Watch the Waking Hours
During my time as a sleep professional, I’ve become accustomed to people asking me what the “secret” is to getting a baby to sleep through the night. Of course, there is no ONE secret. Teaching a child healthy sleep habits is a combination of many different things. But that does not mean there are not some shortcuts, either!
One of the biggest enemies of sleep, especially for babies and toddlers, is overtiredness. Many parents are surprised to learn just how soon their children get overtired. The more a child sleeps, the more sleep they want. I know…you would think it is the opposite but really it’s not, believe me! Parents often think, if I put my child to sleep at a later bedtime, they will wake up later in the morning…NOT TRUE. An earlier bedtime leads to later morning wakeups! Here’s a quick guide to how long your child should be awake between naps during the day:
Newborn (0-12 weeks): 45 minutes of awake time
3-5 months: 1.5-2 hours of awake time
6-8 months: 2-3 hours of awake time
9-12 months: 3-4 hours of awake time
13 months to 2.5 years: 5-6 hours of awake time
If you make sure that your child is put down for naps BEFORE they get overtired, you’ll find that they fall asleep more easily at naptime AND they are more relaxed at bedtime.