How To Get Your Baby On A Schedule

How To Get Baby On a Schedule

Scheduling is a hot topic on The Baby Sleep Site®! We have a variety of sample baby sleep and feeding schedules, but how do you get your baby on a sleep or nap schedule, anyway? Having the template in front of you is one thing; getting your baby to follow it is quite another!

In this article, we’ll lay out tips for how to get your baby on a schedule, and break them down by age. That’s simply because your strategy for implementing your baby’s nap schedule will be highly dependent your baby’s age.

How To Get Your 2 or 3 Month Old Baby On A Schedule

Your 2 or 3 month old is nowhere near ready for a by-the-clock schedule (at least, most aren’t), so it’s best not to try for one. If you push for a clock-based schedule too soon, you run the risk of keeping your baby awake too long between some naps, and that can lead to overtiredness, which in turn will make both naps and nights rough. So, it’s best just to watch your baby’s cues and put her down as soon as she seems sleepy. You can begin to work towards some predictability by setting one or two fixed points in your baby’s day, but avoid trying for too many. Similarly, you can begin to work on helping your baby fall asleep without sleep associations, by putting her down slightly awake for one or possibly two naps.

How To Get Your 4 Month Old Baby On A Schedule

Your 4 month old baby will have limited ability to be on a true by-the-clock schedule. Your best way to add predictability and structure to your day is to follow more of a routine, rather than a schedule. Your routine may be something like eat-play-sleep, like Babywise (even if you don’t use all its ideas), or something unique you create for your unique baby. Predictability not only helps you plan your day, but for some babies, particularly slow-to-adapt babies, it helps them feel more secure. On the other hand, some parents prefer to simply follow baby’s cues at this age, and not worry about a clock-based schedule at this point. Find what works for you and, most importantly, your baby.

How To Get Your 5, 6, or 7 Month Old Baby

Around 5, 6 or 7 months old, some babies can begin to get on more of a clock schedule. 6 months in particular is a good age to start working towards a predictable schedule, as this is when your baby’s sleep will start to consolidate, and naps may start to lengthen. However, it’s still a good idea to keep a good bit of flexibility build into your baby’s schedule. For example, a 5 to 7 month old may routinely take her nap around 9 a.m., but on any particular day, when she’s possibly working on a Wonder Week developmental leap or more active that day, she may need to go to sleep earlier than normal. It is often best to watch the clock AND your baby, in this age group. To put your 5, 6, or 7 month old on a schedule, you want to move slowly in extending their awake period until your baby can comfortably get to your target nap or sleep schedule. For tips on what ideal wake times look like, between naps, check out our baby nap chart.

How To Get Your 8, 9, or 10 Month Old Baby On A Schedule

Your 8, 9, or 10 month old can often be on a more regular and predictable schedule, but remember this age group is prone to the 8-9-10 month old sleep regression. For babies sensitive to being over-tired, though, you probably don’t want to be TOO rigid with your baby’s schedule. Being too rigid may land you into a cycle of chronic over-tiredness, which is sometimes hard to break. And, if bedtime is a little too late, the schedule may work wonderfully for weeks and then BAM, one “off” day sets you into a downward spiral (this can happen at any age, actually). To put your 8, 9 or 10 month old on a schedule, you’ll want to extend their awake period, just like your 5 or 6 month old, but you may be able to go a bit faster.

How To Get Your 11 or 12 Month Old Baby On A Schedule

Your 11 or 12 month old will likely have gotten on their own schedule, even if you didn’t mean for it to happen. Most babies will begin to fall into a fairly regular pattern, even if it’s not identical every day. Inconsistent babies tend to start “smoothing” out at this age, even if they aren’t strictly “consistent.” If you are still napping and setting bedtime based on sleepy cues, you may feel frustrated, if your baby/toddler is not napping long enough and still catnapping during the day. Some babies are “good” about sleepy cues and sleeping well based on them, while others need more structure and direction from you. Not enough awake time can wreak havoc in this age group. To put your baby/toddler on a nap sleep schedule, take one for a test drive to see how your little one responds. Different babies need different schedules. That’s why we offer a wide variety of sample schedules in our Mastering Naps and Schedules book.

