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Establish Baby’s Sleep Routine

Sleep can be one of the most challenging aspects of having a baby. New parents can lose up to 50 nights worth of sleep during their baby’s first year – so it’s no surprise that new parents are eager to improve their baby’s sleep habits. Establishing a sleep routine for your baby can help you and your baby get more restful sleep at more predictable times. 

When can I get my baby into a sleep routine?

During the Fourth Trimester (0-3 months) your baby’s sleep is likely to be unpredictable as they try to adjust to life outside the womb. After 3 months you can start to introduce a simple sleep routine that can help your baby to recognise when it’s time to relax and get ready for sleep. Babies thrive on routine, it helps them to make sense of their world and feel secure so establishing a sleep routine early can save lots of upset and overtired tantrums (from both of you!).

When can I get my baby into a sleep routine?

Before you can plan a sleep schedule for your baby, you need to know what is realistic for their age. Keep in mind that all babies are different, there’s no schedule that will work for every baby. 

  • Newborn babies (0-3 months) will need to sleep an average of 14.5 hours over 24 hours, waking every 2-4 hours for feeding. 
  • Babies 3-6 months old need about 12-14 hours of sleep over 24 hours.
  • 6-9 month old babies can sleep about 10-11 hours at night, with 3 naps throughout the day lasting about 1-2 hours. 
  • By 9-12 months old, your baby can sleep about 10-12 hours per night, with 2 daytime naps lasting about 1.5-2 hours each. Avoid naps in the late afternoon to make sure your baby is tired at bedtime. 
  • By 12-18 months old, they need about 11-12 hours per night with one daytime nap lasting about 2 hours. 

How to establish your sleep routines

Follow a bedtime routine

Having a consistent bedtime routine will signal to your baby that it’s time for sleep. Include the basics like nappy changing, getting changed into pyjamas and a feed. You can then include any activities that your baby finds soothing, such as a bath, a massage, cuddles or reading a book together. Use a shorter version of your bedtime routine for naptimes like a feed and a book.

Teach them the difference between day and night

Your baby is not born with the natural rhythms that we have, so they don’t automatically sleep at night and wake in the morning. You can help your baby to understand the difference between day and night by exposing them to plenty of light and noise during the day and keeping their environment dark and quiet at night. Don’t feel the need to tip-toe around the house during naptimes, household sounds will help signal to your baby that this is the time for shorter periods of sleep. Also, avoid blackout blinds for naptime as this can be confusing to your baby’s developing body clock. Then at night, keep lights and sounds low – signalling to your baby that this is a more relaxed time for sleeping.

Set up the environment

For bedtime, set up a tranquil space free from distractions and stimulation so your baby can relax during their bedtime routine. Keep lights low, noises to a minimum and stay away from anything that might stimulate your baby like your phone or a TV. For naptime, create an environment that’s easy to replicate outside your home. If your baby can only nap in their crib they will struggle to sleep anywhere outside of your home. 

Know your baby's sleep patterns

Recognise your baby’s sleep cues so you can recognise when they start to become sleepy throughout the day. Allowing your baby to become overtired will inhibit their ability to relax into a deep and restful sleep. 

Embrace routine throughout the rest of your day

Your baby enjoys the predictability of routines, so creating a routine for feeding, daily activities and other daily tasks will leave your baby feeling relaxed and secure. 

Keep flexibility in mind

Flexibility is especially important for scheduling naptimes. Making variations on time and environment will help your baby to have their naps wherever you are throughout the day. This prevents you from being stuck at home because your baby can’t have their naps anywhere else, or sacrificing a nap for the sake of an outing. 

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