16 Sleep tips: ages 0-12 months… if you’re into schedules

I love lovies
I love lovies

Baby not sleeping as long as you think he can? Baby waking up way too early in the morning? Here are my biggest takeaways from the first year of sleep meets Bailey….this post may not be for the faint of heart when it comes to planning sleep.

  1. Baby is probably the easiest to go out with for the first 6-8 weeks of life, of course mama may not be so excited about going out at that point in birth recovery, but seriously try to take advantage of bringing baby out to dinner, brunch, lunch, whatever! Ok, that wasn’t a sleep tip exactly, but still worth mentioning!
  2. Reflux can cause sleep issues early on in life. If baby gets hiccups a lot, spits up a lot, arches her back after or during nursing/drinking; and wakes up screaming periodically and seems to settle when more vertical….you could be dealing with reflux. Getting an antacid prescription from the ped and/or modifying your diet or formula can buy you more hours of sleep. Other tips include a) keep baby upright for 20 minutes after nursing/feeding b) burp baby often while nursing/feeding c) elevate one side of the bassinet/crib d) let baby take naps in a baby rocker or swing so they are more upright
  3. Around 4-5 months, baby’s sleep develops into more of an adult pattern meaning they have lighter periods of sleep and may stop falling asleep anywhere/when they need sleep. This can lead to overtired fussy babies that wake up more and more thru the night and drive parents bonkers with sleep deprivation!
  4. If you swaddle and the baby starts breaking out of the swaddle, learn the double swaddle technique. It looks kinda crazy, but It is Awesome.

    The double swaddle in action
    The double swaddle in action
  5. Once you’ve hit month 4/5, keeping baby on a sleep schedule for naps and bedtime can really help consolidate night time sleep and do away with early wake ups….here is a good chart to keep in mind from the Baby Whisperer:

    Awake time for babies
    Newborn 50-60 mins
    1 month 60 mins-hour and 15
    2 months 1 hour and 15 – 20 mins
    3 months 1 hour and 20 – 30 mins
    4 months 1 hour and 45 – 2 hours
    5 months 2 hours – 2.30 hours
    Late 5 months/early 6 months 2.25-3 hours
    6.5 – 7 months 2.75-3.15 hours. Some are getting more.
    8 – 10 months 3 – 4 hours. Some are getting more.
    11 – 12 months 3.5 -4.5 hours. Some are getting more if moved early to 1 nap***Remember these are guidelines, NOT rules, so if you feel that your baby is not yet ready for these A times, please do not force them, as this will cause further problems. PLUS, if the wake time is 2 hours, that means baby should be asleep at the 2 hour mark not getting ready to go to sleep.***

  6. At that 4/5 mo mark, aim for 3 naps a day. Naps are more restorative if they’re an hour or longer. Though the third nap is often a shorter cat nap.
  7. As the first year goes on, you may want to aim for naps around 10am and 1/2pm.
  8. If you think they’re waking up because of teething pain, give them ibuprofen! They will sleep, therefore you will sleep!
  9. 6 months or later: If baby is waking up crazy early in the morning and/or waking up crying multiple times during the night it may be a sure sign of being overtired. You may want to move bedtime earlier and get that nap routine more tightened up. The other totally random culprit for early wake ups is if the morning nap is too close to waking up for the day. A combo of an early bedtime and then extending the awake time before the first nap can help iron out the issue.
  10. Any schedule change can take 3-5 days to make a difference.
  11. If it’s a growth spurt, you are screwed – a lot of babies want to eat more during the night and you should probably help them out. This rule of thumb applies until you have them pretty solid on solids 🙂 However, a growth spurt usually lasts 3-5 days.
  12. It’s ok to let them cry a little before going to them at night – they might just resettle on their own! Oh, and once you’re past the swaddling stage, give your baby a lovie. It will help them self soothe to sleep.
  13. CIO does not work for everyone. Before you try it after your ped and all your friends tell you that you have to do it, at least read Ferber’s book first so you can read about how SCHEDULE is just as important!
  14. Read Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby. And visit www.babywhispererforums.com for lots of useful tips
  15. If you’re lucky, you will have a good sleeper and you won’t need to use any of these tips. BUT just remember that it’s totally normal for babies to not sleep through the night even at a year. You are not alone! But hopefully, you are not in this club…
  16. My kid has been going to bed between 6pm and 7pm since he was 7 months old. If he goes to bed later than that, he wakes up multiple times a night and much earlier in the morning. It’s because his naps are on the shorter side. Before I had a kid, I thought this was crazy talk. But really, I’ve tried a later bedtime and it does not work! If it’s not working for you, give in and move bedtime earlier!
The super cute sleep days
The super cute sleep days

p.s. who knew I would read so many books and be so crazy about sleep?? I’m a terrible planner, but I seriously love my sleep. So these tips are really all about my own self preservation! B might not be the best sleeper, but he’s not the worst. And he sure is happy most of the time!

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2 thoughts on “16 Sleep tips: ages 0-12 months… if you’re into schedules

  1. Thanks for those insightful tips. What do you recommend I do with my 8 1/2 month old. To settle her at night, she has to nurse. And with all the teething, she doesn’t want to let go of my breast? At 4 months old she started sleeping through the night and just settled herself when I put her down. That only lasted about 2 months.

    1. Welcome Benadetta! First I want to say that in my opinion nursing baby to sleep at bedtime is not a problem….as long as you are certain it’s not a sleep aid. If your LO is waking up crying at night and won’t resettle without a boob in her mouth (aka comfort nursing), then you may want to work on that. Here are some options 1) co-sleep: this really didn’t work for me because Bailey moves around too much and he would nurse ALL night long. Ugh! 2) Have your partner try to go in and soothe baby for a few nights. Sometimes, baby will resettle for someone else faster because that somebody doesn’t smell like milk. After a week or so, you may be able to take over the resettling role 3) The Elizabeth Pantley removal method – this is where you nurse baby and as she resettles, you gently try to swap out your nipple for a finger or a pacifier. You can also insert your finger into the corner of her mouth to pop her off and then sort of hold her jaw shut once she’s off you…this method can require a lot of repetition but can be really successful and over time they essentially wean off of the behavior. EP has a book too. 4) See if she’ll take a pacifier and also give her a little blankie or lovie if you haven’t already. 4) try dream meds if you really think it’s teeth – dose her before bed and then again when she cries in the middle of the night (as long as it’s the recommended number of hours later.)

      One last thought, is she overtired? If she is waking up crying before midnight, it can be a sign of being overtired. Make sure you have a solid nap schedule and maybe consider bringing bedtime earlier – even to 6pm. According to the Baby Whisperer, the average 8/9 month old needs 2 naps a day (1-2 hours each) and 10-12 hours of sleep a night. You have to subtract out any and all awake time that happens due to night wakings when you count up how your baby is doing.

      If you want, you can post an average schedule here and I can see if anything else sticks out to me. GL mama, sleep needs are changing all the time at this age.

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