How To Get Your Toddler On A Schedule

Of all age groups, a toddler’s schedule is often one of the easiest to achieve. As long as your toddler is napping independently and can nap long enough, your toddler will fall into a predictable schedule. You can set the schedule based on the clock and, generally, will get a good night’s sleep and a good nap out of him. Granted, over-tiredness can still lead to shorter naps or night-waking or your baby waking too early, but if you follow a standard 5 hours awake before and after the nap, most toddlers should do pretty well.

For more help in getting your baby or toddler on a healthy, age-appropriate schedule, check out these great Members Area resources:

Baby and Toddler Schedule Help from The Baby Sleep Site

 
Baby_On_Computer_RESIZEDIf you are looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation, and want plenty support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations. Your consultation package will provide you with the chance to interact one-on-one with a trained sleep consultant, who will create a Personalized Sleep Plan™ for your family and then work to help you implement it at home.
 
bss_email_featprod_memberspic-CROPPEDOur Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! As a member, you’ll also enjoy a weekly chat with an expert sleep consultant. And the best part – members receive 20% off all sleep consultation services!
 
Essential Keys to Newborn Sleep Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep is THE newborn sleep book that will help you to not only improve your newborn’s sleep using gentle, sleep-inducing routines – it will also answer your feeding and newborn care questions. You can even buy a bundle package that includes the e-book AND a Personalized Sleep Plan™ PLUS a follow-up email to use for further support!
 
 
bss_ebook_masteringnaps_leftIf you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 45 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style.
 

Need help knowing where to start? Visit our Help Me Choose page for helping choosing the Baby Sleep Site® resources that are right for you.

Have baby scheduling questions or tips? Ask away – we’ll answer!

3 Month Old Baby Sleep and Feeding Schedule

 
3 Month Old Baby Sleep Feeding Schedule
 
This article outlines 3 month old sleep and feeding tips, as well as sample schedules for your 3 month old baby.

Skip to the schedules

3 Month Old Baby Sleep

At 3 months, your baby is past the newborn stage – quite a milestone! Your baby has been doing a lot of growing and developing in the last 12 weeks, so he no doubt looks and behaves quite differently now than he did when you first brought him home from the hospital.

By 3 months old, your baby’s sleep may have started to regulate itself slightly – you may notice that your baby is starting to sleep longer stretches at night, and to have more wake time during the day – this is a great sign (although if that’s not happening, don’t worry – by no means is it standard for all babies to sleep well at 3 months old!).

3 Month Old Baby Feeding

Your baby will likely also start to consolidate feedings by 3 months old. Your baby’s stomach capacity is considerably larger now than it was in the early days and weeks after birth, so your 3 month old baby will likely be able to go for longer stretches between feedings. You may also find that your baby feeds more frequently during the day and is beginning to drop night feedings (although again, if this isn’t the case for you – don’t worry. That’s normal, too!). Do remember, though, that if you are breastfeeding, you’ll want to continue to breastfeed at least every few hours during the day, and your baby will continue to need night feedings at this age, most likely.

If your baby is still waking frequently at 3 months old, you may start to feel like you need to introduce solid food, in order to help your baby sleep. However, keep in mind that starting solids doesn’t usually improve sleep, and 3 months old is still considered too young to begin solid food. It’s best to stick exclusively with breastmilk or formula, unless your healthcare provider indicates you should do otherwise.


Sample 3 Month Old Sleep and Feeding Schedule

Breastfed 3 Month Old Baby
7:00 — Wake (*Fixed Point)
8:00 — Feed
8:30 — Nap (*Fixed Point)
9:00 — Wake and Feed
11:00 — Feed and Nap
1:00 — Wake and Feed
2:00 — Nap
2:30 — Wake and Feed
4:30 — Feed and Nap
6:30 — Feed
7:00 — Catnap
9:00 — Feed and Bedtime (*Fixed Point)
10:30 — Fill-Up Feed (Fill-Up Feeds should always take place at Mom’s
bedtime, so mom gets a long stretch of sleep; be sure to use breast
compressions at bedtime and night feedings)
+ 1-3 night feedings

* – we recommend you make these fixed points in your baby’s schedule. You can read more about this in our article on fixed points in a baby schedule.

