The Ultimate Baby Sleep Schedule Guide For 0-4 Months
Wouldn't it be wonderful if babies came with a user manual? Especially if it included details about sleep. Things such as: What time should my baby go to bed? What is a normal baby sleep schedule? When will my baby sleep through the night?
First, take a deep breath and hang in there. The first months of parenting are not easy. Thankfully, the sleep deprivation does eventually lessen; especially if you are able to get your baby on an age-appropriate sleep schedule.
There are some common sleep patterns during the first months and years. Understanding these patterns will help you keep your baby rested and develop great sleep habits right from the start.
It is time to dive into the first four months and see what sort of baby sleep schedule you can realistically expect. Don't' forget that these are averages; meaning some babies will need more sleep and others less. Your baby isn't broken if they don't follow exactly what you see here.
Baby Sleep Schedule: 0-1 Month
There are two very important things to know about newborn sleep. First, newborn babies need a lot of sleep. Second, they don't stick to set sleep schedules.
It is very normal to feel like all your newborn does is eat, poop, and sleep. As he or she gets older, you will see more playfulness and alertness as your baby begins to stay awake for longer periods of time.
If you have a champion newborn napper, enjoy it! Those long naps will likely shorten the closer your baby gets to 2-3 months. But, the good news is that they will start to lengthen again around 5-6 months if you stick to an age-appropriate baby sleep schedule and work on independent sleep in a way comfortable for you.
If your newborn primarily takes short naps, don't be discouraged. This is very normal. Newborns do need a lot of sleep, but it often feels like they don't sleep much at all because it comes in a lot of short spurts rather than a few long stretches.
Total Sleep: 14-17 hours per day
Naps: Offer a nap every 30-60 minutes. Newborns take 4-6 naps a day, from 20 minutes - 3 hours. Total daytime sleep is 6-8 hours.
Nights: Bedtime is 10:00 PM - 11:00 PM. Babies wake several times for feedings, usually hitting at least one 3-4 hour stretch of sleep. It is okay to stop waking your baby for night feedings and instead let your baby wake you after you get the okay from your pediatrician, often when your baby has returned to birth weight.
Tip: During the first 4 weeks, work on having your baby take full feedings. Do this by unswaddling them, undressing down to the diaper if needed, tickling their feet, playing with their hands, wiping their forehead or arm with a wet wipe. Basically, keep them awake long enough to eat a meal rather than just a snack. Certainly, snacks are okay sometimes. But, you don't want all snacks and no meals. Newborns will typically want a meal every 2-3 hours both night and day.
Full feeds are important because a full belly is important for good sleep. A baby who only snacks will wake much more often than a baby who eats meals. Snacking babies tend fall asleep eating because they are tired, wake up fussy within an hour or so because they are hungry, start eating, and then fall back asleep. The cycle repeats because they are never eating enough to be fully satisfied or sleeping long enough to feel fully rested.
A baby who eats meals is much more likely to take longer naps because they are full enough to sleep past the 30-60 minutes mark.
Now, cluster feeding is very normal in the late afternoon and evening. There will also be times your baby just wants to nurse. That is okay! Make it your goal for your baby to have a full feeding at least every 2-3 hours in the beginning. It is hard, but worth it! Also, don't stress if your baby just doesn't get the hang of it right away. Full feedings take practice!
Baby Sleep Schedule: 1-2 Months
You've made it through the first month! You and your baby are getting to know each other, and you may feel like you are starting to find your parenting groove. Or, you may still feel completely exhausted and like you are a walking zombie. Hang in there. The first 4 months can be challenging, and weeks 4-8 can feel particularly challenging.
Your baby is starting to "wake up" a little bit, not sleeping quite as long as they did the first few weeks. You may even catch an early smile during this period!
Now, your baby's internal clock is starting to mature and you'll likely see any day-night confusion coming to an end. Your baby may even start sleeping a 5-6+ hour chunk at night!
Total sleep: 14-17 hours per day
Naps: Offer a nap every 60-75 minutes. Baby continues to take 4-6 naps, lasting 20 minutes - 3 hours. Total daytime sleep is 4-6 hours.
Nights: Bedtime is 9:00 - 10:00 PM. The longest stretch of night sleep may hit 5-6+ hours (or may remain 3-4 hours).
Tip: Start to work on independent sleep. As your baby gets older, having the ability to fall asleep independently will be a huge help.
