From advice on baby sleep aids to baby sleep support, it seems like the number one topic of conversation when you have a newborn is how to make your baby sleep and most importantly, when they will sleep through the night!
Every baby and family are different so there is no set time when it’s guaranteed that your baby will start sleeping soundly and new parent sleep deprivation will end – you may find that even the best sleepers start becoming fussy babies at night with the arrival of new teeth and the onset of coughs and colds.
However, understanding your baby’s sleep patterns and developing a baby sleep routine or sleep schedule will go a long way to ensuring both you and baby get the rest you need to tackle the busy days. Keep reading for tips on how you can get your new born on a sleep schedule or routine that works for both of you…
0-7 Week Old Sleep Schedule: Sleep When Baby Sleeps…
In the early days, your baby will probably sleep most of the time, between 14-17 hours a day. At this stage they have no real concept of day or night, so your baby’s sleep routine will be difficult to predict.
To make sure they get enough sleep and that you are avoiding new parent sleep deprivation, let your baby sleep when they want to sleep and get in your rest when they are out for the count.
It’s easy to get tempted to finish all those jobs you might not be able to do as easily when they are awake but not only will aligning your sleep with baby’s nap schedule help in your recovery from the birth, it will give you the energy you need to care for them when they are awake.
Carla Berlin, Paediatric Sleep Consultant at Snooze Tots says: “Newborn babies can only stay awake for very short periods of time before they start getting tired again - often just 45 minutes-1hour for the first month and this will increase to approximately 1.5 hours by the time they reach 3 months old. Look out for your baby's sleep cues such as yawning and eye rubbing and try to get your little one down for a sleep before they become overtired making them harder to settle.”
8-12 week old sleep schedule: You’ll start to see a pattern…
Around 8 weeks old, your baby’s sleep routine will become a little more predictable and their day/night confusion will begin to subside! This is all good news but bear in mind that they are still very young, and patterns will vary from day to day so you may not be able to determine a firm baby sleep routine just yet.
The important thing is that you will start to understand when your baby is tired and how many naps a day they usually have – the majority still sleep 14-17 hours a day with daytime naps ranging from 3-6. Based on this, you can work out a loose baby nap schedule that accounts for your baby being awake for 90 minutes at a time followed by up to an hour’s nap.
Logging your baby’s sleep routine and patterns, will also help you recognise trends in their waking and sleeping times so you can develop a baby sleep schedule that’s best for you.
If you’re looking for a bit of extra support, the Bluebell monitor has handy sleep tracking for your baby so you can see what their day to day patterns are and start working within that..
3-4month old sleep schedule: Now you’re getting the hang of it…
From 3 months onward, you will be getting the hang of your baby’s natural rhythm. They will be sleeping 14-16 hours a day, including 3 or 4 daytime naps.
Now is the time you can really structure your baby’s sleep routine. Implementing a sleep schedule that incorporates creating a calming environment for your baby at the times you want them to sleep will give them the queue that it is bedtime. This can include having a regular bathtime, playing soft music, mood lighting and/or a set story time. If you are able to recognise when your baby naturally wants to sleep in the evening, start your baby sleep routine half an hour earlier to ensure.
If you can, put your baby to bed when they are drowsy but before they are asleep. This will help them learn how to put themselves to sleep and help you in developing a baby sleep routine.
4-5 month old sleep schedule: A lot more excitement means a little less sleep…
At 4-5 months your baby will most likely be more active and sleep less during the day. They’ll take around 3-4 much shorter naps and sleep nearly 8 hours at night so all in all about 12-15 hours a day.
Some babies still need night feeds at this stage so if you are still up in the night for feeding, it is quite normal.
Others babies may not sleep at night or become more fussy at this stage. This is nothing to worry about and will soon pass.
Most likely your baby’s not sleeping at night because they have started teething or just because they are more interested and excited by the world around them as well as their new skills and ability to move more around their crib.
Don’t let this stop your baby sleep routine in its tracks. If they wake, try to let your baby self-soothe themselves back to sleep once you have checked in on them. This can be harder than it sounds, but it’s a really effective way of baby sleep training. If this doesn’t work for you, there are other baby sleep training methods you can choose from. The most important thing is that you do what works best for you and your baby.
5-6 month old sleep schedule: Don’t give up the baby nap schedule just yet…
By 6 months, your baby will be sleeping a lot less, roughly 11 hours at night with only 2 or 3 naps during the day but as tempting as it might be, don’t drop your daytime baby nap schedule. Naps are still really important for your baby’s development. Skipping naps will also make it difficult for your baby to make it through to bedtime without becoming fussy or falling asleep and this may impact your baby’s sleep routine.
You might find that like the previous stage in your baby’s sleep routine, you have a bit of a restless baby on your hands. This is still because your baby is becoming more and more active and stimulated by exploring the world during the day so it’s difficult for them to settle at night. Teething can also continue to be a problem that leads to your baby not sleeping at night.
In the summer months, include making your baby’s bedroom nice and dark at bedtime in your baby sleep routine. This will help them associate the room with sleep and calm them down before bed so they sleep better. Also keep your baby as busy as possible during the day with lots of tummy time and games to make sure when bedtime comes around they tuckered out enough to be well and truly ready for bed.
Mastering a baby’s sleep routine can sometimes feel like pinning jelly to a wall. Each baby is different, some are early birds, others are night owls. Try to work with what feels natural for your baby and don’t be concerned if a baby that slept through one night, doesn’t another. Your baby is developing and changing all the time, and this will continue to impact and change their sleeping patterns within the first year.