Newborns have an irregular sleeping pattern that can be tiring for new parents. Most newborns sleep for 15-16 hours a day. But their sleep pattern can be quite random.
Babies do not sleep for more than 2-3 hours at a stretch both during the day or night time. They take a break for feed and nappy change. All this can put undue pressure on new parents and quite literally drive us crazy. Thus, developing a sleep schedule for newborns is very important.
How Early Can You Start a Sleep Schedule?
Babies become ready for a sleep schedule once they are 2-4 months of age. This is the time when their sleep pattern becomes more consistent and predictable.
If you find that your baby’s sleep pattern becomes predictable early on, then you can start the sleep schedule sooner than that. The mother’s common sense and gut feeling play a crucial role in developing a sleep schedule for the baby.
What Are the Different Types of Sleep Schedules?
- Baby-led Schedule: Here, the parents closely watch the baby’s sleep cues and put them to sleep accordingly. Parents who follow this pattern do not believe in imposing their routine on the baby. They patiently understand the baby’s behavior and put them to sleep whenever they are sleepy.
This type of sleeping schedule does not have any routine. The schedule changes as and when the baby’s sleeping pattern changes.
- Parent-led Schedule: Here, the baby’s sleeping schedule is prepared by the parents after closely watching the baby for a few days. The parents will decide what time the baby will go to bed and what time they wake up. This type of schedule is a bit strict as the baby has to follow the pattern as set by the parents. But the advantage of this schedule is that the pattern becomes predictable for the baby. This provides a secure feeling to them.
- Combination Schedule: This schedule is a combination of both baby-led and parent-led schedule. Here the parent will decide the time the baby goes to sleep and wake up. But if the baby is not tired and is in a playful mood, then the parent is ready to push the sleep time.
How to Develop a Sleep Schedule for Your Baby?
- Observe your baby’s sleep pattern: You should carefully observe the baby and figure out when the baby goes to deep sleep. You should start the routine at least one hour before sleep time. E.g., if your baby goes to sound sleep by 9 p.m., then you should begin the sleep routine at least by 8:30 p.m.
- Slowly introduce sleep rituals at night: Once you figure out the baby’s sleep pattern, you can start introducing the sleep rituals. The usual sleep rituals that are followed include bathing the baby in lukewarm water, feeding the baby and singing for the baby. You can even switch on white noise to help the baby sleep.
- Introduce the rituals during daytime nap: Once the baby gets used to the sleep rituals at night, you can introduce a few of them during day time as well. For eg; if you sing a certain song to put the baby to sleep at night, the same song can be sung during daytime as well. This way, the baby associates the song to sleep time. A solid daytime nap routine can be the key to train your baby to sleep in the crib.
- Be consistent: Always try to put the baby to sleep at the same time and same place every day. If the baby is comfortable sleeping in the crib, you should put her to sleep in it. Place the crib in a dark and cool room so that the baby can sleep peacefully. Also sticking to the same time everyday helps baby to doze off easily.
- Deal wisely with catnaps: Some babies wake up after 30 minutes of sleep time during day. Instead of waking the baby fully, you should wait and observe whether the baby will go back to sleep. If you do not disturb her, there is greater chance that the baby will go back to sleep again.
What Are the Things to Keep in Mind While Developing a Sleep Schedule?
- You should not be too rigid with the sleep schedule as it can make you tired and irritated at times.
- You should be ready to make changes to the schedule to accommodate the growing requirements of the baby. For eg; you might sing a lullaby for your 4-month-old baby. But once the baby is 15 months, you should stop singing lullaby and switch over to stories.
- Try to maintain consistency in the routine as it helps the baby to adjust fast.
- Make sure that all the basic necessities of the baby is taken care of before putting them to sleep.
Sleep is highly important for the overall development of the baby. Having a sleep schedule not only helps the baby but also provides the parents with some quality break time. As parents, it is your responsibility to build a rhythm in the baby’s sleeping pattern so that the baby enjoys sleep time.