Are your baby's rhythm and sleep schedule changing all the time?
regular baby sleep schedule under
4 months old anyway thanks to regular nap
opportunities, Heidi's renowned sling trick, a bedtime routine and regular
At this age, babies tend to get into a certain
daily rhythm for a few days. And then, just as you start to realize
they go back
and change it
... and that can be so frustrating, I know.
But don't worry:
This is perfectly normal and
are developing and maturing quite drastically 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
that more solid sleep schedule
A good sleep schedule sets
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,
times are an important
part of the day
. A baby needs naps to make it through the
Some babies will easily settle here and there for a nap, others need
guidelines to get into a
regular nap schedule
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,
nap time actually ...).
This may typically be right after a feeding or
after she's been awake and active for a while.
regular nap times
or three naps a day are typical at this
. Usually mid-morning, early afternoon and late
But very few babies stick to regular nap times
before four to six months. But it
a good idea to
work towards a schedule by
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
Schedule that nap half an hour
earlier next day. It is much easier to settle when not overtired.
Of course, not all babies have learned the
skill yet and so do not settle easily when put down.
Use these gentle and effective
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
with your baby in the
stroller. Most babies sleep very easily when walked around. And it's good
for you too!
At nap time,
put your child in a
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.
each nap in advance and use a bed
Little as they are, it is amazing how much
babies pick up when we
. Talk about the nap a little while
beforehand, so your baby knows what is coming. Remember to be
about it and announce it like something nice.
Both the announcing and the bedtime routine
have the same reason:
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
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
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,
right after she wakes up. That will help her
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
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
Heidi Holvoet, PhD, is the founder of the Baby Sleep Advice website and movement, an award-winning author, baby & toddler sleep consultant with 14+ 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.
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.