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Awake Times & Tired Cues - Don't Miss the Boat!

Updated: Mar 26, 2021

Understanding your babies awake times and learning to read their tired cues will result in a more settled baby, and parent!

Awake times are just a guide, not the gospel! Each baby is different but identifying their awake window will help you to look for tired signs and be responsive to them before baby becomes overtired and unsettled. It’s not about clock watching, but it is about knowing how much sleep they need and how often your little one needs to be tucked up and back snoozing in bed.

The awake time period is from the moment baby wakes through to the moment they nod off again. It includes feeding, changing, playing and winding down for the next nap or bedtime. Here’s the awake windows for newborns through to 3 years old:

0-3 weeks: 45min - 1 hour

3-6 weeks: 1 - 1.25 hours

6-9 weeks: 1.25 - 1.5 hours

9-12 weeks: 1.75 hours

12-16 weeks: 1.75-2 hours

4 months: 2 hours

5 months: 2.25 hours

6 months: 2 – 2.5 hours

7-9 months: 2.5 hours & 4 hours between last nap and bedtime

9-12 months: 2.5 hours & 4 - 4.5 hours between last nap and bedtime

15-18 months: 2.5 hours & 5 hours between last nap and bedtime

18-24 months: 2.5 hours & 5.5 hours between last nap and bedtime

2-3 years: 5.5-6 hours awake between day start, nap and bedtime.

"Keeping one eye on their tired signs and the other on the clock will give you the best chance at catching the moment when your little one is signalling that it's time to head to bed".

Some awake windows will be longer depending on the time of day, age of your baby and whether or not they are transitioning between 3-2-1 naps. For example, if your 8 month old has just dropped their last nap (the short nap between 4:30 - 5pm) they will now have a longer awake window between waking from their lunch sleep at 2:30pm and going to bed at 6:30pm. Their awake window between waking and the first nap will likely be 2.5hrs and the time between their first and second nap might be 2.5-3hrs. Follow your child’s tired cues as well as being weary of the time and how long they have been awake for.

Tired signs are the cues that your baby will display when they are communicating to you that they need to wind down, reduce the stimulation and get ready for some sleep. Being able to read your baby’s tired signs is important so that you can be proactive and offer sleep before they get overtired. Common signs are;

  • Closed fists

  • Pulling at their ears or hair

  • Jerky or shaking movements

  • Yawning

  • Clenching hands into a fist

  • Rubbing eyes

  • Vacant look/staring into space

  • Quieter/less chatty

  • Grizzling

  • Sucking thumb/hand

As your child gets older their tired signs might change. Toddlers tend to reach for their comforters, a favourite book or curl up for a cuddle and some quiet time together on the couch.

If you need any additional information or support please feel free to contact me at to book in a FREE 15 minute phone consultation to talk about what is happening for your baby and how we help.

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