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Daytime Awake Periods – How Long is Too Long?

Written by Sandy Garden. Posted in Blog

Daytime Awake Periods for Infants and Toddlers

It’s an incredible thing when you think about it... A newborn baby is only able to take in about 45 minutes of the world at a time, and only a short 12 months later, they have developed enough to manage to stay awake and process all that is going on around them for about 3 hours at a time. So much is happening in those first months!

cranky baby

All babies have an age appropriate awake time during the day. This is the time that they are able to cope with the world around them, interact socially, and learn through play and observation.  There comes a point, though, where they need to reset, rest, and have a break from the world around them. As a baby reaches the end of their awake time, they will become drowsy and signal that they are ready for sleep. 

Babies have different tired cues at different ages:

-Very young babies may start to look away and no longer engage in eye contact, start to suck on fists, or to arch their body away.  They may also show some physiological/autonomic signs like sneezing, yawning, and hiccupping.

-Toddlers may show increased clinginess, irritability, refusal to cooperate, biting, or pushing.

At any age, it’s apparent that the child’s ability to cope with the demands of the world around them is decreased and they need a break.  Getting your child to sleep before they cross into their over tired zone is important and will help them to get off to sleep easily.

overtired baby

Table of ages and awake times to help guide you in putting your child down for naps before they become overtired and have difficulty settling

Age

Amount of time awake between waking and next sleep

0-6 weeks

45 minutes

6-16 weeks

45 – 80 minutes

4-7 months

90 – 150 minutes

7-12 months

2 – 3 hours

1-2 years

3.25 – 4.5 hours

2-3 years

4.5 – 5 hours

3-5 years

5 – 7 hours