Experienced parents everywhere will tell you that getting baby on a sleep schedule is SO important. Babies love schedules for their predictability, and need sleep to thrive, so ensuring you stick to a baby sleep schedule is going to help tremendously. In fact, getting your baby on a sleep schedule early on could be the key to healthy sleep for years to come.
If you’re currently experiencing the sleep deprivation of motherhood, or maybe you’re dreading its arrival, then read on to learn all about getting your little one on a baby sleep schedule that will help you all get the rest you need.
When can you get baby on a sleep schedule?
In the early stages of motherhood, when you first bring that sweet smelling babe home, there really is no “schedule” per say — other than the one decided by your baby’s needy cries. For the first month, your little one will be sleeping constantly (anywhere from 14-19hrs a day!), and eating almost every hour to fill that tiny stomach. Also, after living in a dark womb for nine months, they won’t understand when it’s daytime or nighttime. With all these factors, it’s almost impossible to stick to a baby sleep schedule, so don’t set too high an expectation for yourself right off the bat.
By about 2 months old, your baby’s internal clock will be a bit more predictable, and you may be able to start implementing a basic newborn baby sleep schedule. It’s always good to start some routines & schedules early on, just to get them accustomed to it. Around 3 months, you’ll start to notice more stable and predictable sleeping patterns. Between 3 and 6 months, your baby's bedtime, naptime and wake-up times will increasingly fall at around the same times each day, and you’ll learn to anticipate your baby’s natural sleep cues & sleepy times.
Keep in mind that even when your baby achieves a baby sleep schedule, they can also face sleep regressions, caused by their physiological changes, which will backtrack that progress every now and then. Don’t get too discouraged. Sleep regressions are only temporary and your little one will be back on a schedule in no time. To learn more about sleep regressions, why they happen, and tips to survive them, click here.
What's the best baby sleep schedule?
The best baby sleep schedules involve consistency — in order to avoid overstimulation or over-tiredness. Unfortunately, there is no one-schedule-fits-all approach. You’re going to have to figure out what works best for you and your child, and make note of their sleep cues & wake windows. However, there are suggested “baby sleep schedule by month” guidelines for babies’ sleep needs based on each monthly stage of development; parents use these parameters to gauge how much sleep their own baby may need. Baby sleep schedules vary, depending on how many hours of sleep the baby needs in a 24hr period.
Baby sleep schedule by age
Baby Sleep Schedule 2 Months
After two months with your baby, you’ll start to fall into a rhythm. You’ll generally know when your baby is awake and playful, and when he or she prefers to sleep. You certainly will know a rough number of naps your baby will take each day, and the hours usually spent sleeping. While 2-month-olds are still too young to follow a strict schedule, starting to establish a sleep schedule at this age will help foster healthy sleep habits.
Every baby’s sleep needs are different, but typically a 2-month-old sleeps a total of 14 to 17 hours a day, including 4 to 6 naps. Day-night confusion will be subsiding, and you may start to settle into a rough pattern of 60 to 90 minutes of awake time, followed by 30 minutes to 2 hours of napping.
Baby Sleep Schedule 3 Months
3-month-olds will start to show more stable and predictable sleep patterns, but keep in mind that your child’s daily routine will still continue to vary at this age.
A typical 3-month-old needs between 14 and 17 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, including three to four naps totaling four to six hours. However, it's also normal for 3-month-olds to sleep a little more or less than that. Your 3-month-old may sleep for longer stretches at night, possibly five hours (or even a bit more) at a time. Don’t panic if your little one is up more frequently, though — some babies still wake to eat every few hours at this stage.
Baby Sleep Schedule 4 Months
For many 4-month-olds, daytime sleep is less, and more hours are spent sleeping in their cribs at night. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, though, the dreaded 4 month sleep regression can arrive around this time. If you notice your baby doesn't sleep quite as much as he or she once did, that is because your baby is becoming more active and social, and increasingly interested in exploring the world. This will cause a little rift in your sleep schedule plans, but just stay consistent and patient, and things will be back to normal in no time.
