Category Archives: Schedules

3 Steps To A Better 6 Month Old Baby Schedule

3 Steps To A Better 6 Month Old Baby Schedule

6 months – the magical age! This tends to be the point at which parents decide that they are more than ready to sleep again, thankyouverymuch, and that it is high time they helped their babies get on a decent sleep schedule (and maybe even start sleeping through the night!)

As always, The Baby Sleep Site® is here to help! This article tackles common 6 month old sleeping challenges, as well as 3 easy steps you can use to help your 6 month old baby establish a predictable, healthy sleep and feeding schedule.

6 Month Old Baby Sleep Challenges

If your baby is still struggling with sleep at 6 months old, that’s okay (and understandable). However, take comfort in the fact that by this age, babies truly can start to follow a more predictable, by-the-clock schedule.

That said, if you are still struggling with your 6 month old baby’s sleep, the following factors may be making things even more challenging:

  • Your 6 month old baby has probably started eating solid food. By 6 months old, most babies have started solid food (in addition to taking in plenty of breastmilk or formula – that’s still the main source of nutrition for the first year!) While some babies transition to solids with no issues whatsoever, other babies react to starting. They show signs of food allergies, they develop tummy issues, etc. – and all of those can interfere in a big way with sleep!
  • Your 6 month old baby’s sleep associations are getting even stronger. By now, your baby has had 6 full months to develop strong habits associated with sleep. That means that if he has become used to being rocked to sleep, or fed to sleep, or held until he falls asleep, that is now a fixed habit. Same with using a pacifier to fall asleep, or being swaddled in sleep. That’s not to say that these sleep associations can’t be overcome – they certainly can! But a 6 month old baby will no doubt show a little more resistance to learning a new way to sleep than a 5 month old baby will.

6 Month Old Baby Sleep Developments

What’s happening with your 6 month old baby’s sleep? Several new developments, actually:

  • Your 6 month old baby’s naps should begin to consolidate. Note the ‘should’ – not all 6 month old babies will show signs of naturally establishing a nap schedule, and some will continue to take many short naps during the day. But most will. You will probably notice that the unpredictable naps you’ve been working with over the past 6 months slowly begin to merge into three semi-predictable naps.
  • Your 6 month old baby will likely be able to drop down to 1 night feeding. It’s still normal for a 6 month old baby to need 1-2 night feedings, but most 6 month old babies are able to get by with just 1 feeding at night. (Most – not all! Don’t feel bad if your 6 month old still needs to feed twice during the night). If your baby is nursing more than once or twice per night, however, work to gradually decrease those night feeds.

6 Month Old Baby Schedule: 3 Steps To A Better One

If you haven’t yet adjusted your baby to a somewhat clock-based schedule, it can be a daunting process to start. We understand that! That’s why we are outlining 3 steps to help you establish a healthy 6 month old baby schedule:

  1. 6 month old baby bedtime – To begin, establish a consistent bedtime for your 6 month old baby. Develop a bedtime routine, too – that’s key for signaling to your baby that it’s time for sleep! This doesn’t have to be exactly the same time each night – aim for having your baby down for bed within the same half-hour window each night.
  2. 6 month old baby wake-up time – Next, try to establish a consistent wake-up time for your 6 month old baby. This will be a bit tougher than the bedtime, because your baby may wake too early or too late, and what do you do in those circumstances? Well, if your baby wakes too early, treat it as a night waking – interact with your baby (whether you are feeding or simply offering comfort) and then put your baby back to bed until it’s wake-up time. If your baby sleeps past wake-up time, try to wake your baby within about a half hour of the established wake-up time.
  3. 6 month old baby first nap time – Once you have a pretty firm bedtime and wake-up time established, work to make sure that the first nap of the day happens at about the same time each morning. Again, this doesn’t have to be exact, but aim for putting your baby down for the morning nap within the same half-hour window each morning.

6 Month Old Baby Schedule: Suggested Feeding Amounts and Nap Times

Need help in knowing when (and how much) to feed your 6 month old baby? Want to see several sample 6 month old baby schedules that will help you create the best possible schedule for your 6 month old baby?
 
Check our our sample 6 month old baby schedules here!
 

6 Month Old Baby Sleep Help

If you are struggling with your 6 month old baby’s sleep, remember that you don’t have to struggle alone! We are here to help you – it’s what we do! Sleep training can be tough, and hundreds of parents turn to us for sleep coaching help every month. We can help you, too. Take a look at our consultation packages, and see which one looks like a good fit for you.
 
Click here to see all our personalized consultation packages.
 
Once you purchase, you will immediately receive access to the Helpdesk, and you can set up your account, fill out your Family Sleep History form, submit it to a consultant, and get started on the journey to better sleep!

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.

What is your 6 month old baby’s schedule? Share your scheduling tips with the rest of us!

