How many hours can my baby be awake?


In my younger days, I was not a napper. In fact, hated them. I would go down for a nap, be awoken, and feel miserable all day. I never understood why my friends in university would run back to their dorms to get in 30 minutes. Ugh. No thanks.

Enter children.

I LOVE NAPS. I LOVE NAPS SO MUCH. I cherish every.single.moment I can nap. Naps.Naps.Naps. I’m sure you feel the same? And I assume its why you’re here right now. Is it because your little glorious bundle isn’t napping? Maybe you’re experiencing the dreaded cat nap or ‘crap nap’ as we like to call them at our house.

When I’m working with clients who are teaching their children to sleep, the night sleep is what always comes first–and we have biology to thank for that. The night is dark, we have a dip in our circadian rhythm and everything seems to just happen nicely.

During the day, however, is a different story. Babies and children know when its light outside, that there is activity happening and if things aren’t perfect the nap doesn’t happen.

The number one culprit of bad naps is being over-tired or not tired enough.

When I’m troubleshooting naps with my clients, a lot of times we’re working out the perfect wake-windows and this takes a bit of time. But here’s a handy tool for you to use when trying to find your child’s perfect time to go down for a nap. The beautiful time where they’re tired (we’ve built up enough sleep pressure to help them fall and stay asleep) but not over-stimulated (baby/child is taking in A LOT of new information every moment. The longer they stay up, the more information they take in, and the more overstimulated/ wired they become).


What does a GREAT sleepy cue look like:

  • Calm and lucid behaviour
  • Glossy eyes a ‘far away’ stare
  • Happy but slower moving
  • Begins to suck thumb
  • Plays with hair, ear, belly etc.
  • Sometimes yawning (but this may be too late)

Signs we’ve waited too long:

  • Cranky
  • Yawning
  • Irritable
  • Crying
  • Suddenly VERY happy, energetic and playful (this is usually followed by a MELTDOWN)
  • People often mistake the above for ‘tired cues’ if your baby is showing these signs? They’re overtired.

Signs we haven’t waited long enough:

  • Extra protest during naps
  • Taking 20 minutes+ to fall asleep
  • Very short naps of 20-30 minutes
  • it’s very rare that you’ve put baby down too early but this is usually the problem when baby is ready to transition from 3-2 naps, 2-1 and so on. So play with the wake windows a bit more

I hope this helps you start the beautiful trial and error of nap testing. May the force be with you, and may Ryan Gosling actually come to your house to give you a nap. xx- Amanda

Tried all of the above and still having troubles? Then there’s likely something else going on–call me for a free 15 minutes consultation and see what working together looks like!

Whether you’re at the beginning stages of sleep training with your baby or you just want to improve your mental health as a parent, the sleep consultants at Baby’s Best Sleep are here to help.

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