Your little one’s routine will be more predictable at this age. A typical 4-month-old should get between 12 and 17 hours of sleep a day, including nighttime sleep and three or four naps. Still, every baby's sleep needs are different and it's normal if your child snoozes a little more or less than that. Your 4-month-old has a stronger grasp on day and night now and may be able to sleep for six to eight hours overnight (although, again, this varies).
Baby Sleep Schedule 5 Months
At 5 months your baby will be cooing, babbling and gurgling up a storm. Experimenting with sounds, speech, and rolling is your baby’s new entertainment. Playtime will become more interactive. Physically, your baby’s strength is more improved, and some baby teeth may start popping through. All these developmental changes will impact your baby’s sleep. Sleepless nights, early wakings, fussiness, marathon nap sessions — yeah, that’s all normal.
5-month-olds should sleep around 12 to 15 hours a day. That includes about 10 to 11 hours of solid nighttime snoozing (though they might still wake up a few times) and three naps that last 30 minutes to two hours each.
Baby Sleep Schedule 6 Months
At 6 months, babies are engaging with people through eye contact, smiles, giggles and lots of babbling. They may practice standing, squatting, rocking back and forth, and attempt to crawl. Your baby’s personality and sleep habits are developing.
Your 6-month-old should still be sleeping about 15 hours a day, fitting in two or three naps in addition to the 9 to 11 hours of sleep at night. If your baby is sleeping like a dream, and sticks to a schedule, congratulations — although it's perfectly normal if your 6-month-old's routine continues to be a little unpredictable, especially because the 6 month sleep regression can rear its ugly head.
Baby Sleep Schedule 7 Months
At 7 months, your little one is probably scooting around the house, chatting excessively in baby language, and all-around way more independent. Your baby’s desire for movement and exploration will be hard to juggle with the need for sleep. But don’t give up! Because your baby is growing like crazy, sticking to a sleep schedule is more important than ever!
Your 7-month-old should be sleeping about 14 hours a day, including two or three naps and nine to 11 hours at night. However, anywhere between 12 and 16 hours of sleep a day is considered normal. His sleep preferences will change as he grows, and you may notice him waking early, consolidating naps or wanting to stay up a little later. That’s normal, too.
Baby Sleep Schedule 8 Months
Your curious 8-month-old will probably be staying awake for longer stretches and sleeping longer at night, but will still need a lot of sleep overall to avoid becoming overtired or cranky. And sleep disruptions can still strike during this time, even for little ones who are normally pretty solid sleepers.
Most 8-month-olds sleep for around 14 hours within a 24-hour period, though anything between 12 to 16 hours is considered normal. Usually, babies this age can snooze for nine to 12 hours at night and three to four hours during the day. Daytime sleep is usually broken up into a morning and an afternoon nap.
Baby Sleep Schedule 9 Months
9-Month-old babies typically snooze for around 14 hours each day, though anywhere from 12 to 16 hours is normal. Your little one will likely log 10 to 12 hours of sleep at night, and there’s a good chance it’ll be uninterrupted: At this age, nearly 75 percent of babies sleep through the night. They also take two naps.
9-Month-olds are passing through some major milestones (crawling, talking, teething, etc.), and this will cause changes in their sleep patterns. Again, a regression can happen, so while naps and bedtime may have gotten predictable, you may also experience days (or weeks!) when your baby has a harder time settling to sleep. Hang in there, this too shall pass.
Baby Sleep Schedule 10 to 11 Months
By 10 months, it should be much easier for your baby to handle the 2 nap schedule without getting overtired. Your baby's sleep needs are probably pretty similar to what they were at 9 months. Your little one is likely snoozing for about 14 hours a day, although anywhere from 12 to 16 hours is within the realm of normal. Expect 10 to 12 hours of sleep at night along with two naps, each lasting somewhere between one and two hours.
