The last month I’ve been talking mostly about baby wake windows and how fluid they are to the individual and certainly in the first two months of life. There are many variables that determine the length of your baby’s wake windows from age, individual ability, digestion, milk intake, routine and sleep position.
You might think I’d start with age as the number one factor that determines the length of your baby’s awake time? Actually some babies are born into the world able to stay awake for long periods. In my experience it’s the length of sleep overnight which has the greatest impact on daily wake windows. By week three this could be anything between 1-12 hours in one stretch overnight.
I’ve been working with a 5 week old baby for the last three weeks who has an average wake window of two hours twenty minutes for all four feed periods but has slept through the night 11-12 hours from week two. It’s also normal for me to see babies months older than this having less than 1.5 hours waking windows but are waking three to five times a night. Once the night waking is reduced the wake windows increase easily. This show that following a plan or routine needs to be flexible to a baby’s individual needs. I see a-lot of parents who follow the routine tables in my book which are examples only, following the method rather than the tables will give you more flexibility and better long lasting results.
A baby who sleeps soundly and solidly is more likely to have solid long wake windows. For the newborn stage, your baby’s sleep environment and position can determine the length of sleep your newborn has at naps and overnight which then has the knock on affect on the wake windows.
In the first three months of life a newborn has no control over their limbs. The limbs startle with the Moro reflex, startling and kicking when awake and asleep, this kind of movement can easily wake your baby making it difficult for them to get back to sleep. For this reason and the fact a baby will sleep well given a feeling of security much like a cuddle, is why I use a swaddle and tuck in sleep position day and night for the first 3-4 months.
As well as seeing babies with short wake windows, I often see newborns and babies needing support, reducing long wake windows. Babies awake for 3-4 hours, almost wired and unable to settle to sleep result in short naps. Nine times out of ten this is down to snacking and low milk intake at each feed. The heavier the milk feed the longer the feed will sustain which also supports long solid naps. This is also the case with food around the weaning stage. Giving fuller feeds can be complicated when breastfeeding but there are ways to test and increase your milk supply. Grab a copy of my book for breastfeeding support and routine to support quality engaging wake windows and solid sleep.
I am also available as a Baby Sleep Consultant helping you and your baby achieve a full night’s sleep.
If you have any questions please get in touch