Besides the joy of holding your newborn in your arms, sleep deprivation is one of the only other things almost guaranteed by parenthood.  Part of the baby sleep equation is knowing exactly how long your baby should be awake for between naps. The answer to this question depends on many different factors, which is why many first-time parents can find it difficult!

Here we answer your most pressing questions, highlight the importance of naps for good sleep at night, and  give a general guide to what your baby’s awake time should look like.

Is there a normal awake time for all babies?

The short answer:

No, since no baby is the same and infants have a wide variety of sleep and wake time patterns. However, there is a window of awake time by age that will suit most babies

The slightly longer answer:

Starting in the womb, babies have their own personalities, temperaments and even physical needs. While every baby needs a whole lot of sleep and a whole lot of milk, what this looks like in practice varies from baby to baby.

“The sleep routine is a precarious balancing act wrapped inside a juggling routine. There are dozens of unpredictable factors that come into play, and each of them has an effect on the other.”

~ Dana Obleman, The Sleep Sense Program

Because sleep time is affected by so many factors, the safest way to determine when your baby is due for a nap is by how long they have been awake.  

Ok, how long should my baby be awake for?

There really is no such thing as a ‘normal’ schedule for newborn babies. Some infants will wake up hungry every couple of hours; others will sleep for four or five hours and have to be woken to feed! As your baby gets older though, they will have bigger gaps between both feeds and sleeps.

Use this guide to awake time for what to expect for your baby as the develop:

Newborns: 45 minutes-1 hour of awake time

3 Months to 5 Months: 1.5-2 hours of awake time

6 Months to 7 Months: 2.5-3 hours of awake time

8 Months to 12 Months: 3-4 hours of awake time

1 Year to when drop daytime nap: 5-6 hours of awake time

Is my baby awake long enough?

When a baby is awake long enough they are more likely to fall asleep easily and have a longer nap. However, they shouldn't be awake too long or you risk the dreaded overtired baby! Tricky huh!! Don’t worry, you will get to know your baby and what their ideal sleep window looks like. If you find that naptime is getting difficult then ask yourself: Are they not tired enough? Or overtired? Use our awake time as a guide but remember to look at the signs your baby is giving you too.

The Importance of Day Naps for Good Night Sleep

We all know the good a nap can do for the soul. Take that thought and quadruple it for your baby.  Without having enough daytime naps, a baby can easily become overtired. For babies, overtiredness looks very different than being tired enough to sleep. They will find it very difficult to not only get to sleep but also to have a restful sleep.