How long should my baby stay awake?

IMG_0867How do you know if your baby is tired? How often do babies need to sleep?

I tell parents to watch for the sleepy signs of their baby to know if the baby is tired. Each baby has different sleepy signs so you need to learn the sleepy signs for your child. Some babies become more active when they are tired. Some babies stare into space, make whiny sounds or rub their eyes. Watch and observe to find the signs for your baby.

To know whether your baby is ready for sleep:
1) watch the sleepy signs
2) watch the clock.

        Newborn babies can only tolerate being awake for about 45 minutes before they reach the overtired state. As your baby grows and develops the amount of time your baby can stay awake increases. When your baby becomes overtired, their body releases cortisol which makes it more difficult for the baby to fall sleep. It is important to limit the awake time to what your baby can tolerate at their age.

This is a quick reference guide to how long babies can stay awake.

Under 2 months:   45 minutes to 1 hour
3 months:   1.5 hours
4 months:   1.75 to 2 hours
5 months:   2 hours
6 months:   2.5 hours
7 months:   2.75 hours
8-9 months:  3 hours
10-11 months:   3-4 hours
12-14 months:   3-4 hours if taking 2 naps,  4.5-6 hours if taking 1 nap


Sleep needs to be a priority for your child just like food is. You would not force your child to miss a meal so make sure you are also not forcing your child to miss the sleep which their body needs.

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Arlene Fryling

Arlene is a registered nurse and certified sleep consultant for children 0-5 years. She has cared for premature, sick, and many healthy babies. For over 15 years she has taught expectant parents how to care for their newborns through classes teaching basic baby care, infant massage classes, and moderating support groups for new moms as they deal with parenting issues.

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