Waketime for your baby can be one of the hardest, most frustrating things to figure out. If you're off, even just 5 minutes, it could mean a short nap. A 45 minute nap in place of a 2 hour nap can make for a big speed bump in your day. Here are a few things that I think are helpful to know about waketime:
1. Waketime includes feeding time. So, when you're trying to figure out the length of waketime for your baby, make sure you add in his feeding time. (If baby feeds for 30 minutes and is awake 20 minutes after that, your total waketime is 50 minutes.)
2. Waketime can consist of baby playing with you and/or baby playing alone. In those early weeks/months, don't think too hard about it. If waketime consists of baby sprawled out on your lap just looking up at you, that's great! If it consists of baby being on a playmat alone, that's great too! A balance of playtime with you and playtime alone is needed. Don't let that mom guilt creep in and tell you otherwise.
3. When naps are short and your baby is consistently waking early, try shortening waketime. If you were doing an hour of waketime, try 55 minutes. Keep going until you see that naps are the correct length. If shortening waketime doesn't lengthen your naps, try lengthening waketime by 5 minute increments. If you notice short naps continue occurring no matter what you do with waketime, it could always be a growth spurt or teething issue. Don't overlook the fact that your baby just might be hungry!
4. Remember that waketime length changes as your baby gets older. At the beginning it may be 45 minutes. When your baby is 2 months, it will most likely be longer than that. When your baby is 4 months, it may be closer to an hour and twenty minutes. Every baby is different so you definitely have to do a little trial and error to figure it out.
5. To go along with number 4, know the signs for when waketime length may be changing. For us, there is one main indicator that waketime needs to be lengthened. If we put Duke down and he is beside himself - crying like crazy and not excited about sleeping - it's most likely because he's honestly not ready for a nap. Of course, not all crying at the beginning of a nap means this. However, since we've always followed Babywise, there came a time when Duke stopped crying for naps (somewhere around 3 months I think). Now, his typical routine is smiling and cuddling up next to his bumper. If he doesn't do that, we know something is off. If this happens, I get him back out, let him play a bit longer, and then put him back down. So far, it's worked every time.
Waketime can be tough to figure out, but once you do, you're golden!