 
Formula-Fed 3 Month Old Baby
7:00 — Wake and Feed (*Fixed Point)
8:30 — Nap (*Fixed Point)
10:00 — Wake and Feed
11:30 — Nap
1:00 — Wake and Feed
2:30 — Nap
3:30 — Wake
4:00 — Feed
4:30 — Catnap
5:00 — Wake
6:00 — Feed
6:30 — Nap
9:00 — Feed and Bedtime (*Fixed Point)
11:00 — Fill-Up Feed
+ 1 or possibly 2 night feedings

* – we recommend you make these fixed points in your baby’s schedule. You can read more about this in our article on fixed points in a baby schedule.
 

Note: This schedule follows the eat-play-sleep routine, however, it is sometimes hard to do at this age when the amount of time between naps is not long enough and your baby wakes too early from his nap because of a feeding.

Need Baby and Toddler Sleep Help? We Have the Resources You Need!

bss_ebook_masteringnaps_leftIf you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 45 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style.

 
bss_ebook_3stepsystem_leftFor those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night.
 

bss_email_featprod_memberspic-CROPPEDOr, join our Members Area packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! As a member, you’ll also enjoy a weekly chat with an expert sleep consultant. And the best part – members receive 20% off all sleep consultation services!

Baby_On_Computer_RESIZEDIf you are looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation, and want plenty support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations. Your consultation package will provide you with the chance to interact one-on-one with a trained sleep consultant, who will create a Personalized Sleep Plan™ for your family and then work to help you implement it at home.
 

Can’t decide which product or service is right for you? Visit our Getting Started Page for help.

*******************************************************************************************
bss_ebook_freeguide_leftWant FREE sleep help that you can put to use right away? Download a copy of our free guide, 5 Ways To Help Your Child Sleep Through The Night! The guide is available to download instantly, which means you can start using the techniques in it as early as tonight. So download now, and learn why your baby is waking at night – and what you can do about it.
 
 
Click here to learn more about how to get your free guide.

A better night’s sleep could be just a few clicks away. So don’t wait – download now, and start your journey to better sleep tonight!
*******************************************************************************************

What is your 3 month old baby’s routine?

How To Put Your Baby or Toddler On A Schedule

 
How To Put Your Baby or Toddler On A Schedule

Sure, we’ve got a ton of helpful sample sleep and feeding schedules by age on our site – but since your baby or toddler presumably can’t read yet, how are you supposed to get your child to, you know, actually follow one of these sample schedules?

Having a schedule is all well and good, but how do you get your child’s day to match said schedule?

Fear not, parents – we here at The Baby Sleep Site® are known for our awesome scheduling help. And in today’s article, we bring that scheduling help to you! Read on to learn how you can gently help your baby or toddler follow a predictably daily schedule.

How To Put Your Newborn Baby On A Schedule

Remember that when it comes to newborns, you have to use the word ‘schedule’ loosely. Your definitely don’t want to try for a clock-based schedule with your newborn – instead, you want to think in terms of shaping a loose schedule that’s based more on routine and ordering your baby’s activities than it is on the clock. You’ll also watch your baby’s sleep and hunger cues carefully – they are the single best indicator of what your baby needs.

In order to promote healthy sleep habits, we usually recommend an eat-play-sleep schedule: you feed your baby, engage him in an activity (like reading a book, playing with a soft toy, etc.) and then put him down for a nap. While it’s not based on fixed feeding and sleep times, this rhythm will support the timed schedules that come later. You can also work towards helping your baby learn to fall asleep alone by putting him down slightly awake for at least one nap of the day.

Once your baby is about 8 or 10 weeks old, you can start working in one or two fixed points into the daily schedule. This will be a step towards a schedule that’s clock-based.

See our sample newborn sleep and feeding schedules, or check out our e-book on newborn sleep, Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep.

How To Put Your 4 Month Old Baby On A Schedule

By 4 months, your baby still isn’t ready for a strict schedule, but you can work towards a semi-clock based schedule by 4 months. You’ll still want to focus mainly on establishing strong routines, as you did in the newborn stage, but you can work towards plugging in more fixed points into your baby’s schedule – at this age, the first morning and first afternoon naps make good fixed points, as well as morning wake-time and bedtime.

You can also work towards establishing strong sleep-time and bedtime routines at this age. Start by creating a predictable, consistent bedtime routine. Later on, you’ll do a mini-version of this routine at nap time.

