As we have talked about before, your baby can become overtired if you keep them awake too long and don't get them enough sleep in a 24-hour period. It is important to watch your baby for any signs of tiredness, and make sure they go to bed before they are just TOO tired, and now just angry at the world. To do this, you should follow the following guidelines as mentioned in this post, and below:
- 1-2 weeks old: 17-19 hours, including 5-6 naps per day
- 3-4 weeks old: 16-18 hours, including 5-6 naps per day
- 5-7 weeks old: 15-18 hours, including 4-5 naps per day
- 8-12 weeks old: 14-17 hours, including 4-5 naps per day
- 13-16 weeks old: 13-17 hours, including 3-4 naps per day
- 17-24 weeks old: 13-16 hours, including 3-4 naps per day
- 25-38 weeks old: 13-15 hours, including 2-3 naps per day
- 39-52 weeks old: 12-15 hours, including 2 naps per day
However, even with those guidelines, I still get asked quite often how long should a baby actually be up BETWEEN naps. So I took some time to write it out for you and give you a little more help. Just remember, these guidelines will vary with your baby as you can see that they each have their own range as well. All babies are different. It is more important to watch your baby for "tired" signs, versus using these guidelines. Here goes!
0-2 weeks old: Newborns are the sleepiest. Sometimes they ONLY stay awake to eat, barely get a diaper change, and then go back to sleep. I would say the maximum amount of time spent awake (between naps) should be about a half hour at this age.
3-7 weeks old: Babies will start to extend their awake time, and probably won't stay up much past 45 minutes between naps.
8-12 weeks old: By this point, your baby is probably sleeping through the night (if not, check your day schedule and adjust accordingly). Because of this, your baby will be able to stay awake longer during his/her wake periods. I would say that on average, a baby can probably stay awake about an hour between naps, give or take a bit on both sides.
13-24 weeks old: Baby continues to stay awake longer and longer between naps. At this point, anywhere from 1-1.5 hours is pretty normal. Because they will get rid of one of their naps, dropping down to 3-4 naps, this wake time can start reaching to two hours and shouldn't be any reason for concern.
25-38 weeks old: At some point in this range, your baby will go from taking three naps (and sometimes a fourth catnap), down to two naps and a catnap. Eventually, he/she will drop his/her catnap and go to two naps only. Until that point, your baby's wake time will change throughout the day, ranging between 1.5-2.5 hours between naps.
39-52 weeks old: When your baby goes down to two solid naps, your baby may be awake for two hours in the morning, then 2.5 between naps one and two, and then awake until bedtime which could be a span of four hours. At this point, you won't have to worry so much about how long your baby's wake period is, as long as they get two good naps in the day. And usually, there is a lot more awake time after the second nap until bedtime.
Please just remember that if your baby seems tired, put that baby to bed! If your baby seems wide awake, but you think it's been too long outside of these guidelines, your baby may not give "tired" signs. Therefore, you will have to experiment with your baby. If she's always going down cranky, try putting your baby to bed a bit earlier than normal and see what happens. Once you find the "sweet spot," it will get easier and easier to tell when they are getting tired.
So pay attention to those babies, figure out their individual signs, and get them the sleep they need! And then...when they are awake, love, love, love, love them!
*Sleep is essential. We need sleep to function, to take care of our children, to keep up on every single task life throws at us, to keep our sanity. Are you getting your eight hours or do you have a baby who is keeping you up? Let’s remedy that! In the “Rested Mamas are Happy Mamas” series of our blog, sleep expert Jackie calms all of your sleep woes. Have a question or problem that needs fixing? Comment on the series, and a blog will be published just for you!*