Becoming familiar with sleep patterns can be difficult if you have a newborn baby. You may be wondering how long to keep your baby awake in between naps and whether it’s expected that your baby can only keep their eyes open for shorter periods.
Newborn babies are typically awake for 45 minutes to an hour and a half. Some babies may be awake for as little as 30 minutes or as long as 2 hours, depending on the quality and length of their sleep. Your baby should sleep for 45 minutes to 2 hours after being awake for around 45 minutes.
Although it may seem like your baby isn’t awake for very long, newborns need a lot of sleep. Our article on how long newborns should be awake will help you learn the ins and outs of an infant’s sleep schedule and give you the tools to keep your baby happy when they’re awake.
How Long Do Newborns Stay Awake?
Most first-time (and even veteran) parents absolutely dread the thought of having a fussy, sleep-deprived baby. But rather than focusing on the length of time your baby should be asleep, you may have an easier time getting their sleep schedule right if you focus on how long your baby should be awake.
It’s common for parents to think that the longer they keep their baby awake, the better they will sleep during nap time. Often, parents may even keep their newborn awake for 6 hours straight before bedtime rolls around in the hopes that their little one will sleep through the night.
You may be surprised to know that lengthening your newborn awake time can make it more difficult for your baby to fall asleep. In fact, your newborn should only be awake for between 45 minutes to an hour and a half at most.
Your newborn will generally become tired after around 45 minutes to an hour for the first three months. This time will change as they get older. Between three and six months, your baby may be able to stay awake and alert for longer. However, this time should be limited to an hour and a half or two hours at a stretch.
Why Is Newborn Awake Time Important?
If you want a happy baby with a good sleeping schedule, it can help to know how long your newborn should be awake. Keeping an eye on how long they’ve been up can potentially be even more important than their sleep time.
Your baby will need as much sleep as possible for the first three months of life. During this time, your baby will probably only manage to keep their little eyes open for around 45 minutes. In some cases, they may only be able to stay awake for as little as half an hour.
Letting your newborn sleep when they need to impacts your baby’s temperament and sleep schedule. After all, an overly tired baby will fuss, cry, and scream for as long as possible before they tire themselves out. This can make sleep a difficult time for your baby and for you.
Similarly, your baby may seem even fussier than usual when their sleep is constantly disrupted. Limiting the amount of time your newborn spends awake is the key to a happy, easy baby. Plus, it will make it easier for both parents to get a well-deserved rest during naps and a better night’s sleep when your baby goes down for the night.
Figuring Out How Long Your Baby Should Stay Awake
All babies are different and have slightly different needs. So, although the rule of thumb is generally between 45 minutes to an hour and a half of awake time, the best way to know how long to keep your baby awake is to look for the signs.
Your baby may need more – or less – sleep, depending on their quality of sleep and how long they are napping. No hard or fast rule determines the exact time a baby should be awake, so knowing when your newborn has been awake for too long may be a good way to determine when to put your little one down for a nap.
If you notice that your baby still looks tired after a nap, it may be that your baby did not sleep for long enough or was woken up before they had gotten enough rest. In this case, you shouldn’t try to keep your baby awake for longer than they can manage.
The easiest way to tell if your baby needs sleep is to look out for red eyes, slower blinking, yawning, and rubbing the face. Similarly, your baby’s eyebrow area may look pink or red, and they may appear flushed.
Some other ways to tell if your baby has been awake too long and needs a nap include moving slowly, losing interest in their current activity, moving around less, appearing drowsy and unfocused, and becoming very quiet. Your baby may also stare into the distance or at a specific object for long periods.
Awake Time VS Nap Time For Your Newborn
This is an important question that goes hand-in-hand with your newborn’s awake time. As we’ve mentioned, your newborn may need more sleep if kept awake for too long because their sleep will become disrupted.
Typically, your baby will nap for around 45 minutes to an hour, but some heavy sleepers can nap for up to four hours! It is, however, recommended that you wake your newborn every two hours or so for feedings.
When you wake your baby up, you don’t need to stick to a strict schedule of keeping them awake for a certain period. Instead, you will need to watch for the early signals that your baby is tired and put them down for a nap before they get fussy.
Your newborn baby should be awake between naps for around 45 minutes to an hour and a half. Some babies may sleep a little longer or a little less. Still, you can usually tell how long to keep your baby awake by noticing the early signs of tiredness.
It’s important to remember that every baby is different. Over time, you will become more familiar with how long your baby should be kept awake and how long they usually sleep.
A mother of two, psychologist, and deeply passionate about the challenges of parenting. She has led several businesses, all of them focused on making a positive impact on the community.