What to Do with Your Baby During Wake Windows

Before you become a parent, your days are largely filled with whatever activities you’d like to fill them with.

Netflix binges.


Aimlessly walking around Target.

When you grow your family, your days aren’t always as free – you may have sporting activities or dance recital or play dates.

However, it’s really the early days that I struggled filling the most. What am I supposed to do with an infant all day? I’d ask myself.

And this same question has come up as parents ask me now, “How am I supposed to keep my child awake for their entire wake window? Like…what specifically can I do with them?”

So here we have it: the ultimate list of age-appropriate activities you can do with your child to keep them entertained during their wake windows.

Note: While each age has a list of activities, this isn’t to say those activities are exclusive to that age group. You can definitely take ideas from one list and incorporate it into another.

Wake Time Activities for Newborns (0 days to 3 months)

With newborns, you’re aiming for a wake window of 45 – 90 minutes depending on age. Here are a few ideas for how you can fill that time.

·      Cuddles. Come on. Who doesn’t enjoy newborn cuddles.

·      Go on a walk in the stroller.

·      Tummy time.

·      Put your baby in a bouncer or swing with a mobile.

·      Smile and talk to your baby.

·      Give a gentle massage.

·      Baby wear and continue with household chores or daily activities.

·      Take your baby outside and sit in a chair with him.

Wake Time Activities for Babies Aged 4 months – 6 months

·      Help your baby practice rolling over.

·      Put your baby on a floor mat with a mobile over her so she can practice reaching.

·      Read story books to your baby and let him look at the pictures.

·      Help your baby practice sitting up independently.

·      Put toys on the floor, place your  baby on his tummy, and see if he wants to try to crawl to reach the toys.

·      Take your baby outside and lay her on a blanket in the grass. She’ll love looking at the trees and hearing all of the sounds.

Wake Time Activities for Babies Aged 7 months – 12 months

·      Put gates or barriers around an area to allow your baby to pull up and “graze” the furniture.

·      If your baby has a walker, they may welcome being more mobile throughout the day.

·      If you have an outdoor baby swing, push your baby for a bit outside.

·      Safe-guard a certain area of the home and allow your baby to crawl or explore. This can allow you some time to get work done (while supervising your baby, of course).

Wake Time Activities for Toddlers Under 2

·      Let your baby safely explore outdoors. They don’t need anything special – they’ll likely just enjoy playing with rocks and sticks they find.

·      Fill up a gallon plastic storage bag with waterproof items (stickers, laminated paper, etc.) and then add water for a sensory play bag.

·      Play with your toddler’s favorite toys: blocks, stacking cups, babies.

·      Let your toddler “help” you with dishes by putting a towel on the floor and then giving your baby some plastic dishes to “clean.” Depending on how adventurous you want to be, you can give your child some water in a tub and a washcloth.

·      Turn the sprinkler on outside and let your toddler play in the water.

·      Have a wagon? Put your little one in the wagon and go on a walk around the block.

I want you to view these lists as a starting point for your creativity. While there’s nothing wrong with letting your baby do whatever they want to do while you carry on about your tasks, sometimes, the monotony can be too much to handle. 

If you ever feel like you’re in a slump and need inspiration, come back to visit these lists.

Do you have other ideas that we should add to this list? Drop them in the comments below to help another mama spark creativity!

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I’m Katie

certified pediatric sleep consultant

Fueled by equal parts caffeine and passion, I spend my days helping exhausted mamas get their babies the sleep they need. 

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