Studies about sleep rhythms are based on age. If your baby was born premature, then you should use the estimated due date (EDD) of your baby to correctly figure out “age.” This is important to keep in mind when trying to determine what type of schedule your baby needs. Remember, all babies are different….this is a guideline only.
Newborn to 8 weeks:
- There is no sleep pattern and sleep just happens when it does.
- Parents cannot really influence sleep at this age.
- Babies may be fussy in the late afternoon.
- Many babies experience day and night confusion.
- Do whatever you need to in order to help your baby and your family get the sleep they need. Enlist the help of a postpartum doula or family and friends.
2 months to 3 months:
- As your baby becomes more social, he may not be as quick to fall asleep. You may also find that your baby is not falling asleep as easily in places he used to, such as the swing, bouncy seat, or car seat.
- It’s important to start to notice sleep cues. Yawning, fussiness, staring, pulling at ears, rubbing eyes, and moving his head from side to side (especially against your skin) are all examples of sleep cues. Most babies at this age can only stay awake for 45 to 90 minutes at a time. This means that most babies at this age are taking several naps a day that vary in length.
- It’s a good time to begin using a routine for bedtime and naps, placing your child where you would like him to be sleeping. Over time, this will signal to your baby that it is getting to be time to sleep.
- Bedtime should be set between 6-8pm. Circadian rhythms for children under three usually start during this time frame.
- Your baby may still wake 2-4 times at night for feedings.
3 months to 4 months:
- Continue to watch for sleep cues to make sure your child is not getting overtired.
- Naps begin to get longer and you may see some naps occurring at regular times. Naps may occur somewhere around 9, 12, and 3 with some variation. Some babies still take as many as 4 naps.
- Your baby may still need 2-3 feedings at night.
4 months to 5 months:
- This is the earliest age where sleep training and scheduling may be considered.
- Most babies will move to 3 naps occurring around 9am, 12 pm, and 3 pm (assuming a 7 am wake up)
- Some naps may be short because the baby is still getting organized. If your child is not crying, try to do an hour long nap… even if your child is awake. This can give you a needed break as well as set a habit of resting. He may fall back asleep, but, if your baby does not, go ahead and pick him up if he does not resettle.
- Putting your baby down drowsy, but awake, will give your baby a chance to develop self-soothing skills.
- Use a consistent place for sleeping. Make sure the room is dim.
- The last nap should end by about 3 hours before bedtime.
- Be patient and consistent with your baby (and yourself) as sleep patterns develop.
6 months to 8 months:
- Naps will begin to lengthen. Babies that were taking 3 naps will often begin to transition to 2 naps. These naps will occur somewhere around 9 and 1.
- Bedtime is around 3 hours after the end of the afternoon nap for a 6-8 pm bedtime.
- Continue to use consistent routines to help your child sleep well during the day and at night.
- Some babies still need 1-2 feedings at night.
8 months to 12 months:
- The third nap will often be dropped at this time if it hasn’t already and two naps will occur around 9 am and 1pm.
- The afternoon nap will begin to get longer.
- Your child may need a super early bedtime, especially if their afternoon nap is not very long.
- There may still be 1 feeding at night. Try to make this feeding after midnight if possible.
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