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How to spot sleep cues and wake windows

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Liza Montanino
Paediatric sleep consultant

We all know that babies need a lot of sleep. But this doesn’t just mean they’ll fall asleep whenever they need it. In fact, it’s really important to give babies the opportunity to sleep. Because if a baby is awake for a longer period of time than is age appropriate, they will get overtired and actually fight sleep, despite how much they need it. Knowing your baby’s wake windows can really help make sure they’re getting the sleep they need.

For the first several weeks of your baby’s life, the amount of time they can and should be awake is between 45 minutes and an hour. Wake windows change and generally increase from month to month, just as your baby’s overall daily sleep needs change too. Until your baby is old enough to have some kind of schedule, it’s important to pay attention to your baby’s wake windows, which you can work out based on when your child starts showing sleep cues.

Sleep cues often include:

  • Yawning
  • Nose rubbing
  • Ear pulling
  • Red eyebrows or eyelids
  • Glassy eyes
  • Turning head away
  • Staring off

If you notice any of these signs and you’re nearing the end of that 45 minutes to an hour, chances are that your baby is ready for a nap. So swaddle up, and put them down!