Start with the first nap of the day. Put your baby down drowsy but awake. Give them a few minutes to settle. If your timing is right, your baby will likely drift off to sleep in a few minutes. If needed, you can pat your baby's tummy, making a shushing noise, or offer a paci.
If your baby has reflux or colic, you will likely find putting your baby down drowsy but awake to be a challenge. Hang in there! Meet your baby where he or she is; you won't break your baby by soothing them to sleep. Practice when you can, but don't worry if you can't.
Also, talking about independent sleep at such an early age gives some parents pause. You may be wondering if it means never feeding or rocking to sleep? Letting your baby cry? The answer to both of those is a big fat no. At this age, if your baby starts crying, you soothe - first in the crib with the shushing, patting, and paci - and then out of the crib if that doesn't work. It is all about slow and gentle.
Baby Sleep Schedule: 2-3 Months
This is a busy time for babies. Newborn fussiness peaks around 6-8 weeks and then fades by 10-12 weeks. Smiles become more frequent, and babies become much more interested in their surroundings.
It is also time to consider dropping the swaddle. While the American Academy of Pediatrics' official recommendation is to stop swaddling when your baby starts to show signs of rolling over soon, the most conservative recommendations are to stop at 8 weeks.
This is because it is impossible to guess when your baby might roll for the first time Rolling can start as early as 8 weeks. This is a great topic to discuss with your pediatrician at the 2 month well visit.
Total sleep: 14-17 hours per day
Naps: Offer a nap every 75-90 minutes. Babies take 3-5 naps, lasting 20 minutes - 2 hours. Start waking your baby if a nap goes over 2 hours. This serves two purposes: keeps daytime feedings from being pushed into the nighttime, and keeps all the daytime sleep from getting lumped into only 1-2 naps.
Nights: Bedtime moves a bit earlier, aim for 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM. The longest stretch of sleep lengthens to 5-8 hours, possibly longer.
Tip: Pick a consistent time to start the day. This is the time that if your baby is still sleeping, you will wake them and start the day. If they are awake before this time, you will keep it dark and night-like until this time. It is okay to give 30 minutes of wiggle room on either side.
Having a consistent morning wake time gives your baby's internal clock an anchor point. It gets their brain and body used to waking and eating at that time. The beauty of this is that while your baby is not yet on a clock schedule for naps or feedings, you will have a semblance of routine from day to day.
Most babies naturally wake between 6:00 AM and 7:30 AM, so you are most likely to see success if you pick a time within this window.
Baby Sleep Schedule: 3-4 Months
Congratulations! You've made it to the end of the 4th trimester; that initial period after birth when your baby is adjusting to being out in the world.
During this period, your baby's brain matures and becomes much more adult-like when it comes to sleep. This is what causes the infamous four month sleep regression.
Total sleep: 13-15 hours per day
Naps: Offer a nap every 75-120 minutes (1.25 - 2 hours). Babies take 2-4 naps lasting 20 minutes - 2 hours. Continue to wake your baby if a nap goes much over 2 hours.
Nights: Bedtime scoots earlier, to 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM. Babies often start to wake more frequently overnight thanks to the 3 month growth spurt + the 4 month sleep regression.
Tip: Don't start any new habits you don't want to sustain for the long haul. If your baby has already been falling asleep on his or her own, hang in there. Their sleep will likely return to normal in a couple weeks.
If your baby has not been falling asleep independently, now is a great time to start working on it. The way your baby falls asleep at bedtime is the way they will want to return to sleep each time they wake between sleep cycles. This often means a good deal of parental assistance is needed overnight.
If what you are currently doing is not sustainable for your family, it is time to decide what will be sustainable and work towards that goal. Remember, it is easier to make changes now than it will be when your baby is several more months used to the current way of doing things.
Healthy Newborn Sleep Schedule
It is never too early to start working on developing healthy sleep habits and a solid sleep foundation. A huge part of this is developing an age-appropriate sleep schedule. Offering sleep at the appropriate intervals keeps your baby from becoming overtired.
Once you know your baby's wake windows, you can anticipate when they will next need sleep. Putting your baby down before they become fussy and overtired make it much easier for your baby to drift off to sleep.
Are you ready to make sleep a thing at your house, but feel stuck or unsure how? Working with parents 1-1 to take the stress out of baby and toddler sleep is my joy.
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