When you have a newborn, you can’t really wait until you see those sleepy yawns to put them down for their naps. Why? That’s because newborn sleepy cues aren’t consistent or reliable for those first 12 weeks. As your baby takes in their world, it’s easy for their sleepy cues to go unnoticed until it’s too late, and then you have an overtired baby on your hands. Instead of relying solely on sleepy cues, I recommend that you follow the clock.
So, what should your newborn’s wake windows be? Keep reading to find out!
For newborns, no longer than 1 hour of awake time is appropriate. This includes their feeding time, which is usually 30 to 45 minutes. Once they’re finished with their feeding, by the time you do their diaper change, it’s typically time to put them down again.
It’s necessary to have some awake time after feeding your baby to prevent newborn day-night confusion (sleeping all day and being up all night) – newborns need to be woken every three hours. Keep in mind that their feeding time is also included in their awake time, provided that they’re awake and actively feeding.
Exposure to Natural Light
Make sure to expose your newborn to natural light during their awake time. Open up those blinds, and let the sunshine in! Unswaddle, undress, and wake them up, so they can get some awake time in the natural light. You may have to really work to keep them awake during and after their feeding. Remember, at nighttime, your baby won’t have any awake time after their feed; they’ll go right back down after they’re finished. Do your best to make sure that they do get in a full feed, even at night. This will help everyone get the longest stretch of sleep possible after a feed.
What to do When Your Newborn Won’t Stay Awake
There’s going to be times that your newborn will fall asleep during a feeding or immediately afterward, and there’s nothing you can do about it (no matter how much you try to wake them up). In this case, you would simply swaddle them back up, and put them down. This is normal, and sometimes, it just can’t be helped. Mornings are generally when babies tend to be sleepier; as the day goes on, it usually becomes easier to keep them awake. Babies tend to have more wakefulness during the late afternoon and early evening times.
What to do When Your Newborn Shows Sleepy Cues
If your newborn does show sleepy cues, such as fussiness, red eyes, red eyebrows, or glazed eyes, then that’s a sign your baby needs to go to sleep or be put down for a nap (regardless of what the clock says). As your little one gets older, their sleepy signs become more reliable, but don’t ignore the clock completely – you’ll still want to stay on top of those wake windows!
Need more guidance on or help with your newborn’s wake windows and sleep training? Give me a follow on Instagram, where I share baby sleep tips and strategies. You can reach out to me or book a consultation, too!