A good sleep schedule between 1 and 4 months old
Author: Heidi Holvoet, PhD
1-4 months 4-12
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
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
this age since baby
sleep patterns are developing and maturing quite drastically now
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
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
Some babies will easily settle here and there for a nap, others need
Use these guidelines to get into a
regular nap schedule:
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,
bit after 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
age. Usually mid-morning, early afternoon and late
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
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 same 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
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
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
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
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 will arrive.
Then your baby will move on towards
six months and up to one year where a more reliable schedule will really
1-4 months 4-12