Keep in mind that the 4 month sleep regression usually strikes at this time, and that will throw off your baby’s sleep in a big way

See our sample 4 month sleep and feeding schedules for more information, or perhaps consider becoming a Baby Sleep Site® member. Our Members Area provides you access to over 50 sample schedules by age.

How To Put Your 5, 6, or 7 Month Old Baby On A Schedule

You can start moving to a by-the-clock schedule at this point, if you want to (although if you’re more of a go-with-the-flow parent, you certainly don’t need a rigid schedule!). By 6 months, most babies are eating solid foods, so you can start to carve out more fixed “meal” times and sleep times. Naps will also start to consolidate, for most babies, around 6 months or so, so it may be easier to have a predictable, timed nap schedule at this age.

As for how to get your 5, 6, or 7 month old baby onto your desired schedule – you will simply extend your baby’s awake time between naps (do this VERY gradually), until your baby’s naps line up with the scheduled times.

Still, plan to be flexible – while your baby’s schedule may become more predictable overall, there will still no doubt be days when your little one throws you for a loop! And often, when you try to force a rigid schedule too soon, you end up focusing on the clock instead of on your baby’s cues, which leads to a cycle of overtiredness.

See 5 month, 6 month, and 7 month sample sleep and feeding schedules here. Or, consider purchasing a copy of Mastering Naps & Schedules, the e-book designed to solve your persistent nap challenges!

How To Put Your 8, 9, or 10 Month Old Baby On A Schedule

For this stage, you’ll do the same thing you did above – you’ll gradually increase your baby’s awake time until it lines up with the 2-nap schedule you’re working towards. In general, it becomes easier to achieve a clock-based schedule at this age, simply because by this time, your baby is most likely down to just 2 naps per day, and you’re out of that “hamster wheel” of constant nap transitions that you experienced in your baby’s first 6 months of life. From here on out, your baby will have 2 naps per day for quite awhile, until she transitions to 1 nap in early toddlerhood.

Do keep in mind, though, that your baby will go through the 8/9/10 month sleep regression during this time, and that will likely mean set-backs with any schedule progress you make.

See sample 8 month, 9 month, and 10 month sleep and feeding schedules here. Or, if you’re continuing to struggle with getting your baby on a predictable schedule, you may want to consider a personalized sleep consultation with one of our expert consultants.

How To Put Your 11 or 12 Month Old Baby On A Schedule

By now, even the most unpredictable babies tend to fall into SOME kind of regular daily schedule – even if it’s not the schedule you intended! 😉 At this age, it’s actually best to start paying more attention to the clock – and it’s also best if you focus on extending your baby’s awake time. While young babies need short wake time in order to ward off over tiredness, at this stage, you’ll probably need to focus on extending your child’s wake time to ensure that your baby’s bedtime doesn’t get too late. It’s especially important to make sure that the afternoon nap isn’t too late in the day.

See sample 11 month and 12 month sleep and feeding schedules here.

How To Put Your Toddler On A Schedule

Of all age groups, a toddler’s schedule is often one of the easiest to achieve. As long as your toddler is napping independently and can nap long enough, your toddler will fall into a predictable schedule. You can set the schedule based on the clock and, generally, will get a good night’s sleep and a good nap out of him. Granted, over-tiredness can still lead to shorter naps or night-waking or your baby waking too early, but if you follow a standard 5 hours awake before and after the nap, most toddlers should do pretty well.

See our sample toddler sleep and feeding schedules for more information.

Baby and Toddler Scheduling Help That Works…Guaranteed!

If scheduling help is what you need, we can certainly help with that. We have a team of caring, compassionate expert consultants standing by, waiting to create a Personalized Sleep Plan™ for your family.
 
Browse our list of consultation package options here.
 

Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!

Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.
 

bss_ebook_masteringnaps_leftIf you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 45 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style.

 
bss_ebook_5steptoddler_smalFor those persistent toddler sleep struggles, check out The 5 Step System to Help Your Toddler Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your toddler sleep through the night and enjoy a better daytime schedule.
 
 

bss_email_featprod_memberspic-CROPPEDOr, join our Members Area packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! As a member, you’ll also enjoy a weekly chat with an expert sleep consultant. And the best part – members receive 20% off all sleep consultation services!

 

Can’t decide which product or service is right for you? Visit our Getting Started Page for help.

