With the holidays coming up, there’s a good chance you and your little one are going to be running around, visiting friends, attending parties, and possibly having some houseguests for a little while.
With all that activity, there’s a good chance you might find your regular routine a little disrupted, and you may have to make some adjustments to your baby’s nap schedule.
So how can you do that with a minimal impact on your little one’s sleep? The best thing to focus on is what I like to call, “awake windows.”
Simply put, an awake window is how long your baby is awake between sleep sessions, whether those are their nighttime sleep or naps. They’re a great way to keep your baby from becoming overtired when you need to adjust their schedule, and I’ll tell you why and how to do it in this week’s video.Rather read than watch? Click here.
So every child has basically a threshold of time awake that they can tolerate before they start to get overtired. Now, overtiredness is something we really want to avoid when we’re talking about babies because overtiredness is really their worst sleep enemy. What happens when a baby gets overtired is similar to what happens to all of us. We tend to get hyper instead of calming down.
So you’ll notice when a baby’s pushing into overtiredness because they get a little manic. They start being a little bit frantic and they laughing hard one second and crying the next. They want to be held. They don’t wanna be held. It’s almost like they can’t make up their mind. And that’s because they’ve kind of reached their threshold, that they’re kind of finished with all the stimulation that they’re experiencing and they’re trying to send some signals that enough’s enough. And so we wanna catch a baby before they push into that phase because it’s gonna make it all the harder for them to relax enough to fall asleep.
Again, similar to how you would feel if you go to bed extremely overtired, most people find that they feel kinda jittery, sort of wired. It kinda feels like you just drank a pot of coffee and now you’re trying to sleep. And then the sleep that does eventually show up is much more fragmented, with a lot more nighttime wake-ups. And so we want to try to prevent that in our babies as well.
So in the Sleep Sense program, there is a guide in the nap chapter that really outlines specifically how much time awake a baby can handle in relation to their age. Now, every baby is a little bit different so it’s good to tinker around with the timing, maybe try 10 minutes earlier one day, maybe go 15 minutes later the next and just see if you can find the sweet spot that allows your baby to be fatigued enough that they’re gonna take a good nap or go to bed for the night but not too much that they’re pushing into overtiredness.
So just to give you an example of what I mean, if we were talking about an eight-month-old baby, eight-month-old babies can handle roughly three hours of time awake. So that means if they’re up for the day at seven, by 10 they’re going to be showing some signs that they’re ready for their first nap of the day.
Now again, we’re gonna try this for a few days. If it doesn’t work, you can try adding or subtracting a little bit of time on either end. But having been in this business now for 20 years, I can tell you that these averages, they’re usually pretty spot-on. So give that a try and see.
And here’s a little word of caution. Your baby might not look tired at that three-hour mark. And that might be because you’ve been waiting too long for months. You’ve been waiting for that sort of fussiness or that manic franticness to show up before you’ve been trying for a nap. But most babies are fairly calm and seemingly fine. But as soon as we give them some space and opportunity to start falling asleep, they do so and usually take a much better nap or sleep better through the night because of it.
Thanks so much for watching today. Sleep well.
If your baby, infant or toddler is having trouble sleeping through the night, help is just a click away! The Sleep Sense Program has helped over 107,000 parents to get their kids sleeping 11-12 hours through the night AND taking long, restful naps during the day. If you’re ready to get started – I’m looking forward to helping you!
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