The Key to “Sleeping like a Baby” May Just be the amount of time we are Awake. by: Alexandra Klenovich


The Key to “Sleeping like a Baby” May Just be the amount of time we are Awake. 


We have all heard the phrase, “sleeping like a baby!” Clearly that phrase was not created by a parent, because a baby’s sleep can be anything but peaceful. In fact, your child’s sleep can be a major stressor on you and your family. In today’s world, the topic of sleep training, or just your child’s sleep in general can be very controversial. There is so much information out there to support or dismay many different methods. But, the bottom line of it all is that sleep is personal and so is parenting. You have to make a choice that is best for you and your family. 


Before I had my first kiddo, I thought that babies just sort of fell asleep when they were tired and the amount of time they were awake didn’t really matter. I thought that the key to good sleep at night, was successful naps during the day.  Woof, I was so wrong! Once I learned about awake windows and found my baby’s sweet spot for nap times, our days and nights became so much easier. 


Figuring out the right awake times for your baby can be overwhelming, but it does have to be and I am here to help. As The Mama Coach, I am Registered Nurse and sleep coach that provides evidence based advice and judgment-free encouragement to support families. I bet you didn’t know that there is a whole science to sleep. Part of this science is Awake Times.


You may be asking ‘what is awake times anyway?’ Awake Time simply refers to the amount of time your baby is awake during the day in between sleeps. For Example, if your kiddo wakes at 6 am then takes their first nap at 9 am, the awake time would be 3 hours. Hence the amount of time “awake.” While every kiddo is different, here is a chart of recommended awake times based on baby’s age:




It should be noted that if your kiddo is on the younger side of the age group, they will likely be in the lower end of the awake time range. The goal of targeting particular awake times is to avoid your kiddo from being overtired or under tired.  This way they will fall asleep easily for naps and bedtime and sleep for long, restful periods. 


An overtired kiddo results from them being awake longer than their little bodies can handle. If we’ve missed their sweet spot, a baby can start to produce cortisol, a hormone secreted in response to stress. This is actually a biological defense mechanism. The cortisol is telling them to stay awake to remain prepared to “fight or flight” in a dangerous situation. We want to do our very best to prevent them from releasing cortisol because that will then cause them to fight sleep and wake up more frequently. Instead we want to put baby down before they enter this state, so they will fall asleep easily and stay asleep for both naps and bedtime.   


An under tired kiddo is when we aren’t giving baby enough time to build up a sleep drive before a nap or bedtime.  You will likely see them roll around, babble, or play in the crib instead of napping. Or, your kiddo may likely fall asleep really quickly but have a short nap or frequent night wakings and early mornings. If this is happening, you would want to extend the awake time. 

Now that you understand the science to awake times, you can practice the advice and find your child’s “sweet spot.” The goal of finding the “sweet spot” is finding the time frame or awake time that isn’t too early to produce an under tired kiddo or too late that your little one is overtired. Once you find that “sweet spot”  it can help you format a sleep schedule. 


If you are looking for a little more guidance to help you make sense of your baby’s ever-changing wake windows, I have an incredible resource for you!  You can receive the free Mama Coach Awake Times eBook! It has target wake windows broken down by age and time of day. It also includes multiple sample schedules for each age. to help provide some guidance or a starting place for you. Commonly,  it just takes a few schedule tweaks to see an improvement. Here is the link if you wish to have and Awake Times eBook, 


Your baby will be snoozing soundly in no time. 


You Got this!! Happy Sleeping! 



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