Newborn Sleep and Feeding Schedule

 
Newborn Sleep Feeding Schedule

This article outlines newborn sleep patterns and habits, as well as sample newborn sleep and feeding schedules.

Skip to the schedules

Newborn Sleep

A baby is considered a newborn from birth until about 3 months of age. During the first 3 months of life, your newborn’s sleep patterns will look nothing like yours – your baby will sleep in short bursts (anywhere from 30 or 45 minutes – 3 or possibly 4 hours), and then eat between sleeps. In this way, newborn’s don’t follow a typical day/night sleep schedule. Their circadian rhythms need time to adjust – in fact, some newborns come out of the womb having their days and nights completely mixed up! This is called day/night confusion, and babies who struggle with it tend to sleep a lot during the day and then wake up frequently at night.

Many parents discover that their newborns are extra sleepy in the first week or two after birth – you may find that you have to wake your newborn to feed, or that your newborn often drifts off during a feeding, before eating her fill. But your newborn will definitely “wake up” within three weeks after birth – at that point, you will start to deal with more wakefulness (in fact, you may start to miss the early weeks of having a super-sleepy newborn!!).

Newborn Feeding

Newborns feed very, very frequently, but this isn’t a problem to be solved – it’s perfectly natural! Your newborn’s tummy is quite small, so it’s understandable that he needs to eat often.

Formula-fed newborns may need to eat slightly less often than breast-fed newborns, because it takes a newborn’s tummy longer to digest and break down formal, resulting in baby feeling fuller for longer periods of time. Breast milk, on the other hand, is digested fairly quickly.

As for how much breastmilk or formula your baby needs – when it comes to formula, you can use a fairly simple formula to help you determine approximately how much formula your baby needs. Take your baby’s weight and multiply it by 2.5. So, following this approach, an 8 pound baby would need about 20 ounces of formula in a 24-hour period. As for breastmilk – as a general rule, most newborns need between 20 and 30 ounces of breastmilk (and between 25-35 ounces once they’re past the newborn stage). In general, if you are exclusively nursing, it’s best to nurse on demand in the first few weeks after birth – this will ensure that your milk supply becomes well-established. In the first 12 weeks, your newborn may have one 4-5 hour stretch of sleep during the day or night, but your baby really shouldn’t have more than one (or possibly two, in some cases) – in order to maintain your supply, you’ll need to nurse every 2-3 hours, on average. Once your baby is past 3 months of age, and is in the infant stage, that will slowly stretch into 5-6 hours, and then 7-8, and eventually right up to 10 or 11 hours once your baby is 9 or 10 months old.

Newborn Growth Spurts

Believe it or not, A LOT is going on with your newborn baby. So much growth and development is happening in that little body! Your newborn will very likely go through growth spurts at the following times:

  • 7-10 days of age
  • 2-3 weeks of age
  • 4-6 weeks of age
  • 3 months of age

During these growth spurts, it will feel like your newborn is feeding almost constantly (and like when she’s not feeding, she’s sleeping). This is 100% normal – feed your newborn as often as she needs it, as the extra nourishment is important during the growth spurt.

Newborn Feeding and Sleep Schedule

Your unique newborn’s wake times and total sleep needs may vary from what is recommended below. These schedules are based on averages, but your baby may need more or less sleep (or shorter/longer wake times) than what is shown below. Remember, watch your baby’s sleepy cues closely (rubbing eyes, yawning, staring off into space, etc.), and let those guide the sleep schedule. Remember, too, that if your baby is already fussing, he’s already overtired – strive to get him down for his nap earlier next time, before the fussing starts.

 

2-8 Week Old Newborn, Breast Feeding

(This schedule is best for babies who consume average amounts of breast milk, and for moms who have average breast milk production and storage amounts. Babies who eat smaller amounts, babies with reflux, and moms who produce and store smaller amounts of breastmilk would need a different schedule, as would babies who eat larger amounts per feeding, and moms who produce/store greater amounts of breast milk. Schedules for those scenarios, as well as schedules for older breast-fed newborns, are available in our newborn book, Essential Keys To Your Newborn’s Sleep).

