Creating a schedule for your little one can be a frustrating task as a parent. There is information everywhere you look - some of it is accurate while some of it isn't reliable. I hope with this blog post, that I am able to ease a few parents stress, and help you perfect your schedules.
What is "wake time?"
This word comes up often when looking into baby/toddler sleep, so it is important that you know what it is and how to properly measure it. Wake time is the amount of time your child is awake between periods of sleep.
Example: If your child wakes at 6:30am and naps at 9:00am, that means their total amount of wake time was 2.5hrs.
Why is wake time important?
Keeping close to the recommended amount of awake time is very important in creating age appropriate sleep schedules and will also help improve naps & nighttime sleep. If you have a 4 month old who is staying up for 3 hours between naps and then having very short naps - it is an indication that baby is overtired.
When a baby is pushed too far past their recommended amount of wake time, the body responds by pushing the hormone responsible for adrenaline which ultimately surprises the melatonin hormone, which is the hormones responsible for sleep. This is why some children can appear to be "hyper" or don't seem tired after missing naps.
Understanding the wake time chart:
Column 1: Age of your little one
Column 2: The maximum amount of wake time for each age. Keep in mind this may vary depending on your child. It is also very normal for the first wake time to be the shortest, and increase as the day goes on.
Column 3: The number of naps your little one should be having based on the age.
Column 4: Maximum amount of sleep during the day. This one is very important to keep in mind. Nighttime sleep is a reflection of daytime sleep. If your child is sleeping too much or too little during the day, it can cause nighttime troubles. Keep in mind, this total number is to be spread across the recommended amount of naps, not one single nap.
Column 5: Average amount of sleep per 24 hours that your child needs based on age. This includes nighttime and nap sleep!
Starting with your child's recommended amount of wake time, number of naps and amount of daytime sleep is a great base for creating a sleep schedule appropriate for each age.
Keep in mind, these are considered to be base schedules. Your baby most likely won't follow these schedules exactly, but it is a good starting point. Make adjustments when needed!
Recommended wake time: 2-2.15hr
Goal of daytime sleep: 3.5-4hrs Number of naps: 3
Recommended wake time: 2.15-2.5hr
Goal of daytime sleep: 3-3.5hrs Number of naps: 3
Recommended wake time: 3-3.5hr
Goal of daytime sleep: 3-3.5hrs Number of naps: 2
Recommended wake time: 3.5-5hr
Goal of daytime sleep: 2-3hrs Number of naps: 2
Recommended wake time: 4.5-7hrs
Goal of daytime sleep: 2-3hrs Number of naps: 1
Tips & tricks for naps:
- No single nap should exceed 2 hours unless on a 1 nap schedule
- If your child is an independent sleeper and struggling with short naps keep this little trick in mind;
30 minutes = overtired
45 minutes = under-tired
-Short naps are very common for babies/children who has sleep prop dependency. This is because they have difficultly with transitioning into the next sleep cycle due to the lack of independent sleeping skills.
-It is important to cap naps to protect the next sleep time. The only exception to this is with sickness.