How To Measure Your Baby's Awake Windows

How To Measure Your Baby’s Awake Windows


Oct 23, 2019


If you’ve been following me on Instagram for even 10 minutes, you’ve probably heard me use the phrase: “Know your baby’s awake window.” Don’t worry, you’re not the only one wondering what a reference to a window and sleep have to do with each other! Let’s clear the air together today, and by the end, my goal is for you to be confident in understanding what the appropriate awake times/windows are for your baby. And why it’s incredibly important!!

Sleep Pressure

This is a real term in relation to the science of our sleep. Dr. William Dement, founder of the National Sleep Foundation, coined this term to help us understand how children and adults are ready for sleep. When you and I as adults wake up in the morning, our bodies need to be awake for the day in order to sleep at night. When we are awake during the day, think of every hour you’re awake being represented by one brick you place in a backpack you’re wearing. By the end of the day, that’s a pretty heavy pack! Time to unload, and sleep it off. That’s called sleep pressure! You needed a certain amount of pressure to feel the tipping point of needing to go sleep it all off. 

The same is true for your child! Although of course, their load is quite light! Depending on the age of your child, their time awake (or, collecting bricks) is very small. 


Newborns are sleepy, sleepy humans. Their awake time starts whenever they open their eyes! Up until about 12 weeks, the awake window includes the time they open their eyes until their next nap. Newborns don’t need to be “worn out” enough to go take a nap. They simply need to be awake for 45-60 minutes, and their body is ready! This also means they don’t need an hour+ nap for every nap of the day! Some short naps at this age are common, and aren’t considered “junk naps”. However…a whole day of 20-30 minute naps can be very frustrating! Baby does need longer, and I address strategies for extending naps and accommodating these short newborn awake windows in the Newborn Sleep Course.

Babies and Toddlers

At 12 weeks and older, I’m looking at beginning the awake window when you get your child out of the crib. When your child wakes from a night sleep or nap, you won’t start their awake time clock until you get them out of the crib. This is especially important if your child wakes up at 5:30AM and is ready for the day! We’re not getting them up and starting our day this early! (By the way, if your child is constantly waking at 5:30AM, head to these early wakings strategies!) Often times when you count the time awake in the crib, you may be missing out on times where the child is dozing off between 5:30-6:30AM (even for a moment!) and then rewarding them for waking early by putting them to nap sooner! 

What is my baby’s awake window?

Every newborn, baby and toddler has a unique schedule! Honoring this means you can achieve nap success and a more restful night of sleep. If you need help discovering the age-appropriate awake windows and daytime schedule for your child, check out my Free Schedule Generator! You’ll answer a few questions and then see a screen grab to save and use as your child’s naptime guide

Sweet Dreams,
Becca Campbell
Your Pediatric Sleep Consultant



  1. Carolyn says:

    Do wake windows end when baby is placed in the crib or when they fall asleep? Should the 10-15 mins it takes baby to fall asleep be deducted from their wake window?

    • Becca Campbell says:

      Awake windows start when you get them out of the crib (for babies over 4 months). The 10 minutes it takes to fall asleep just falls in that nap time! Example, baby at 8 months needs 2.5 hours awake before Nap 1. Wake at 7AM, in crib for Nap 1 at 9:30AM, falls asleep within 10 minutes.

  2. Amanda says:

    What if the wake window is 1.5 hours and they wake up from nap 3 of 4 and there’s only 3 hours between that had bedtime?

    • Becca Campbell says:

      Hi Amanda! In this case I would do an on-the-go option a bit at the 1.5 hour mark for 15-20 minutes, then do 1.5 hours until bedtime. WIth 4 naps per day we won’t have a set bedtime juuuuust yet!

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