9:00 AM – Wake and Feed*
10:00 AM – Nap (30-60 minutes)
11:00 AM – Wake and Feed
12:30 PM – Nap (30-60 minutes)
1:30 PM – Wake and Feed
3:30 PM – Nap (30 – 60 minutes)
4:30 PM – Wake and Feed
6:00 PM – Nap (30 – 60 minutes)
6:30 PM – Wake and Feed
7:30 PM – Catnap (20 – 30 minutes)
8:00 PM – Wake and Feed
9:30 PM – Catnap (20 – 30 minutes)
10:00 PM – Wake and Feed
11:30 PM – Feed and Bedtime*
3:30 AM – Feed and Right back to sleep
6:30 AM – Feed and Right back to sleep

* – we recommend you make these fixed points in your baby’s schedule. You can read more about this in our article on fixed points in a baby schedule.

2-8 Week Old Newborn, Formula Feeding

(You will see that this schedule outlines longer naps and fewer feedings than the breastfeeding schedule above; this is simply because formula is more difficult for baby to digest, so baby tends to feel fuller longer, and therefore needs slightly fewer feedings. For formula-feeding schedules for older newborns, see our newborn book, Essential Keys To Your Newborn’s Sleep)

9:00 AM – Wake and Feed*
10:00 AM – Nap (60 – 90 minutes)
11:30 AM – Wake
12:30 PM – Feed and Nap (30 – 60 minutes)
1:30 PM – Wake
3:00 PM – Feed and Nap (60 – 90 minutes)
4:30 PM – Wake and Feed
6:00 PM – Nap (30 – 60 minutes)
6:00 PM – Wake
7:30 PM – Feed and Nap (30 – 60 minutes)
8:30 PM – Wake
9:30 PM – Nap (30 – 60 minutes)
10:00 PM – Wake and Feed
11:30 PM – Feed and Bedtime*
4:30 AM – Feed and Right back to sleep
7:30 AM – Feed and Right back to sleep

* – we recommend you make these fixed points in your baby’s schedule. You can read more about this in our article on fixed points in a baby schedule.

Essential Keys to Newborn SleepThe schedules above come from our newborn sleep e-Book, Essential Keys To Your Newborn’s Sleep. At over 90 pages long (and containing a variety of sample schedules for breastfed and formula-fed babies from birth – 16 weeks), this e-Book truly is a one-stop resource designed to help your newborn establish healthy sleep habits, right from birth. Whether you’re a brand new parent or an experienced parents who needs to brush up newborn sleep basics, Essential Keys To Your Newborn’s Sleep is a comprehensive and budget-friendly resource that will provide the information you need to work towards excellent sleep for your whole family, from day one.

Additional Newborn Sleep Articles

Want more newborn sleep tips? Check out our other newborn sleep articles:

Newborn Sleep Resources, and Personalized Newborn Sleep Help

bss_ebook_masteringnaps_leftIf you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 45 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style.

 
bss_ebook_3stepsystem_leftFor those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night.
 
 

bss_email_featprod_memberspic-CROPPEDOr, join our Members Area packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! As a member, you’ll also enjoy a weekly chat with an expert sleep consultant. And the best part – members receive 20% off all sleep consultation services!

 
Baby_On_Computer_RESIZEDIf you are looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation, and want plenty support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations. Your consultation package will provide you with the chance to interact one-on-one with a trained sleep consultant, who will create a Personalized Sleep Plan™ for your family and then work to help you implement it at home.
 

Can’t decide which product or service is right for you? Visit our Getting Started Page for help.

 
*******************************************************************************************
bss_ebook_freeguide_leftWant FREE sleep help that you can put to use right away? Download a copy of our free guide, 5 Ways To Help Your Child Sleep Through The Night! The guide is available to download instantly, which means you can start using the techniques in it as early as tonight. So download now, and learn why your baby is waking at night – and what you can do about it.
 
 
Click here to learn more about how to get your free guide.

A better night’s sleep could be just a few clicks away. So don’t wait – download now, and start your journey to better sleep tonight!
*******************************************************************************************
 

Tell us about your newborn’s schedule and sleep routines!

Baby Feeding Schedule: Rigid, Flexible, or On-Demand?

 
Baby FeedingSchedule

Figuring out your baby’s sleep schedule can be tough – very tough! – but you know what can be just as challenging? Figuring out your baby’s feeding schedule! While it’s true that a small percentage of families will struggle with sleep while not having any issues with feeding, we’ve found that sleep and feeding are so closely connected that families usually have trouble with both. (That’s just one of the reasons we created our sister site, Your Baby’s Start To Solid Food.)

