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Knowing your Child’s “Sleep Window” by Leslie Black (A Kiss Goodnight) Knowing your Child’s “Sleep Window” by Leslie Black (A Kiss Goodnight)
Knowing your Child’s “Sleep Window” Often when I ask parents about their child’s sleep window, they have no idea what I’m talking about! Without... Knowing your Child’s “Sleep Window” by Leslie Black (A Kiss Goodnight)

Knowing your Child’s “Sleep Window”

Often when I ask parents about their child’s sleep window, they have no idea what I’m talking about! Without knowing your child’s sleep window, it can be a real challenge to get them to sleep.  A sleep window is the time that your child naturally wants to sleep. If you can get your little one into their crib or bed during this window, it will make it much easier for them to fall asleep.  In terms of sleep, this magic time will become your best friend, as it is the ideal time for your baby to fall asleep.  The first step in discovering your child’s sleep window is determining the average level of awake-time your child can handle according to age. Here is a list of approximate times by age:

  • 0-3 Months: approx. 45 min
  • 3-6 Months: 1-2 hours
  • 6-14 Months: 3-3.5 hours
  • 15 Months-3 Years: 5 hours

Now that you have the average amount of time children can stay awake, you need to determine the specific amount of time your baby can handle. The next step in figuring it out is to look for sleep cues, which are signs that your baby is getting tired.  The most common cues are:

  • Yawning
  • Pulling at ears
  • Rubbing eyes
  • Arching back
  • Red-rimmed eyes

Your baby’s cues may be different than this list, but the key here is to look for these signs so that you can get your baby into his or her crib when you see them.  If you see crankiness or fussiness, you likely have missed the window and have a baby that is overtired. Don’t wait to see these behaviors as you will be fighting an uphill battle. Keep in mind, real sleep cues can be subtle and often parents think their baby is not tired enough yet and try keeping them up longer. It is better to get your baby into the crib at the first sign of sleepiness than to wait for more cues.

Finding your baby’s window can be a bit of a process as you learn the cues. It can be helpful to spend a few days making notes on how long your baby is awake, what cues you see and how well he or she falls asleep for naps. You’ll know when you’ve found the ideal sleep window when putting your baby down is easy. If you can complete your bed or naptime routine and place your baby in the crib with no crying and he or she falls asleep easily within 10 minutes, you have found the correct window.  However, because babies develop so quickly, the window can change on you just after you’ve found the correct one!

If you find that your baby was doing well with naps and bedtime, but things have changed, you may need to look at adjusting the window (as long as the change is not due to illness, travel or teething).  If your baby has started crying during naptime, lies in the crib without falling asleep or at least one nap starts getting shorter, it is time to make an adjustment. To do this, you can check out the awake-time chart to see how much more time your baby can handle and then start adding about 15-minutes of awake time every 3 days until you’ve reached the desired amount of time for your baby.  This may also mean changing bedtime to an earlier schedule to fall in line with your baby’s new sleep window. Keep in mind, all transition periods take time, so keep at it and you will find that ideal amount of time. Once you do,  you will all be sleeping well.

 Like this post? Read Leslie’s previous posts here.  What would you like to hear Leslie speak on next?  Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

**Have some sleep questions you need answers to?**

Leslie is offering a special discount to North Shore Mama fans of 20% off of a full consultation and 10% off of a newborn consultation. Let Leslie know that North Shore Mama (that’s me :) ) sent you and enjoy the gift of sleep!

To connect with Leslie, you can find her on Facebook and on Twitter. Make sure you also check out her website to sign up for your FREE “Five Steps To Getting Your Baby To Sleep Through The Night” report!

Leslie Black

Leslie Black is a Registered Clinical Counsellor with a Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology. She has lived in North Vancouver since age 7 and continues to reside there with her husband Jason and two young children William and Charles, along with their energetic companion Sully the Baoxer. Leslie has been a family counselor for 6 years, specializing in parenting. After successfully using the Sleep Sense Program to teach her boys how to be great sleepers, and working with countless tired parents who wondered how to get their children to sleep, Leslie decided to become a certified Sleep Sense Consultant. Website / Like Us On Facebook / Follow Us On Twitter

  • Betty S

    October 15, 2017 #1 Author

    Thank you for the explanation. we are so wishing our little one would sleep past 5 am she has no problem going to bed, but the early rise is tough on us


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