  • Feel like you can handle sleep coaching on your own? Why not take a look at our The 3-Step System To Help Your Baby Sleep? Available in three affordable packages, this book is designed to give you practical, hands-on tools you can use to help your baby learn to fall asleep on his own, and stay asleep (and stop fighting bedtime!). For toddlers, try The 5-Step System To Better Toddler Sleep. Best of all, both books is available to download instantly – you can put it to use as early as tonight!
  • Want an abundance of resources to help you in your sleep coaching? Consider becoming a Baby Sleep Site Member. Our Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and teleseminars. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! And as a member, you have access to a once-a-week chat with one of our expert sleep consultants – ideal for those times when you need some expert advice! And the icing on the cake? Members enjoy 20% off all sleep consultation services. That savings alone can pay for the cost of membership!
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5 Month Old Baby Schedule

 
5 Month Old Baby Schedule


This article outlines the average 5 month old baby schedule, including feedings, solids, naps and night sleep.

Skip to the schedule


5 month old baby’s sleep

At this age, if you are not lucky enough to have a baby who sleeps through the night, many 5 month olds are still waking 1-3 times to eat at night. Anything more and likely you have a sleep association problem. Your 5 month old should be taking 3-4 naps per day for a total of 3-4 hours per day plus 11-12 hours at night. If you’re having trouble with naps, you might be interested in helping your baby nap.

Obviously, all babies vary, but here are some sample schedules you can use to make your own for your unique baby. Schedules are iffy at this age because many babies simply cannot stay up past 2 hours to get to the next scheduled nap-time, so at this age, it’s likely naps are still on the short side, but come frequently. Over the next several weeks, you can work on getting down to just 3 naps to get closer to the 6 month schedule.

I should warn you that I am in the camp that breast milk or formula should be the primary nutrition for the first year and solids come secondary. Below are the amounts we recommend. For more information on starting your baby on solid food, visit our sister site, Your Baby’s Start To Solid Foods. It includes recommendations about how and when to start solids, as well as helpful information on food allergies, recommended products, baby-friendly recipes, and more.

Amounts per day:

• At least 7-10 breastfeeding sessions per day (5-6 during daylight hours, and 2-4 at night) or 24-32 ounces formula or combination (decrease solids if your baby is not taking in at least this much)
• Water is unnecessary (breast milk and formula have plenty of water in them). If your baby has any constipation issues, focus on P-foods (pears, prunes, etc.)
• 1-2 servings baby cereal (1 serving = 1-2 Tablespoons dry)
• 1-2 servings fruit (1 serving = 1-2 Tablespoons)
• 1-2 servings vegetable (1 serving = 1-2 Tablespoons)

Note: If you did not start solids until 6 months (I did not start until 6 months), you will work your way up to the amount of servings above. Don’t worry about feeding this much right away!


Sample 5 month old schedule

This first schedule works best for babies who become overtired quickly and can stay awake for about 1.5 – 2 hours between naps:

Schedule 1

6:30 – Wake and Breast milk or Formula
7:15 – Breakfast
8:00 – Morning Nap (at least 1 hour)
9:00 – Breast milk or Formula
11:00 – Nap (often 30-60 minutes at this age)
12:00 – Breast milk or Formula
1:30 – Breast milk or Formula
2:00 – Nap
4:00 – Breast milk or Formula
5:00 – Catnap (30 minutes)
6:30 – Begin bedtime routine
6:45 – Breast milk or Formula and Bedtime
7:00 – Goal to be asleep

+Plus possibly 1-2 nighttime feedings

If your baby is able to stay up longer between naps, and is not as sensitive to over tiredness, you may want to take a look at our 6 month schedule, and modify the schedule above to more closely match the 6 month schedule.

Note: Many people prefer to follow an eat-play-sleep routine, which is a good routine to follow, however, sometimes hard to implement 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. I take all of that into consideration when making my schedules. The most important part is to be careful not to create sleep associations with feedings too close to sleep times, which we saw become important at 4 months old.

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.

 
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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!
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What is your 5-month old’s schedule? Share it in the comments section below!

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3 Easy Steps To A Better Baby or Toddler Sleep Schedule

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How To Build A More Consistent Sleep ScheduleIf we have said it once, we have said it a thousand times: consistency is key! That’s true when it comes to sleep training, AND when it comes to ensuring quality sleep for your baby or toddler. But while consistency is easy to talk about, it can be harder to actually put into practice.

But never fear, readers – we are here to help! We are outlining 3 easy steps to build a more consistent sleep schedule for your baby or toddler.