Sleep and feeding problems usually become cyclical. Here’s an example: an over-tired 3 month old may start to routinely take short, incomplete feedings, simply because he can’t stay awake long enough to get a full feed. Then, he may wake too early from a nap, or wake too often at night, because he’s hungry (he didn’t get that full feeding in earlier, after all), so he needs to eat again – only he can’t take a full feeding, because he’s so tired, so he falls asleep after just fa few minutes of eating, but then he wakes too early from his next nap, too, because he’s hungry…..

You get the idea. :)

So, along with sleep schedule help, our consultants often offer feeding schedule help, too, in cases where feeding schedules may be problematic. You just can’t separate out feeding and sleep – they’re so connected!

That’s why we’re talking about feeding schedules today on the blog. Specifically, we’re looking at different kinds of feeding schedules, to help you determine which is best for you. When it comes to baby feeding schedules, is it best to go with a more rigid schedule? A more flexible schedule? Or should you throw out the schedule altogether and feed on demand?

Let’s take a look!

Baby Feeding Schedule: A Rigid Schedule

Rigid schedules are generally clock-based – parents set times for feedings and then stick to those times, even if baby wakes early from a nap or at night. Some parents will even wake their child from a nap in order to stick to the schedule!

I’ll say right now that if you try to implement a rigid schedule with a newborn, or a young baby, you’re likely wasting your time – most newborns and young babies just aren’t ready for a rigid baby feeding schedule. True, some very consistent babies may have no trouble sticking to a clock-based schedule, it’s rare that a very young baby can do that. In fact, in our experience, most babies aren’t ready for a rigid schedule until they’re at least 6 months old. And a rigid schedule can be downright dangerous for young babies, since it may not allow for enough feeding to accommodate their growing bodies and brains.

Even past 6 months, whether or not a rigid schedule will work depends a lot on your baby’s temperament. Consistent, predictable babies will likely do better with a rigid schedule than will inconsistent, unpredictable babies. Of course, what kind of schedule works best will depend at least in part on YOUR temperament, too! Type-A parents will likely do great with a rigid schedule, but if you’re parent who prefers to go with the flow, and loves it when each day is different, a rigid schedule may not work well (even if it works for your baby). It’s all about finding balance, and working out an arrangement that suits both of you. 😉

A final word about rigid schedules – remember that if you’re using a rigid schedule to try and promote more sleep at night (for example, by only “allowing” a set number of night wakings), it may not work out as you plan. Some babies (especially newborns) actually need to eat more frequently during the day in order to get that long stretch of sleep in at night, but if you have carefully timed the day feedings, they may not get enough calories during daylight hours to get the long stretch at night.

Baby Feeding Schedule: A Flexible Schedule

79079804 A flexible schedule allow you to be just that – flexible. With a flexible schedule, you have general times in mind for feedings, but they may not be clock-based. Instead, you may focus more on the timing between feedings. With a flexible schedule, you may strive to feed at roughly the same time each day, but then you would also allow for interruptions – if baby sleeps through a feeding time, then you adjust the schedule. Or, if baby wakes too early for a nighttime feed, then you offer it but adjust the timing of the next day.

Flexible schedules work well at just about any age (although you may want to “tighten the reins” on flexible schedules once you reach the toddler stage; by the time your baby is a year old, she’s ready to organize her feedings into meals and snacks). Flexible schedules are great during the newborn and young baby stages – they help build in a measure of predictability and routine, but they also for baby to get in all the feedings she needs. They also allow for the unexpected things in life – last-minute errands, visitors who just pop-in unannounced, etc.

Flexible schedules can help promote sleeping through the night, in that they can help to gently space out feedings that are too close together. And if your schedule allows for plenty of daytime feedings, then your baby may have a better chance of getting that long, nighttime stretch of sleep. However, flexibility is a balance – schedules that are VERY flexible may cease to look like schedules at all, and you may be more in the territory of feeding on demand.

And speaking of feeding on demand…

Baby Feeding Schedule: Feeding On Demand

When you feed your baby on demand, you basically forget about trying to establish a predictable schedule and instead use your baby as your guide. You feed whenever your baby seems hungry, and the feeding is over when the baby seems done. While on demand feeding is a hallmark of attachment parenting, you certainly don’t have to be an attachment parenting to try feeding on demand.

