Try an early bedtime. Aim to start your dinner/bath/ routine between 5 and 6 p.m. to have baby in the crib by 7. Then consider a nap yourself, because most babies will sleep their longest and deepest stretches between now and midnight.
Take a morning walk. Getting baby out in the sunshine will help her brain establish a day-and-night routine. An afternoon walk after lunch will help too. (Plus with two 15-minute walks you’ll also be getting your minimum daily recommended amount of exercise). Feeding the baby, walking, tummy time, feeding again and then nap at around 10 a.m. is a routine a lot of moms report success with.
Beware the dreaded mini-nap. Babies have this strange ability to fall asleep for 10-15 minutes, then be wide awake as if they’d slept for an hour. So if you know your baby was up a lot the night before and he usually enjoys a 10 a.m. nap, try to get any car or stroller chores out of the way early in the morning to increase the odds that baby will still be awake for a naptime you both can share. If baby falls asleep in the car seat, consider putting down your seat for a quick rest yourself.
Expect night-time wakeups for the first six months. Until your baby starts to be able to digest solid food (which happens at about six months, even if you start solids earlier), one, two and even three wakeups a night are normal and to be expected. Typically a baby will go to sleep at 7, wake up for a feeding at about 12 or 1, then wake up again at 3 or 4 a.m., and is up for the day not too long after that. Formula-fed babies do sleep more and for longer stretches on average, though interestingly, studies have found that formula-feeding moms actually sleep fewer hours. All the bottle-washing, maybe?
Have a go-to-sleep ritual. Feeding, bath, putting on PJs, singing the same song, rocking, dimming the lights, reciting the same poem or prayer… whatever steps you come up with, incorporating mini-routines in your daily schedule will help baby relax because he knows what to expect next.
After about four months, it’s okay to let the baby cry himself to sleep when it’s bedtime. You’ve had plenty of activity and fun all day, he’s fed and cleaned, songs have been sung and stories read– if he cries a little bit before he drifts off to sleep, do not feel bad about this. If he cries for more than an hour, check his diaper and make sure he’s fed, but don’t feel bad about putting him down if it’s bedtime. If he persistently has a problem settling down to bed at night, try cutting out after-lunch naps and moving bedtime to a little earlier and checking your caffeine intake if you’re breastfeeding.
Sample 1-4 Month Baby ScheduleYou can't force a baby to sleep, but you can use routines to help your baby fall into slightly more predictable sleep patterns. If you're feeling like your life with your 1 to 4-month-old baby is chaos, give a routine like the one below a try. After about 4-6 months, most babies will move towards a single nap after lunch, at which point you may want to move lunch earlier so a late nap doesn't interfere with bedtime.
|5 a.m.||Wake up, diaper change, feeding|
|6 a.m.||Play in crib, on the floor, in a high chair or swing while parents get dressed|
|7:30 a.m.||Have a feeding|
|8:15 a.m.||Take morning walk|
|9 a.m.||Tummy time, Do chores, run errands, play with parent, etc.|
|10 a.m.||Feeding, morning nap|
|2-3 p.m.||Feeding, quick afternoon nap|
|4 p.m.||Afternoon walk, dinner|
|6 p.m.||Bath, toothbrushing, reading, singing songs|
Like this article? Check out our book Great Expectations: Baby Sleep Guide: Sleep Solutions for You & Your Baby