Sleep Schedules and Training
Tips for establishing a sleeping schedule:
- The first step to any sleeping schedule is to establish a consistent bedtime routine.
- In fact, most parents will argue that the sleep schedule is far harder to establish than feeding. When it comes to feeding, most babies fall into a consistent routine until the three-meal-a-day solid foods are introduced. (For more information on how much your baby should be eating, read our age-by-age chart.)
- It’s also important to know just how much sleep your baby is supposed to be getting. Check in with our age-by-age guide for a basic outline, but you’ll probably start to notice a shift around six weeks. Your baby might go from one- to three-hour sleeping intervals around the clock to more clustered sleep periods in the day and a longer stretch at night. It’s easier to schedule once your baby falls into this routine.
- Even if you’re choosing a parent-led schedule, it’s always important to be in tune with your baby’s sleep signals, such as eye rubs, ear pulling and red eyes.
- In the newborn phase, your baby will most likely fall asleep whenever and wherever they please, which makes it almost impossible to schedule.
- But eventually you’ll notice that instead of his or her eyes fluttering closed, your baby will start fighting sleep, only to become cranky and overtired.
When to take a stance on what kind of scheduling method you’re most comfortable with:
- A parent-led routine would start thinking about sleep training at around four months, which is designed to help your baby learn to soothe him or herself to sleep. The logic is that if you keep assisting a baby in getting to sleep – whether it’s from rocking or nursing – then they will become dependent on that sleep aid.
- On the other hand, the baby-led “attachment parenting” philosophy believes that babies should be soothed (nursed, rocked, sung to, etc.) in order to help them peacefully fall asleep. In “attachment” parents’ opinion, it’s more important to create a peaceful, positive association with sleeping than simply sleeping through the night.
Whichever method you choose, it’s important to stay consistent. For instance, if you’re trying to teach your baby to soothe himself to sleep, then giving in and rocking him to sleep one night will only confuse him. If you respond to his cries sometimes, but not others, he might become frantic when you don’t.
From here, follow the advice of one of our three routine methods: parent-led, baby-led or a combination schedule.
For an idea of how much your baby should be sleeping, check out our Feeding and Sleeping Chart.