Awake windows or routine?
Awake windows Vs. Routine
Following awake windows, or a set day-to-day routine can help ensure your little one doesn’t approach the overtired zone and keeps them on track to sleep the optimal duration for each nap or overnight sleep.
Awake windows can be great if you require more flexibility, meanwhile routines are great for a more structured day.
If you find yourself:
- Parenting multiple children or parenting a small baby (12 weeks and under)?
- Managing several commitments outside of the home (e.g. classes, child care)?
Then following awake windows may be best suitable for you and your family!
Awake windows are a specified amount of time a baby can stay awake for before needing to be back in bed.
By the time the awake window duration has ended, your wind down routine should be finished and your little one should be in their bed either settling to sleep or asleep.
Awake windows are important to follow to ensure your little one is not overtired or under tired before bed.
For newborns awake windows are usually short, sometimes around 45 minutes!
As babies grow and develop, so does their time awake.
At 3 months awake windows are around 1 hour 30 minutes, by 6 months it’s stretched to 2 hours 30 minutes and by 12 months can last around 4 hours before bed for the night!
They can extend quickly but if you prepare by adjusting them a few minutes each week they can be easy to stay on top of!
Awake windows wont extend as quickly if your baby is only taking cat naps, but the flip side of that, is if you are wanting to help your baby stop cat napping, they probably need their awake window extended!
A common mistake parents make, is becoming complacent when an awake window appears to "work"and baby naps well, and is settled. If they're under 6 months old, chances are this will continue to increase.
Be ready for the change!
If you find yourself:
- Needing more structure?
- Working from home?
- Wanting to teach self settling?
Then following a routine-based schedule may be best suitable for you and your family!
Routines can provide consistency for both a child and adult.
When there is a need to ensure designated sleep times during the day as more families are working from home and relying on nap time to get work done, (or even just getting a break!), having a routine can help to provide that consistency and predictability desired.
If your baby is not sleeping well just following awake times and sleep cues, you might find that having more structure works better for them.
All cues, sleep cues, pain cues, hunger cues are easier to understand within context, and a consistent nap routine gives you a lot of context to evaluate cues within.
What do I mean by this? If your baby is crying and their feed is due in 5 minutes... they're likley hungry, you can go ahead and feed them. But if you had no idea when you last fed, or if their last nap was long enough, you might be left wondering if they are in fact tired, or hungry or in pain...
When we follow the same pattern each day, we start to work with their circadian rhythm. This leads to content babies who know what is coming without having to cry for a nap. Things get easier and easier with time and consistency.
Some people feel that routine based families are constantly watching the clock, but you can be as flexible or as fluid with your routine as you like.
I recommend sticking to the end of nap times if you want to maintain day to day consistency.
As your baby gets used to their routine and you become an expert at putting them to bed, you will start to understand how flexibile you can be with timing, and how much change your baby can tolerate.
If you find yourself needing sleep help for your little one, know there is a solution for you!
After considering which style you prefer for your day-to-day, begin to follow awake windows or a routine, or get a consultation to have a personalized plan created for your family’s needs.
Emma is the owner and founder of Baby Sleep Consultant, she is a certified infant and child sleep consultant, Happiest Baby on the block educator, has a Bachelor of Science, and Diploma in Education. Emma is a mother to 3 children, and loves writing when she isn't working with tired clients and cheering on her team helping thousands of mums just like you.
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