3 Easy Steps To Build a Consistent Sleep Schedule For Your Baby or Toddler

  1. Establish a (pretty) regular bedtime. First, work on getting your baby or toddler to bed at about the same time each night. This doesn’t have to be exact (in fact, there are times when our consultants will actually recommend moving bedtime around, based on naps). A 30-minute bedtime window is fine. But sticking to that bedtime window is important – if your little one’s bedtime is erratic, it can have big repercussions when it comes to behavior and to overall sleep quality. Remember, too, that the large majority of your baby or toddler’s sleep should happen at night, so don’t make the excuse that you’ll compensate for late bedtimes with longer naps – that’ll cheat your little one out of optimal sleep. Don’t worry about whether or not your little one actually falls asleep right at bedtime – in the beginning, just strive for putting him into bed at the same time each night.
  2. Establish a regular wake-up time. Your baby or toddler’s morning wake time is important, too – it sets the schedule for the entire day. If your baby or toddler isn’t awake at the designated time, then wake her up. (Want more info about the 4 times when it’s okay to wake your baby from sleep? Read this article.) If she wakes too early, then try to keep her content, but avoid getting her up and out of bed until it’s wake-up time. Keep in mind, though, that if you’re having to frequently wake your baby from sleep in order to stick to the schedule, you may need to rework the schedule itself. Waking your baby from sleep should be a temporary solution, not a long-term one.
  3. Establish one regular nap time. Once you have a pretty consistent bedtime and wake-up time going, work on establishing a consistent time-frame for one of your baby or toddler’s naps. The first nap of the day is usually the best one to work on. It tends to be the longest and most restorative nap, and as long as your baby or toddler is waking at about the same time each day, it should be pretty easy to time it up.

What steps have you taken to build more consistency into your baby or toddler’s schedule?

Need help in creating a sleep schedule that works for you AND for your baby or toddler? We can help! Take a look at these Baby Sleep Site resources:

  • Need more sleep training resources? We have a ton! Browse our list of e-books and e-book packages, designed to help your baby, toddler, or newborn develop better napping and sleeping habits.
  • Want Unlimited Access to ALL Our Products, Including E-Books? Join our Members Area packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and teleseminars.
  • Need Personalized Help? If you want a customized solution PLUS support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations. You will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about!
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2 Strategies For Surviving the Daylight Savings Time Change

Surviving Daylight Savings Daylight Savings tends to be a big topic here at The Baby Sleep Site®; we start getting e-mails in the Helpdesk up to a month before it ends, asking for suggestions on how to help babies and toddlers ‘fall back’ and adjust to the time change.

After working with many, many, many families to adjust to new time change schedules, we’ve learned a thing or two about how to make the transition a smooth one.

And that’s what we are talking about today! We’re presenting two strategies for surviving the daylight savings time change.

2 Options For Surviving Daylight Savings

  1. Do nothing. If your baby’s is fairly adaptable to change, and is not sensitive to overtiredness, then you can simply do nothing, take the time change in stride. This means sticking to your baby or toddler’s normal schedule as best you can. The exception to that would be the morning wake-up time; that will likely be earlier for a few days, or maybe a week. For example, if your baby normally wakes at 7 a.m., then after the time change, she will probably wake closer to 6 a.m. However, keep naps and bedtime close to their usual times. You can bump them up a bit if your baby or toddler seems really exhausted, but remember, this is a short-term solution. You don’t want to do this long-term, or you will create a long-term schedule change.

    This is also a good option for babies and toddlers who are waking up and going to bed too late. If this is the case, and if you would like your child’s wake time, naps, and bedtimes to be a bit earlier than they currently are, consider yourself lucky — the end of daylight savings will shift your child’s schedule backwards by an hour!

  2. Tweak your child’s schedule ahead of time. If your baby is already waking up too early in the morning, in relation to your ideal family schedule, we recommend doing some preemptive work ahead of time to ease the transition. Moving your baby’s schedule isn’t always easy, but in the next week or two, you can successfully move your baby’s schedule forward by an hour and then move it again, if necessary, to achieve your family’s ideal schedule.

    For example, if your baby is waking at 5 a.m., and you’d like her to wake at 6 a.m. or later, you can move her schedule forward one hour to 6 a.m., wait for the time to change (where she will be waking at 5 a.m. once again) and then move her schedule forward again. This works best when your baby is at least 8 months old, but some 6 month old schedules can be moved as well. Younger babies generally will adjust naturally within a few days to two weeks as long as you don’t strictly stick to the earlier schedule (a young baby’s sleep is already highly disorganized).

If you are interested, our Shifting Schedules e-Book outlines detailed steps (with examples) to moving your baby’s schedule. It deals with managing early-morning wake up times, as well as late bedtimes. It also provides tips and insights that are useful for tackling the time change. It even includes a case study that follows one family’s schedule shift as they worked one-on-one with Nicole.

