What is a Sleep/ Nap Routine?
A Baby Routine is a rough guide of the times of the day when your baby should be sleeping. They can be a very useful tool for planning your day and also come very handy when working on nap extensions, or when trying to limit day time sleep in order to improve night settling.
Baby Sleep Routines should be age appropriate as their wake windows change as they grow up, so I have created age appropriate routine guides, which you can download or print from this page.
Bedtime routine is important for both day and night sleep. It should be a simple and quick in order for you to be able to replicate it for both night time and naps in the cot. You could read a book, or sing a lullaby in a dimly lit room, then dree your baby in their PJs and put them in a sleeping bag. It doesn't have to me any more complicated than that. It doesn't need to include bath every night, and also I suggest splitting the night feed into two parts. Giving the bigger part of the milk feed before the start of the bedtime routine and the second half right before putting your little one in the cot. Bedtime routines are a great tool to help your baby know that the bedtime is coming. And if you were wondering when is the good time to start the bedtime routine, I suggest starting it as early as 6 weeks.
When to start a bedtime routine?
You can start a bedtime routine early on, and it doesn't have to change much as your baby grows up. The bedtime routine for a 3 month old could be pretty much the same as the bedtime routine for a 6 month old. Even though it might seem that your baby us not interested in books at this age, it is a good foundation to put early on and a good habit for your little one to have as they grow up.
Newborn Sleep Routine
Newborns require between 16 and 20 hours of sleep per day. Therefore it is hard to establish a specific routine at this age as their wake windows are as short as 30 minutes. The best way is to stick to Sleep --> Feed --> Play/Digest cycles. In order to establish the nigh routine early on, do not do the play part of the cycle, and put them back down after burping. The most common issue with newborn sleep is them not wanting to lay in their cot or waking up too often. If your baby is refusing to sleep anywhere other than your arms, checkout out article on "How to Improve Newborn Sleep".
4-5 Month Old Baby Sleep Routine
At around 4-5 months old you can put a proper nap and bedtime sleep schedule. Even if you are in the middle of a 4 month sleep regression it might be a good idea to wait until it's over you can try on working on having a consistent nap times. At this age is it common to only have catnaps lasting around 30-45 minutes, so don't get discouraged if your baby is refusing a 2 hour nap. You might have to add another nap in the day to allow them to get enough daytime sleep. In order to work on that nap extension, keep resettling your baby after they've woke up form their first 45 minute cycle. Taking them for a nap at the right time and making sure the are not overtired also plays a very important role in nap extension and ensuring your baby has a good long nap.
6-8 Month Old Baby Sleep Routine
At this age you might find that they are effortlessly having longer nap times, but you might also still be struggling with catnapping. In case your baby loves sleep too much, keep track of their daytime sleep and wake them up if necessary in order not to impact night time. Also they tend to least new trick at this age, like sitting or standing up, which means that it can take them a bit longer to fall asleep even if they can self-settle. Wake windows at this age are getting slightly longer, and you would expect to have around 2 long naps and one Power Nap closer to their bedtime.
At around 8 months babies also develop concept of object permanence. Meaning, that they are aware of your existence, when out of their sight.
This development can cause separation anxiety, and you might suddenly find that your baby gets very upset when you leave the room.
It is very common and totally normal, but you might need a bit more help at this stage in order to get your Sleep back on track.
Below is a version of a sleep routine for 6-8 month old babies. However, if you need more help with a general sleep solution or simply want to be able to create and adjust a flexible routine yourself our Online Course can help you with that.
It also provides a range or routines for different nap lengths, clear guide on Dropping Naps, Nap Extensions and reducing Night wakes. You can see the full course structure here.
9-15 Month Old Baby Sleep Routine
At this age babies transition into toddlers, which can mean new sleep patterns. They still can get too excited for their new skills, and some starts communicating with heir parents with simple words and sounds.
Having a routine at this age is essential (if you have managed to last this long without one). As toddler brain loves predictability, and if something "unexpected" happens it can cause a tantrum and they can end up fighting bedtime. Make sure that at this age you spend time notifying them that the bedtime is approaching, as they do not understand the concept of time yet.
You can also expect some setbacks or a sleep regression at around the 12 month mark, as your baby learns to stand and walk. They might get excited to practice their skills at bedtime rather than going to bed.
Key thing to keep an eye on at this age is to avoid returning to your old settling methods. If your baby doesn’t want to lay down as soon as you put them in their cot I suggest giving them some practice time.
The temptation might be height to start rocking or feeding you baby to sleep again, if order to reduce those settling times. But in the long run it can lead to many sleep issues such as frequent night wakes or early wakes.
Already ended up with one of those? Not to worry. Our Online Courses are here to help you get back on track.
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