Sleep routines for your baby

sleep routines for your baby

Guidelines for different sleep routines at different ages. Every mom and baby is different and a routine that proposes to be a one fits all is not realistic. Here are guidelines for different routines at different ages:

Routines for newborns

Your newborn is too little to have a fixed routine and routines at this age generally do more harm than good. Here are the principles:

  • Don’t aim for routine at this stage
  • Feed on demand
  • Expect your baby to wake as frequently day and night • Aim to settle your baby to sleep after an hour of awake time during the day

Routines for 2 – 4 months

Patterns begin to emerge, with your baby guiding the way; a routine may be possible in this age band:

  • Feed 3-4 hourly
  • At nights your baby will begin to stretch the time between feeds
  • Put your baby to sleep during the day after 1 ½ hours of awake time

Read more about awake times


Routines for 4-6 months

Routines begin to emerge in earnest and most babies do well with the predictability of when to sleep and when to feed:

  • Feed on schedule with flexibility – 3-4 hours between milk feeds. Solids may be introduced during this time, if your baby needs solids

Read more on introducing solids

  • Introduce a consistent bedtime routine that calms your baby for sleep. Do not leave your baby’s bathroom and room during this time
  • Suggested day sleep routine:
    • Wake between 5 and 7am
    • Wake +1 ½ hours = morning nap – 45 minutes
    • Wake +1 ½ hours = late morning nap or sleep
    • If this sleep short – wake +1 ½ hours = afternoon nap and another cat nap at 5pm (4 sleeps)
    • If this sleep is long – wake + 2 hours = afternoon nap
    • Wake from naps by 5pm
    • Bedtime routine starts 1 hour before bed
    • Bedtime by 6:30

Routines for 6- 9 months

At this age, routines can make the difference between a good eater and sleeper or poor habits:

  • Day sleep routine:
    • Wake between 5 and 7am
    • Wake +2 hours = morning nap – 45 minutes
    • Wake +2 hours = midday sleep
    • Wake + 2 ½ hours = afternoon nap
    • Wake from naps by 4:30pm
    • Bedtime routine starts 1 hour before bed
    • Bedtime by 6:30

Routines for 9-12 months

A good day sleep and feeding routine assists good night sleep habits:

  • Day sleep routine:
    • Wake between 5 and 7am
    • Wake +2 ½ hours = morning nap – 45 minutes
    • Wake +2 ½ hours = midday sleep
    • From 9 months – drop afternoon nap
    • Wake from naps by 4pm i.e. very short cat nap if needed
    • Bedtime routine starts 1 hour before bed
    • Bedtime by 6:30

Routines for toddlers

By now a routine should be a way of life and will free you up in many ways:

  • Day sleep routine:
    • 6-7am Wake
    • 11:30 lunch
    • 12pm – one midday sleep
    • Wake from sleep by 3pm
    • Bedtime routine starts 1 hour before bed
    • Bedtime by 6:30- 7pm

Routines are not a priority

If you are a go-with the flow, laissez-faire type person you may not want a routine at all and that is perfectly good, particularly if you have a settled baby.

Read more about baby personality

By Meg Faure