Baby Sleep Schedule 12 Months
At 1 year old, your baby should get at least 13.5 hours of total sleep per day (11-12 hours at night and 2-3 hours of day sleep over 2 naps). Most children need 3-3.75 hours of awake time in between sleep periods at this age.
Don’t be alarmed if your child starts resisting naps. Nap regressions are common at this age. Rather than transitioning to one nap right now (which can lead to chronic over-tiredness and result in sleep issues), try stretching the awake windows out a bit longer in order to preserve the 2-nap schedule for a bit longer.
Tips for how to get baby on a sleep schedule
Know your own baby.
Since schedules can vary for each baby and for different ages, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with your baby’s sleep patterns and wake windows. Try keeping a sleep log to get an idea of when your baby usually naps or falls asleep at bedtime. Keep track of the amount of time your baby can handle being awake. All babies are different, so it’s important to study your own baby’s tendencies.
Watch for sleep cues.
Once you get a grasp for how often your baby is asleep or awake, you’ll want to keep an eye out for those sleepy cues right before it’s time to nap or go to bed. Sleepy cues can be anything from red eyebrows, to rubbing eyes, to pulling ears, or giving a blank stare. Maybe your little one is getting fussier or clingy. You’ll want to spot these signals early on, and get them to sleep (drowsy, but awake) before over-tiredness sets in. Once overtired, it will be harder for your baby to sleep, and even harder to stick to your schedule.
Set the stage for sleep.
Try to keep your baby’s sleep environment consistent (for both naps & bedtime) to encourage a sleep schedule. Always take your baby to the same, safe, sleep space everyday at the same time. The best place for your baby’s naps is in a crib (not in a car seat or bouncer). The crib should be placed in a dark, cool room, and your baby should be free from plush objects or loose blankets. Use an Ultimate 4-Season merino wool baby sleep bag to safely keep your baby covered and the perfect temperature, day or night, and year round. Following a little bedtime routine (even abbreviated for daytime naps) can help set the stage for sleep.
Follow a routine.
If we said it once, we’ll say it a thousand times — routines are CRUCIAL! A sleep routine consists of several sleep cues that communicate to your baby that it’s time to wind down. A sleep routine may involve a bottle, bath (even just a wipe down with a warm washcloth), pajamas, story or lullaby, sleep sack, and sound machine. Whatever you decide to use, be sure to stick to it. Use those same sleep cues, in the same order, for both daytime naps & bedtime. Your baby will start to associate them with sleep, and be able to stick to the sleep schedule.
Don’t fall for the catnap.
In the beginning, don’t be surprised if some naps are only 45 minutes at first. Your baby’s sleep cycles are pretty short. But as baby grows, and starts to establish some nap times, you’ll want to avoid the catnap. Don’t assume the nap is over if your baby wakes 35-40 min after being laid down. Stop, wait, and listen. Your baby may fall back asleep, and leaving them in that same sleep environment for a set amount of time will eventually communicate to your baby that it’s the time and place for sleep.
Time naps right.
Babies will have different sleep needs at different stages of their development. When they’re younger (4 to 6 months), they’ll need three naps a day, but once they’re older (7 to 8 months), they’ll be able to take less naps, but for longer stretches. You’ll want to make sure you’re providing them with enough opportunities for sleep in the day, and also ensure the last nap is not too long or too close to bedtime — inhibiting their ability to get to sleep at night. Make sure you get your baby down for those morning, afternoon, and evening naps at the right time, so you can stay on track for that eventual bedtime routine in the evening.
Give them a chance.
Naps take time!! Give your baby a chance to learn and adjust, and don’t set too high an expectation too soon. Don’t give up if it feels like you’re not getting anywhere. Babies can have one good day, and then a bad day the next, and that’s totally normal. Keep giving your little one the sleep setting and opportunity to sleep. And don’t compare your baby to other babies. You and your baby have to work together to find what works best.