A good sleep schedule between 1 and 4 months old

Author Name: Heidi Holvoet, PhD

Intro Newborn 1-4 months 4-12 months

Are your baby's rhythm and sleep schedule changing all the time? Find a regular baby sleep schedule under 4 months old anyway thanks to regular nap opportunities, Heidi's renowned sling trick, a bedtime routine and regular nights.

Baby sleeping in pink close up

At this age, babies tend to get into a certain daily rhythm for a few days. And then, just as you start to realize that there is a rhythm, bam! they go back and change it ... and that can be so frustrating, I know.

But don't worry:

  • This is perfectly normal and very typical of this age since baby sleep patterns are developing and maturing quite drastically now

  • Leaving some flexibility now , i.e. allowng your baby's natural sleep patterns to flourish, is a good investment towards a stronger schedule in a few months

  • Use the simple guidelines below to start preparing that more solid sleep schedule now

A good sleep schedule sets regular times for naps during the day and a regular night bed time . Regular naps are a good preparation to the night. A baby who's not over-tired at night, can settle more easily into longer nights.

So let's get started to prepare for a proper sleep schedule now.

Regular nap times

As your little one grows out of the newborn sleeping - feeding phase, she will have new activities besides feed, sleep, feed, sleep, ... She will be awake for longer, start looking around, interact with you and other family members more, discover her own hands, feet, toys, ...

In between all this, nap times are an important part of the day . A baby needs naps to make it through the day happily. Some babies will easily settle here and there for a nap, others need more structure.

Use these guidelines to get into a regular nap schedule :

  1. Observe your baby to find out when she might be in for a nap

    Look for signs like rubbing her eyes, losing interest in anything around her, staring, yawning or crankiness (well, that's a bit after nap time actually ...).

    This may typically be right after a feeding or after she's been awake and active for a while.

  2. Encourage regular nap times

    Two or three naps a day are typical at this age . Usually mid-morning, early afternoon and late afternoon.

    But very few babies stick to regular nap times before four to six months. But it is a good idea to work towards a schedule by creating a nap opportunity at regular times .

    If you find that she often becomes sleepy at around 10am, then again at 1pm and 4pm, put your baby down to bed for a nap at roughly that same time each day.

    If you she gets cranky before you put her to bed, she may be overtired . Schedule that nap half an hour earlier next day. It is much easier to settle when not overtired.

    Consult my No-Tears Naps book, aka the "Nap in a Snap" step-by-step guide for easy tools to ensure the best nap routine for your baby.

    Of course, not all babies have learned the self-soothing skill yet and so do not settle easily when put down.

    Use these gentle and effective tricks to get naps anyway :

    • When your baby falls asleep at the end of a feeding (and maybe even sleeps through burping), hold her a little longer until fast asleep and then gently put her down to continue the nap

    • Take regular walks with your baby in the stroller. Most babies sleep very easily when walked around. And it's good for you too!

    • Top tip! At nap time, put your child in a baby sling or other carrier . Most babies enjoy being carried a lot and will sleep comfortably. And you have your hands free around the house. Do make sure the sling is well adapted to your baby's age and well designed to spare your shoulders and back.

    These tricks are perfect to get your baby into a nap sleep schedule. When you keep doing this at about the s ame times each day , she will start feeling drowsy at these times. Then it will be easier to settle for a nap, also when put down into the crib or cot awake.

  3. Announce each nap in advance and use a bed time routine

    Little as they are, it is amazing how much babies pick up when we talk to them . Talk about the nap a little while beforehand, so your baby knows what is coming. Remember to be positive about it and announce it like something nice.

    Also, if you are putting your baby down for the nap, use your bedtime routine .

    Both the announcing and the bedtime routine have the same reason: when your baby knows what is coming, she will settle more easily .

    And after a good nap, praise your child: let your baby know that you are happy about that.

A sleep schedule for the night

The sleep schedule for the night is quite simple: make sure you have a clear start and end of the night . So for example you choose the night from 7pm until 7am. Or from 9pm until 8am. That depends on your own schedule.

Does this mean your baby should sleep this whole stretch?

Of course not. No complaints if she does of course ... but there will probably be a couple of night feedings. Just make sure that you keep the lights dim and all interaction to the minimum . Don't be tempted into many smiles or funny faces during the night.

Also here, after any good stretch of sleep, praise your baby right after she wakes up. That will help her learn that sleeping is a good thing.

Remember that, especially in the first months, your baby's sleep schedule will change quite often. Quite frustratingly, as many mothers will tell you, just as you think you found a good working schedule, your baby will go and change it completely.

She will skip a feeding, add an extra nap, wake up earlier in the morning, ... If that happens: take a deep breath, and follow along to find the next schedule, a solid one will arrive.

Then your baby will move on towards six months and up to one year where a more reliable schedule will really take form.

Intro Newborn 1-4 months 4-12 months

Article Author: Heidi Holvoet, PhD - Founder, senior sleep consultant

Heidi Holvoet, PhD

Heidi Holvoet, PhD, is the founder of the Baby Sleep Advice website and movement, an award-winning author, baby & toddler sleep consultant with 15+ years experience as well as a certified lactation counselor.

Over the years, Heidi has received several awards inluding a Mom's Choice Award (MCA) and National Parenting Awards (NAPPA) for her Baby Sleep Advice website, programs and books. Also, Baby Sleep Advice was awarded "Most Trusted Infant's Sleep Solutions Company 2023" in the Benelux Enterprise Awards 2023.

Heidi continually conducts personal research and participates in continued education and in that way stays up to date with current scientific and pyschosocial infant care.

Association of Professional Sleep Consultants

She is also a member of the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants of which she was one of the earliest contributors. She obtained her PhD degree in physics at the University of Ghent in Belgium.

Heidi is passionate about helping babies and their parents sleep more and better, with her trademark approach that has been proven and praised time and again by parents worldwide to be effective and truly no-tears. Respect for you as a parent and your baby, is at the heart of Heidi's warm and kind support. Her approach always keeps in mind a baby's needs and abilities at any given age, is based on pediatric science and the most up to date knowledge in infant care and sleep science.

As well as the award-winning baby sleep programs, Heidi offers popular 1:1 consults and easy-access 30-minute SOS Sleep sessions.