Reminders About How Daylight Savings Affects Bedtime

Keep in mind that late bedtimes equal overtiredness. And overtiredness equals restless nights for babies and toddlers, and even earlier morning wake-up times. So watch your baby’s bedtime carefully, and make it earlier, if needed (for a few days, at least – while your baby adjusts). Here’s an example, to help you visualize this point: if your baby normally goes to bed at 7 p.m., after the time change, 6 p.m. will ‘feel’ like 7 p.m., since it WAS 7 p.m. just a few days ago. So if your baby seems sleepy around 6 p.m., respect that, and put him to bed a little early (maybe at 6:15 or 6:30). This shouldn’t be a long-term strategy, of course (few families want a bedtime that early!) But it’s a good short-term strategy.

How are you planning for the end of Daylight Saving’s Time? How do you anticipate it will affect your baby or toddler’s schedule? Let’s put our heads together and share some tips and advice!

Need help with your baby or toddler’s sleep? FREE copy of 5 (tear-free) Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. Or, join our Members Area packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and teleseminars (including one about managing the time change!). It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.

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Exclusive Wake-Time Formula – Your Missing Link For Great Baby Sleep

A guest article by Angela Braden. Angela blogs at www.sciencemommy.weebly.com

Nap times go array when we miss the “sleep window”—that magic snippet of time in which baby is primed for la la land and will drift off peacefully (in the right environment). Perhaps you’ve seen your baby’s sleep window open—a glazed look, a yawn, or some agitated movements (depending on age)—but by the time you finished that bite of food, changed the diaper, and swaddled, that window had slammed shut on you! One missed window can set in motion a vicious cycle of overtired, short naps and more disturbed night sleep. Going by a strict schedule can be problematic too, because every night and every nap is different, (particularly in the first six months). You usually end up with a baby who’s overtired or under tired at the “scheduled” sleep time.

So should you watch the baby (for signs of sleepiness) or watch the clock in order to put baby to sleep during her sleep window? The answer is “both”, but here’s how: The heart of consistently successful “sleep window synchrony” (my term) is staying within an optimum “wake time” zone. (Wake time is the duration of wakefulness between sleep times, counting the time it takes to soothe your baby to sleep.)

Simply put, wake time is the single most powerful determinant of when your baby will need to sleep again! Knowing the best wake time will help you stay ahead of overtired like nothing else, because you’ll be ahead of those tricky sleepy cues too (some babies are just hard to read!).

Below, exclusively for The Baby Sleep Site, I’ve outlined my secret formulas for knowing when baby’s “wake time” is going to expire. The formulas vary by age, so look for your baby’s age range to know which number to start with, then “tweak it” with the factors that follow and you’ll have a nearly exact predictor of when your baby next needs to snooze. (You should still keep logs to optimize for individual differences, until you’ve got it down.)

Here’s why these formulas have proven to be golden in terms of avoiding healthy sleep enemy #1, overtired: They factor in the second most powerful determinant (in my opinion) of when baby needs sleep—duration of the last sleep time (age of baby is the first factor). Since babies through at least six or seven months normally have erratic sleep durations—some naps last 20 minutes, some 2 hours—we have to factor in duration or we’re shooting in the dark for that critical sleep window.

I discovered with my little one, and later through consulting for other mommies, that for young babies (particularly zero to four months), the duration of the previous sleep time, predicts the next wake time! After around six months, baby should be taking the full, one-hour-minimum, naps anyway (most of the time), so we can look more to the age-determined wake times, though duration can still be a factor.

The Wake Time Formulas

0 to 1 month – Wake time = Duration of the last sleep time, up to 40 minutes max.

Newborns are rarely awake longer than it takes them to feed and have a diaper change. If they don’t doze back quickly, they need our help to make sleep happen in time! Of course, if baby goes to sleep sooner, don’t try to keep a newborn awake for the full 40 minutes.

*Note: During what is often called, “the witching hour” (or in my case, full blown colic time) many newborns simply will not sleep for hours on end, despite your best soothing efforts. This doesn’t mean they don’t need to! This is the time to really take Nicole’s sleep-inducing tips to heart. Diligence pays and every bit of extra sleep you get out of baby during this time will help in the big picture, even in the long run, after colic has passed.

1 to 2 months – Wake time = Duration of the last sleep time up to max, 40 to 60 minutes.
During these months, the best rule of thumb is the duration of the last nap, since nap length is biologically a work in progress for babies at this stage. Plan to put back to sleep within one hour of wakefulness (or less if last sleep period was less). Lean closer to 40 minutes for colicky/sensitive babies, especially during the morning hours. (Also see “witching hour” note above.)

2 to 3 months – Wake time = Duration of the last sleep time up to max, 60 to 80 minutes.
At this age, if baby sleeps less than 45 minutes, you should immediately try to continue the nap (by rocking, soothing, etc.) to equal at least 45 minutes, but if your attempts are unsuccessful (as they often will be), simply calculate wake time by the sleep duration, instead of max time.

