April 05, 2024

Increasing Wake Windows

Increasing Wake Windows

As parents, deciphering our baby's sleep cues can sometimes feel like navigating a complex puzzle. One critical piece of the puzzle is understanding when it's time to increase wake windows.

In this blog, we'll explore the signs of indicating that your baby is ready for longer periods of wakefulness between naps.



Before diving into signs that it's time to extend wake windows, let's clarify what wake windows are. Wake windows refer to the duration of time your baby can comfortably stay awake between sleep periods. These windows vary depending on your baby's age and stage of development.

Hot topic: Wake windows are not scientifically proven! True, but they are incredibly useful as a guide. Similar to how you would approach developmental milestones; a timeline is really useful as a rough guide but always allow for a little flexibility because your baby is not a robot.



Observing Sleep Cues: One of the most effective ways to gauge whether it's time to increase wake windows is by observing your baby's sleep cues. Look for signs of tiredness, such as rubbing eyes, yawning, or becoming fussy. You may notice that these sleep cues start appearing a little bit later, even by 5 minutes or so.  

Consolidated naps: As babies grow and develop, they typically transform from multiple short naps to fewer, longer naps throughout the day. If you notice that your baby is consistently taking longer, more consolidated naps this is usually a good sign that they're ready for extended wake windows between naps.

Extended Night Sleep: Another indication that it's time to increase wake windows is if your baby starts sleeping longer stretches at night. Longer nighttime sleep often correlates with increased readiness for longer wake periods during the day (This usually for younger babies when they start consolidating their sleep).

Disrupted Night Sleep: If you see an increase in night wakes or even split nights, a likely cause is that their sleep pressure is too low. This simply means they need longer wakes windows during the day, in order to help build a higher sleep debt for nighttime. 

Nap and Bedtime Battles: If your little one used to settle quite easily but has now started refusing naps or has become difficult to settle, it could be that they're ready for more sleep pressure/a longer wake window.

Engagement and Alertness: Pay attention to your baby's behaviour during wake times. If they're more alert, engaged, and interested in their surroundings for extended periods, it suggests that they have the stamina for longer wake windows.



You would expect to see a couple of the above signs consistently for a few days before wanting to make a change to wake windows.

Wake windows very rarely work that on the exact day little Tommy turns 4 months, he needs an extra 15 minutes added to his wake window. Instead, look at slowly adding 5 minutes here or there when Tommy seems ready for it and slowly working your way up to the extra 15 minutes over a couple of days or weeks, for example.

Wake windows can be a little bit of guesswork; if you find that your little one didn't respond well to a longer wake window, that's no stress, just reduce it back. 

By tuning into your baby's sleep cues and observing their behaviour and sleep patterns, you can determine when it's time to increase wake windows. Remember that every baby is unique, so trust your instincts and adjust wake windows gradually to support your baby's evolving sleep needs.

If you feel like you need support in this area we can certainly help, we're wake window wizards.