Isn’t it frustrating when you KNOW what your baby’s wake window should be for their age and you time it to the minute, and then you put them down and they either stare at you blankly, or scream! How can you have possibly got the wake window wrong when it was so precise?
Well that’s probably the answer.. it was probably TOO precise. One thing that we remind our clients all the time is that wake windows are guides. They shouldn’t always be followed to the minute, because they are averages… and who is average these days? Chances are, you baby will sit at one end of the average, so you just need to work out which end.
Does your baby work best with a wake window slightly over the average, or a wake window slightly under, or bang on? One way to work this out is to experiment. Say your baby is 8 months old. They have a wake window of 2 ½ hours. If they are starting to get grumpy after 2 hours, try popping them down! See what happens! They might need that shorter wake window.
Similarly, you can experiment on a day to day basis. Say you have had a really busy morning at a play date or a baby class, and your little one is starting to become irritable. Maybe they need a shorter wake window on that day because they have had a stimulating morning.
As long as you don’t try and stretch your baby TOO far (we would say no more than half an hour over their wake window in babies less than a year), then experiment and see where your baby’s sweet spot is.
Also don’t mix things up if they are working. YES, the wake window increases by 15 minutes per month but it doesn’t mean change it up for the sake of it. If you have times that work for your baby’s naps.. keep them up! Only change them when they start resisting bedtime, or resisting naps, or waking up early.
Getting to know your baby’s sleep patterns and how they work best will be the best thing you can do for your baby.