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Babies, stressed?You might not think a little person who spends most of her time napping, eating, and playing would feel too tightly wound, but babies experience stress just like the rest of us. “Babies receive a huge amount of sensory information that they have to process every day,” says Megan Faure, author of The Babysense Secret. “Their brains haven’t mastered the ability to filter out information that isn’t important, so exposure to too many things at once can cause them to become overly sensitive and stressed.”

Babies and toddlers recharge their sensory threshold through sleep, so the right amount of Zzz’s is essential. “Think about the two-year-old who misses his daily nap, then snaps when his toy breaks—his level of tolerance for normal events has dropped,” Faure says. Watch for signals that indicate she’s reaching her sensory limit, such as sucking on her hands, playing with her ears, avoiding eye contact, and crying, and help your child stick to her regular nap and sleep schedule with this chart from The Babysense Secret.

Approximate wake times

Use this handy table to find out how long your child’s awake time should last, which is determined by how old she is.

Age 0-6 weeks 6-17 weeks 4-6 months 6-9 months 9-12 months 1-2 years 2-3 years 3-5 years
Awake time 45 minutes 1 hour 1 ½ hours 2 hours 2 ½ hours 3 hours 4 hours 5 hours
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