3 to 4 months – Wake time = Duration of the last sleep time up to max, 60 to 90 minutes.
Yawn or no yawn …cranky or not…. At 50 minutes or so (depending on tweaking factors below), begin your nap time wind down routine, aiming to have baby asleep within this range.

4 to 6 months: Wake time = Duration of the last sleep time up to max, 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Baby usually has developed three somewhat predictable naps, but the wake time is still a more important indicator of the sleep window, than the “scheduled” nap.

6-8 months: Look for wakeful periods to begin to stretch to 2.5 hours without becoming overtired, provided that the naps are not too short. Nap duration is less of a factor now. The first nap of the day will still need to occur a bit earlier (within 2 hours).

*Note: Activity level now becomes a factor, because many babies are mobile. If your little one has had a very active wake time, you may need to tweak in the earlier direction 10 minutes or so.

8-10 months: Wake time – 2 to 3.5 hours. For the first two naps, wake time should be between 2 and 2.5 hours, so you’re starting with just one three hour period of wakefulness per day (the one before bedtime).This range depends greatly on whether baby has dropped the third nap (usually at 9 months). Generally, thereafter, the 3.5 hour wake time works (from the time baby drops the third nap) until baby drops the second nap between 14 and 18 months (approximately).

Tweak It Factors

Now that you know the range to shoot for, here’s how you can hone in on a more precise prediction of the infamous closing sleep window.

  • Time of day: As noted above, the morning nap (from the morning wake up) usually will still need to happen at the early end of the given range. The later time given applies to the longer period of wakefulness in the late afternoon/early evening.
  • Temperament/Colic or post-Colic: With colicky babies, always go with the shorter wake time and keep a log to pinpoint even further. Once colic has passed, at around 3 months for most babies, these sensitive little ones still need this shorter wake time, especially in the morning. The same applies to babies who are sensitive to over-stimulation (but may not be considered “colicky).
  • Quality and quantity of night sleep: Usually, if baby has a bad night, he will close his sleep deficient with the length of his nap, but it’s worth checking out Nicole’s night sleep totals and if your baby gets less night sleep and takes a short nap, move that wake time back to the shorter end.

Every baby is different, but the vast majority will fall within these ranges. (Most babies are also chronically overtired!)

This “Wake time formula” is the clock-watching part of knowing when to facilitate baby’s next nap, but it’s the antithesis of rigid scheduling. It gives you a starting point from which to log what works best for your baby, as regular naps develop.

Please let me know how these formulas are working for you!

Angela Braden is mother of Kian, 5 and Gianna, 17 months. She has researched and reported on wellness and lifestyle for a decade and a half and been published hundreds of times in national and international magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Women’s Health and Fitness, and Lucire (New Zealand). Angela served as a columnist and healthy lifestyle expert on TBS for 2 years. She swears her two babies are angels…but only when they’ve had optimum sleep.

©2012 by Angela Braden. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Angela Braden.

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How to Get Your Baby Through Daylight Savings 2011

Baby Daylight Savings 2010The end of Daylight Savings is when we turn our clocks back one hour and is one of the biggest worries for parents of young babies. Daylight savings this year ends in Europe this weekend on October 30th and on November 6th here in the United States (most of them). I start getting questions about the time change up to a month or more ahead of time and understandably so, which is why this year I made sure I did a tele-seminar back in September about it, for those who wanted to get ahead in tackling this very “scary” issue. If your baby is already waking too early, just the thought of your baby waking an hour earlier is enough to make the calmest parent have a few butterflies. If you’re like me who obsesses about sleep (how else could I write about this every week?), it wouldn’t be surprising if you feel extra anxious about your 5 a.m. waker-upper waking up at 4 a.m. This article will help you survive Daylight Savings 2011.

If you already have a baby waking too early

For those of you who have an early riser, you may want to start working on your baby’s schedule, now. If your baby is 6 months or older and isn’t napping well enough, you may want to help your baby nap longer and get on a schedule in the next week, so when the time changes you will be able to adjust easier, keeping your baby from getting overtired. When your baby is already taking short naps, it’s very difficult to put her to bed at her normal bedtime, now an hour “later” than usual. Better napping means an easier transition.

If your baby is already waking up too early in the morning, in relation to your ideal family schedule, I’d recommend doing some preemptive work ahead of the time change to ease the transition. Moving your baby’s schedule isn’t always easy, but in the next week or two, you can successfully move your baby’s schedule forward by an hour and then move it again, if necessary, to achieve your family’s ideal schedule.