Feeding on demand is probably the best approach to feeding during the very early newborn stage – in the first few weeks after birth. It ensures that your baby gets enough nourishment, and can provide a period of transition time before you move towards a more predictable schedule. On demand feeding is also great in those early days because it allows for the extra nourishment needed during growth spurts.

Of course, on demand feeding can become exhausting for YOU as your baby grows, and if your a parent who likes predictability, the lack of schedule may begin to wear on you if you feed on demand for more than a few months. And while on demand feeding may actually help promote longer stretches of sleep for young babies (since they will be able to cluster-feed in the evening), it may create sleep issues, too. If a baby gets into the habit of “snacking”, for example, and taking in many, many short feedings, it can actually sustain a night-waking problem, or a short-nap problem.

Baby Feeding Schedule: Our Recommendations

First, let me be clear – the decision about which feeding schedule to use is best left up to you. :-) Second, I want to point out that while we have taken each one of these types of schedules separately, you don’t have to view them that way. You can use these schedules in combination. You can also use different schedules at different points in your baby’s development.

For example, if you have a 4 month old, you may choose to feed on demand during the day, so as to encourage plenty of daytime calorie intake, but then use a flexible schedule at night, and pay attention to the gaps between your baby’s feeds, trying to encourage gaps of at least 2.5 hours. Or, you may use demand feeding with your baby when he is sick, or going through a growth spurt, but then return to a more fixed schedule after that. Perhaps you try to implement a flexible schedule if your baby is waking too much at night, or waking too early from naps — the schedule may help you lengthen those sleep times. Or maybe you use a flexible schedule until your baby is 9 or 10 months old, at which point you make an attempt at night weaning and then move to a more rigid schedule. The point here is that you don’t have to pick one and use it forever – you can change it up as you see fit, and to fit your baby’s needs at various stages.

Baby Feeding Schedule (and Baby Sleep Schedule) Help That Works – We’ve Got It!

Easy to talk about what kind of feeding schedule to use with your baby – harder to make the schedule happen! If you need baby feeding schedule help – or baby sleep schedule help – we are here for you! Our consultants are standing by, ready to offer their expertise, and to create a Personalized Sleep Plan™ just for you, that will contain important feeding and schedule information. Simply browse our list of consultation packages and choose the one that you like best.
 
Browse our list of consultation package options here.
 

Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!

Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.
 
 

Special Members-Only Nap Resources

bss_ebook_masteringnaps_left Mastering Naps & Schedules — For starters, all Baby Sleep Site® members receive unlimited access to all our e-Books. That’s right – for the price of your membership, you can read all our e-Books at no additional cost! That includes Mastering Naps & Schedules. With over 45 sample schedules (all available for you to view in the Members Area), Mastering Naps & Schedules is THE e-Book for tired parents of non-napping kiddos! We tackle all your top napping issues, including how to get your baby or toddler to take longer naps, how to get your child’s naps to be more consistent and predictable, how to manage nap transitions, how to encourage good napping while traveling – and more! Become a member today, and access the e-Book instantly – no download necessary!
 
Tele-seminarNap Tele-Seminars — Another great members-only resource? Our tele-seminars. Hosted by Nicole herself, these 30-minute tele-seminars offer you insider-information and our trademark sleep coaching methods and techniques. And guess what? We have a special tele-seminar that’s completely focused on managing nap traditions. That’s right – as a member, you will have access to a 30 – 45-minute coaching session with Nicole herself! She’ll walk you through the basics of navigating nap transitions without destroying your existing daytime schedule, or ruining night sleep.

Members-Only Nap Articles — And now, we’ve recently added a special members-only article on this very topic: 5 Practical, Hands-On Tips For Managing Common Nap Transitions. Learn our 5 top secrets for how to gently and painlessly navigate nap transitions, and help them happen in a way that preserves your child’s sleep while also preserving your own sanity! 😉

For more details about all our member benefits (including weekly chats with a trained sleep consultant and 20% off ALL sleep consulting packages), visit our membership page, and consider becoming a member today!
 
 

Which type of feeding schedule do you prefer? Share your scheduling tips with us – we love hearing from you!