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Waketime for newborns can be a tricky subject. Trying to figure out when a baby should be awake during the first three months of life is one thing; figuring out what to do with newborn waketime is another. Here is some Babywise newborn waketime guidance.
During the first two weeks of life, your baby will not have a distinct waketime apart from his feeding time. Your baby’s feeding time is his waketime, because that’s all a newborn can handle before sleep overtakes his little body.
Waketime: Weeks 2-3
Usually by weeks two or three, most babies fall into a predictable feed-wake-sleep routine. When this happens, you and your baby have arrived at another level of success.
Once you make it through those first couple of weeks filled with new experiences, life begins to settle in as your baby’s routine takes shape. What might a feed-wake-sleep routine look like in the first two weeks of your baby’s life?
Within a 2-3 hour period, 30-50 minutes of that is "waketime", while 1.5-2 hours will be spent sleeping. We use quotes around waketime because it reflects the fact that feeding time is essentially the same as waketime during those first two weeks. Those 30 to 50 minutes include feeding, diaper change, burping and any other hygiene care necessary, not to mention cuddles and kisses.
Waketime: Weeks 3-5
Around week three, waketimes start to separate as a distinct activity and may last up to 30 minutes. We are not saying your baby’s waketime will be 30 minutes, but rather it may last up to 30 minutes in addition to feeding time. Waketime is usually followed by a 1½ to 2-hour nap.
With healthy sleep habits established, accompanied by longer waketimes, a new level of alertness begins to emerge that requires additional thought and planning. Moving to week six, your baby’s waketimes become very distinct and the length of feeding time more precise.
Waketime: Weeks 6-12
Waketimes are followed by the typical 1½ to 2-hour nap, depending on your baby’s sleep needs. By week 12, waketimes could be 60 minutes or longer. By then your baby should be sleeping through the night, so you will be offering one less feeding in a 24-hour period.
However, as waketimes begin to lengthen, there is the potential for a subtle and undesired shift in Baby’s feed-wake-sleep routine that must be avoided at all cost. Do not allow a “wake-feed-sleep” order to overtake the established “feed-wake-sleep” routine.
Here is how this subtle shift occurs:
Mom is feeding her seven-week-old, but today, Baby falls asleep without an adequate waketime. After a shorter than normal nap, Baby wakes, but is not interested in feeding because he is not hungry. Trying to keep Baby on schedule, Mom then holds off the feeding twenty to thirty minutes. Instead of feeding after his nap, when he is well rested, Baby is now feeding after a waketime when he has less energy to feed efficiently.
It is not a big deal if this happens once or twice. However, if this subtle shift continues to repeat itself off and on, even for a couple of days, then Baby’s routine will begin to reflect a “wake-feed-sleep” cycle. Here is the problem with that routine: inadequate waketimes lead to insufficient sleep, resulting in shorter naptimes; shorter naps lead to inefficient feedings, and from there, everything falls apart.
That is why feedings, in the early months, should follow after naps and not waketimes. If you have any further questions about waketime routine during baby's first three months, head over to our "Ask Us" page.
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