For example, your baby may be waking at 5 a.m., but you’d like her to wake at 6 a.m. or later. So, ideally, you would move her schedule forward one hour to 6 a.m., wait for the time to change (where she will be waking at 5 a.m. once again) and then move her schedule forward, again. This works best when your baby is at least 8 months old, but some 6 month old schedules can be moved as well. Younger babies generally will adjust naturally within a few days to two weeks as long as you don’t strictly stick to the earlier schedule (a young baby’s sleep is already highly disorganized). If you are interested, I go over detailed steps (with examples) to moving your baby’s schedule in my pamphlet called Shift Your Baby’s Schedule (I know not a very original title, but I’ve found that tired parents don’t always enjoy clever. :) They just want answers, which I try to provide straight and to-the-point in all my e-Books.). I’ve included a case study that followed one family’s schedule shift whom I worked with one-on-one. And, if you want a day-by-day plan to follow customized to your baby or toddler, I can read your history, review your sleep logs (if you have them), and tell you exactly what to do over the next few weeks. Some babies/toddlers are easier than others, so results do vary, but if you don’t try, you don’t know! You can purchase the book with a consultation at a discounted price, but if you need more than just help with a schedule change, I’d highly recommend a Personalized Sleep Plan™, which is much more comprehensive.

How to handle Daylight Savings

You have three options to handle the time change when Daylight Savings ends, as I went over in my article Time Change Sleeping Tips on WorkingMother.com (2 years ago but the options don’t change much year-to-year) and then again in more detail in my tele-seminar mentioned above.

The key to choosing the best strategy is your baby’s sensitivity to being overtired. If your baby isn’t overly sensitive to being overtired and is not already waking up before dawn, you might just “go with the flow” and wait for the time to change. Many babies will adjust within a few days to a week, just like we do. You will likely have to wake up “earlier” for a few days, since babies tend to sleep in less than adults, though.

For some babies, they will follow a combination of the abrupt time change and a gradual shift. The main thing to remember is that a too-late bedtime can cause over-tiredness leading to an even EARLIER wake-up time in the morning, which will make Daylight Savings even more difficult to manage. Remember that the new 7 p.m. is the old 8 p.m. and can likely have an adverse effect on your baby’s schedule. Rather than follow what your friends might be doing, make sure you take into consideration your baby’s sensitivity and adaptability when tackling the end of Daylight Savings. And, if your baby is already struggling to sleep, there is no time like the present to make the time change the time to make a change.

If 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 40 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style. For 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. If you become a member, you get access to all our e-Books AND the tele-seminar recording (as well as all the others, too, so basically you get access to everything in an organized way).

For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.

How will you handle daylight savings in 2011?

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How To Put Your Baby On a Nap / Sleep Schedule

Baby ScheduleWe have a variety of sample baby sleep and feeding schedules, but how do you put your baby on a sleep or nap schedule, anyway? Your strategy for implementing a baby’s nap schedule will depend on the age of your baby. Here are some tips:

4 month old baby

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. For some babies and parents, they prefer to follow baby’s cues. Find what works for you and, most importantly, your baby.

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. Usually, at this age, it’s best to have some flexibility in this, though. 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 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.

8, 9 or 10 month old baby

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.

11 or 12 month old baby

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.

Toddlers

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.

I hope these tips will help you put your baby or toddler on a nap / sleep schedule. All babies are different and some will be able to get on a schedule earlier than others. My first didn’t get “good” at a schedule until 7 months old while his younger brother was on a schedule around 6 months old. I have seen some 6 month olds take just two naps and I’ve seen 11 month olds taking three naps, which is rare. Having a “wrong” schedule for your baby can impact how long their naps are, how well they sleep at night, what time they wake in the morning, whether they are awake a long time at night, and how fussy or happy they are during the day. Even if you don’t believe in rigid schedules, following guidelines can help, if your baby has sleep problems.

If 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 40 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style. For 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. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.

How did you put your baby or toddler on a schedule?

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Sibling Series, Part 3: How To Maintain Twins and Multiples Sleep and Feeding Schedules

This week’s article is written by our Assistant Sleep Consultant, Heather Matthies, who is a registered nurse and mother of three, including twins.

Having one baby: life-changing. But, having more than one baby? Life-changing times 2 (or 3 or 8 like Octo-mom!). Just like no one could tell most of us how to fully prepare for one baby, whether multiples are planned or a big surprise, there is truly no way to fully prepare for the task ahead. No matter how many times you’ve organized their closet or think about all the organic baby food you’re going to make, some of the things that once seemed very important lose in priority to getting even a little more sleep, and making sure there are clean clothes and food in the house!

When thinking about sleep and feeding schedules for your multiples, it’s important to consider how rigid they will be. I never worried about an exact nap “time” with my singleton daughter, and rocked her to sleep quite often! When I brought 2 babies home, however, I learned that scheduling became my best friend! Not that every day goes as scheduled (babies can be so unpredictable, of course!), and sometimes schedules flew out the window if my baby clearly needed something–but having a schedule or routine provides a much-needed guide to the day. And, if you’re a planner, that’s so important for your own sanity and stability! :) Now, remember that what works for a newborn is not going to work at 8 months, for example, and being open to change through this process can be very useful!

