Are you excited to get your baby on a regular sleep schedule so that you, too, can start sleeping through the night again?
Newborns usually sleep for short periods of two to three hours, and wake up frequently to feed. As your baby gets older (around three to five months), their natural sleep rhythm starts to develop and their patterns can become more predictable. This is the time to establish a sleep schedule.
Step 1: Set The Stage
The perfect stage for sleep is a crib – this includes naps! If you’re struggling to get your baby to sleep in their crib, I’ve got some tips for you here.
Create a soothing environment with a white noise machine or fan to drown out outside noise, and blackout curtains.
When their nursery is calm and unstimulating, they’ll find it easier to self soothe.
Step 2: Make Sure They’re Getting Enough Naps
From four to six months, babies should be getting three to four naps a day for around one to two hours each. Then, nighttime sleep at about 7pm.
For example, your baby can have a morning nap, midday nap, then late afternoon nap if you’re putting them down three times a day.
The exact timing has to do with your unique baby’s cues.
Step 3: Know Your Baby’s Cues
Your baby will tell you when they’re tired – not in so many words but with their cues.
Watch their eyes. If they’re looking away from you or staring off into space, they’re probably trying to avoid stimulation because they’re tired. Yawning, rubbing eyes, and becoming rigid are loud cues that they’re tired.
Also, check their wake window. Have they been awake for the optimal time based on their developmental age? The wake windows for a three to five month old baby will be about two to three hours long.
Step 4: Stop With The Catnaps
Catnaps refer to short bursts of sleep – 30 to 40 minutes. This isn’t helpful for your baby’s sleep schedule because this can build-up overtiredness which can cause a struggle when nighttime rolls around.
If your baby wakes up from their nap early, don’t go to them straight away as they might still be sleepy – see if they’ll drop off again on their own. Babies need to get used to their new sleep schedule.
Get my free guide on how to help your baby nap longer than 30 minutes.
Step 5: Have A Pre-Sleep Routine
Babies thrive on routine. A consistent nighttime routine helps little ones relax and get ready to visit dreamland. It doesn’t have to be too long; 30 minutes is good. This time can consist of activities like a warm bath, a baby massage with soothing lavender lotion, and a lullaby. As you go through this routine, turn down any loud noise and bright lights. As the sun goes down, reduce the stimulation, too.
Step 6: Have A Daytime Routine
Make the most of your baby’s wake windows with tummy time, full feedings, and trips outside. In fact, spending time in natural sunlight regularly aids in the establishment of good sleep patterns for babies.
Step 7: Tackle Signs Of Sleep Regression
At around four months of age, it’s common for babies to go through a sleep regression. This is when they revert back to their newborn sleeping habits, and wake up every couple of hours at night.
If this is happening, don’t panic – your baby will go back to sleeping through the night soon. This regression is usually the result of teething pain, overstimulation, or not enough feedings.
Remember: When your baby’s sleep habits change as they grow older, so do their feedings. Make sure your baby is getting enough calories during the day to make up for the feeds they’re missing when they’re sleeping through the night.
I know, mama, it can be challenging to get your baby into a regular schedule, but don’t give up! A predictable sleep schedule will comfort your little one and lays the foundation for them to fall asleep on their own and sleep through the night.