blinking or having trouble focusing.

  • Losing interest in their toys or activities.

  • Yawning.

  • Fussiness or irritability.

By noticing these signs, you can better time their naps and bedtime, making it easier for them to fall and stay asleep.

Do Wake Windows Include Feeding?

Yes, wake windows do include feeding times. It can be particularly challenging to keep newborns awake while feeding them. However, it’s important to time how long it takes to feed them and include that into their wake window. 

If your baby falls asleep while feeding, which is very common, you might need to add a few more minutes to their wake window to make sure they’re properly awake before their next nap.

To make feeding time more comfortable and enjoyable for both you and your baby, look into getting a Nurture& Glider! These gliders provide a cozy and supportive environment for feeding, nursing, and cuddling your baby, making it a more pleasant experience.

To get the best rest for your baby, you need the best chair. If you’re looking for quality and comfort, check out our seating collection. For more tips on pregnancy and babies, you can explore our Journal.

L. Elizabeth Forry

Medically reviewed: Gabriela Alvarado

Medical surgeon with certifications from Imperial College London and Johns Hopkins University. Committed to medical excellence, she has conducted several academic research projects that have contributed to the advancement of the field.

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