In the very early days, I found my days consisted of the following: nurse, pump, change diapers, wash clothes/diapers, repeat. And the cycle continued over and over! At this point, with multiples who may be premature and take small, frequent feedings, it truly is a round-the-clock job. When they do get a bit more predictable, it is helpful to feed at the same times during the night. I didn’t learn this right away, unfortunately. One son would wake, and I would feed him….thinking, “hmmm…maybe the other will sleep…:)” Usually, this wasn’t the case, of course! As soon as I’d get comfortable, the other baby would proclaim his need for a night feeding as well. What did I learn? In the early days, if one baby is awake and it’s close to feeding time–feed everyone! Once your babies are older, though, eventually you do want to discourage more frequent night-feedings and encourage longer stretches of sleep, so I didn’t continue to do that forever.

Doing most care activities at the same time is the common-sense approach to keeping multiples on the same routine/schedule. Diaper changes, feeding, tummy time, sleep–all done in tandem. There may be times that this provides the best approach to care. I have been at this point for most of my boys’ lives. They have meals together and go down for naps and bedtime together.

There are times, however, when tandem scheduling doesn’t work as well. In these cases, it can help to stagger schedules. Staggered schedules also help if you are having trouble spending one-on-one time with your babies. It can also help to stagger schedules if one baby needs more or less sleep than the other(s), as you may often find is the case (even identical siblings truly are not identical in every way). You may put him down after your baby or babies who need more sleep or get him up earlier, if he wakes early, so he doesn’t disturb the other(s). In some cases you may want to wake the other baby/babies to keep everyone on the same schedule, but sometimes that makes for cranky babies and cranky parents! All situations will have unique details and a unique schedule.

I staggered schedules, temporarily, once I stopped co-sleeping, while the boys were learning how to fall asleep on their own, around 4 months old. I needed to work with one at a time, so this helped my efforts.

Staggering schedules, even if by only 15 minutes, is also helpful if you’re the only adult in the house. During much of my boys’ infancy I was the sole care-giver as my husband was away in the military. So, whether you’re a single parent, or you find yourself doing most or all of the childcare for other reasons, staggering schedules is helpful while you’re sleep coaching, and they’re learning how to fall asleep on their own. This is easier than trying to tend to more than one crying baby, who is keeping the other(s) up. :) It may be that the ideal situation is to have one adult per baby or child, but in reality this isn’t always possible. When you are in the situation of one adult per child, each adult can help teach one baby how to sleep.

Having multiples, especially in the presence of other children, or if you’re flying solo, means that the first several months are not easy. My boys were born in October, and my true attempt at humor is that I don’t remember anything from at least October through December of that year. :) Nowadays, I can’t say that every night is perfect, but most nights and naps are. And, when I put them down for bed there is the hope of a good night’s sleep for everyone. Starting your babies out on the right path, and working towards establishing an individualized schedule that works for YOUR family helps pave the road to better sleep for everyone in your household. It is possible. So many families have come through these situations and so can you!

Continue to Part 4 of our Sibling Series: How to Use Baby Sign Language to Give Your Toddler a Nap-Time Voice.

Other parts in the series:
Sibling Series Part 1: Do You Have Another Baby After a Horrible Sleeper?

Sibling Series Part 2: Juggling Different Baby and Toddler Sleep Schedules

How do you keep your twins or multiples on the same sleep and feeding schedule?

If you’re looking for ways to get your twins or multiples into a healthy sleeping routine or schedule, I encourage you to download our FREE guide, 7 Common Napping Mistakes, or 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 40 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style. For 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. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, especially when it comes to multiples, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about!

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Sibling Series Part 2: Juggling Different Baby and Toddler Sleep Schedules

Lately, a lot of people are writing in about having a new baby (very exciting!) and wondering how to juggle more than one sleep schedule. This article will give you tips to maintain multiple children’s schedules, when their ages vary (multiples have a different set of challenges, so that will be a subsequent part to come).

Once you help your baby sleep through the night, and then your baby becomes a toddler, many families decide to add another baby into the mix. If you haven’t, you might want to read the first part in this series, Do you have another child after a horrible sleeper? At each stage, the challenges are different, because a newborn’s sleep needs are very different than that of an 8 month old, for example.

Your Newborn and Toddler Schedules

When you first bring home the new baby, this is, ironically, probably one of the easier times, unless the new baby has colic or is otherwise more high-needs. Of course, this is only my perspective and opinion and there are a lot of factors to keep in mind and what’s easier to me may be harder to you.

