How much sleep should my baby have, how many naps and what times of day? I get these questions a lot so I’m going to lay it all out for you and give you the sleep schedule you’ve been searching for!
Whether you love the predictability of a routine or you prefer to be more flexible, you can have the best of both worlds when you give your little one the rhythmicity they need for good sleep.
You see, the body is ready for sleep time and awake time at different intervals and this changes as your baby grows. Knowing how you can accommodate this for your growing baby is going to help you to keep them in a sleep schedule that maximises their ability to take the length of sleep they need and get the quality of sleep they need too.
Newborns sleep a lot and it can be quite disorganised and little and often. You may begin to see a pattern form with feeding every 3-4 hours through day and this is a great opportunity to steer them into a rhythm of waking up, feeding, playing and then settling to sleep again.
By practicing feeding upon waking it will help you avoid feeding right before sleeps and creating an association of using milk to fall asleep.
So between 5-8 months your little one will need 3 naps per day and ideally equating to around 4 hours total and they will do best to be awake for no longer than 2-2.5 hours between sleeps – this increases slightly from 5-8 months.
Between 8-10 months they’ll drop the third nap and settle onto two naps per day totalling 3 hours and ideally no more than 3 hours awake between sleeps.
This will continue until they’re ready to drop to one nap which typically happens somewhere between 13-17 months and is usually a slower transition – definitely check out my videos on how to navigate this transition as it can trip us up if we’re not prepared
Once they’re down to one nap per day they’re good to be awake for about 5-6 hours in one stretch making the middle of the day the ideal time for that one long nap. The nap will start out at 2.5-3 hours long on some days gradually settling on 2.5 hours and then staying at 2 hours for a while. It will only reduce down from two hours as they get closer to age 3 years.
Throughout this time, the night sleep is ideal at 11-12 hours. If your little one sleeps longer, they may be catching up but any less than 11 hours and you may have an overtired little one on your hands!
So, you need to take this information and put it into a schedule…
Take the time they wake for the day and the ideal awake time to help you spot where the first nap needs to sit.
Keeping one eye on your little one’s cues and the other eye on the time, you should be able to find that sweet spot for getting them down for the nap – Then, see how well the nap goes. If you get the full ideal nap, go for the whole awake time again before the next sleep.
If the nap was short, reduce the awake time and bring the next sleep a little earlier. Once you get into a good rhythm with timings that work, you’ll find your little one sleeps better and it’s all a lot more predictable which brings you a sense of routine but also flexibility because you know when to do what with your day.
Sticking to a consistent bedtime is preferable but not at the cost of keeping a tired child up when they need to get to sleep. When a little one is not napping well or is overtired for any reason, it can help to have some early nights to help replenish them.
So there you have it, a baby sleep schedule for you – they’re not robots and don’t always stick to the ideal plan we have for them but with this knowledge, you’ll be able to help your little one to get the sleep they need and steer them into an ideal rhythm for their age and developmental stage.
Do you have difficulty with your little one’s sleep schedule? Tell us what’s troubling you in the comments below and I’ll bet you’re not alone!
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