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Getting the perfect timing with your baby’s wake time is essential. Too short, and you will have a very difficult time getting them down for naps. Too long, and you will have a very difficult time getting them down for naps. That’s right, the issues of being undertired versus overtired are very similar and often the same! They can be mistaken for one another quite easily.

When your wake time is too short

– baby might stay awake in the crib playing
– baby might stay awake in the crib fussing and crying
– baby might wake early from a nap
– baby might wake early in the morning or be up at night

When your wake time is too long

– baby will usually be very fussy and showing signs of being overtired (yawning, rubbing eyes, crying, perhaps seeming bored)
– baby might stay awake in the crib fussing and crying
– baby might wake early from a nap (they can have a hard time transitioning sleep cycles if they are overtired)
– baby might wake early in the morning or be up at night (it is very hard for an overtired baby to fall asleep and stay asleep)

Watch for cues when you are first setting up a schedule

I have listed average wake times on my baby schedules page. Just go into the specific age and they are listed at the top of each page. This is a good starting point when you set up a schedule, however, not all babies are the same. The times I have listed are average times that worked for us. If you noticed your baby getting tired before the official “nap time”, note the time and put them to sleep. Don’t try and push them to stay awake longer, because an overtired baby does not go to sleep easily. Watch them for a few days, and adjust your wake time and cycle if you need to.

You want to notice your baby is tired, before it becomes a problem in their minds. Here are some cues to look for:

– rubbing of eyes

– yawning

– seeming bored and fussy

– rubbing face into you or a stuffed animal

– heavy eye lids

-other (you might notice a special cue for your baby)

Once you have a good wake time in place, you can make your schedule and you won’t have to watch out for these cues so closely because the schedule will naturally be putting baby to sleep when they should be going to sleep.

After a few weeks at your current schedule, you might notice that the schedule isn’t quite fitting anymore. Your baby’s wake time needs to increase as they get older, so you’ll want to watch for signs that it is time for a schedule change.

Signs that it might be time to increase your wake time:

  • Naps seem to be getting shorter
  • It is taking longer for your baby to go down for a nap
  • Your baby is waking earlier in the morning
  • Your baby is waking more at night

Sometimes, you might notice some of the above happening, but when you try to increase the wake time, it simply doesn’t work and you can tell that your baby is not quite ready for longer wake times.

Two things could be happening:

  1. They are right on the verge of needing increased wake time and are sort of in between schedules. This is ok and it is bound to happen. Try increasing by 5/10 min instead of making huge leaps.
  2. The shorter wake time is appropriate, but they need more stimulation during the wake time. Are they waking early from naps and practicing rolling or sitting? Babies are eager to learn and practice their new skills. Give them a chance to do so before their nap and it should help correct the issue .

As new skills are learned, babies need to be provided ways to practice and like to be challenged!

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