All the buzz words around a baby’s sleep can be overwhelming to say the least. Scheduling a baby is such a modern concept. You have probably heard from older parents and grandparents things such as “Never wake a sleeping baby”, “They will let you know when they need to sleep” etc. Keeping track of wake windows, naps and feeds especially on an app was unheard of until recently. However times have changed and the modern parent and baby absolutely thrive on a sleep schedule and routine!
As a nanny, doula and mom, I STRONGLY believe in baby schedules with flexibility. A rigid baby schedule is going to be unnatural, unattainable and set you and your baby up for failure. But following a flexible baby schedule that sets approximate times for feeding and sleep can be a lifesaver and work very well. This can bring peace, fulfillment, and restful sleep to both baby and parent.
However, starting to try to put a baby on schedule when they are freshly earthside can be a daunting task in already uncharted territory. Newborns don’t crave schedules, they don’t even have their days and nights straight just yet! I recommend starting to lean into a schedule when your baby is about a month old or until feeding is going SUPER well whether breastfeeding or bottlefeeding. That is truly the first step in being ready for a schedule.
Your baby will start to establish a schedule all on their own somewhat and you will start to pick up on their hunger and sleep cues. Typically feeding times get established first and then you can work into a sleep schedule from there. My favorite baseline schedule to follow is “Eat, Play, Sleep!” The idea with this routine is when your baby wakes up from a nap or night time sleep, you feed them and then play with them and then when it’s time, you put them down for sleep again. Wake windows (that is the time from when a baby wakes to when they need to sleep again) can depend greatly on the baby-but using their age is a great place to start. For example, Elise suggests for newborns that the wake windows are 30-45mins, with 5 or more naps a day. This is also when the baby should be getting between 14-18hours of sleep TOTAL per 24hr period. Elise uses a very similar approach for children throughout 2yrs old and says that starting this process/earlier the easier it will be to begin formal sleep training when your baby is around 4-5months.
A sleep routine is also extremely helpful in getting your baby on a schedule even when they are in the first month. A simple routine such as dimming the lights, reading a book, white noise on, sleep sack on and night night! White noise is great for babies and the ideal white noise actually mimics the loud rumbly sounds baby heard in the womb. I am a big fan of using Amazon’s Alexa for this because you can use it for so many other things throughout the day as well! I know some parents add a massage or a bath to a sleep routine, this is another great way to relax the baby. You will find what works best for you and your baby with time.
Being a new parent or caregiver to a brand new baby is a joyous, overwhelming time! Helping your baby get on a schedule can really help bring some peace to your lives. Don’t forget to also ask for help when you need it, having additional nannies or postpartum doulas during this time can be a lifesaver.
Article written by: Jordan Ramirez
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