A newborn baby will sleep SO much in the beginning and, for the most part, will be content to be in a Moby Wrap type carrier, laying on a baby playmat, or playing in a swing. Carriers are great for having an ability to do things for your toddler while also keeping the baby happy, and there are many other benefits of baby wearing. I used to put my younger son in a wrap while I cooked dinner or let my toddler chase me around, putting my baby to sleep in 2.2 seconds. It was great! When the baby is a newborn, schedules are virtually non-existent and you should put your baby to sleep after just 1-2 hours of being awake. At this age, sleeping on the go is typical and welcomed.

Your 4-12 month old and Toddler’s Schedules

This is, by far, the most common time when I begin to get e-mails from parents. The problem? Your baby is growing up, becomes more social, may not be as portable (if he was to begin with), needs more and more time to “help” to sleep, then the 4-month sleep regression hits, and, eventually, the 8 month old sleep regression. You may be up with the baby numerous times each night and then you no longer have the luxury of napping when the baby naps (if you ever did), unless your toddler is in pre-school or some type of “Mother’s Day Out” program. And, you simply can’t take an hour to get your baby to nap while your toddler is unattended. And, if you’ve ever tried to tell your toddler “Sshhh… be quiet while the baby falls asleep.” you know that is a difficult feat.

Some tips:

  • Begin a nap and bedtime routine early on to cue the baby to sleep. Involve your toddler in the routine by making him a helper in the routine.
  • Limit how long you work on a nap with your baby. If she’s not asleep in 20-30 minutes, get her up and try again 30 minutes later. Your toddler needs your attention, too.
  • Once your baby is around 6 months old, consider implementing a predictable nap schedule, try to be home for those naps, and avoid car rides before them for optimum sleep. A predictable routine/schedule will help give you one-on-one time with your toddler. Before then, plan to run errands, go to the park, or go on playdates in the afternoon, where your baby’s third or fourth nap will be in the car.
  • Teach your baby how to fall asleep, independently (easier said than done, I know!). I can’t tell you how nice it was to be able to say “nap time,” walk into my son’s room, put him in the crib, and then walk out and get back to my toddler. He was an “easier” sleeper, so if the boys had been born opposite order, I’m sure it would not have been that easy, so I’m thankful.
  • Work on overlapping at least one nap between your baby and toddler’s schedule. For example, your 6 month old baby may sleep at 9 a.m., 1 p.m., and 4 p.m., so target your 18-month old’s nap to be 1 p.m. Or, target your 10 month old’s naps to be 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. so your toddler’s 1-3 p.m. nap has 1 1/2 hours overlapped. This will enable you to do chores or enjoy some down time (you deserve it!). Or, if your baby is waking too early for that and you haven’t been able to fix that, consider waking your toddler earlier such that he can nap closer to 12 or 12:30 p.m., for example.
  • Although it’s common to try to combine bedtime routines, sometimes at these ages, it’s easier to put the baby to sleep, first, then your toddler later. Most babies this age need an early bedtime anyway and their interests are usually very different at this age, not to mention your toddler probably desires more uninterrupted time with you by this time of the day.

Your Baby and Pre-schooler’s Schedules

The trickiest thing about having a pre-schooler and a baby is the fact that you need to keep your baby awake for the drive to/from drop-off. My recommendation is to work hard on getting your baby on a schedule that works for drop-off/pick-up. For example, if your baby is waking at 6 a.m. and can’t make it to 9 a.m. drop-off, work on shifting his schedule forward to wake closer to 7:30 a.m. This is a common problem, I know, but if your baby takes a 5 or 10 minute nap in the car and then awakens when you get home, it may be hard for him to go right back to sleep in his crib. Do recognize, though, that one of the baby’s “jobs” is to adapt to your family life and it may or may not be perfect for him or her. You can only do the best you can and you can’t keep a toddler cooped up in the house all day, either!

Your Toddler and Pre-schooler’s Schedules

Ideally, your toddler’s nap would not be later than 1 p.m. or so, but this can wreak havoc on a schedule in which you have to drop off or pick up your pre-schooler from school. In general, you’ll have to keep your toddler awake until after drop-off/pick-up and try not to let her snooze in the car (not even for 5 minutes) unless she is easily transferred to her bed for a full-length nap.

This is a common age to begin combining bedtime routines, if you haven’t already. If my husband is home, we usually each take a child or task (for example, I might oversee putting on the pajamas and he brushes their teeth). Then, each of us reads to one and cuddles, and then switch. If one of us isn’t home (or isn’t available), together, we eat a snack, put on pajamas, brush teeth, and then we each choose one book to read, and then one waits while I cuddle with the other and then I cuddle with the other (I choose who depending on who needs to go to sleep first). I have found trying to cuddle with both at the same time leads to too much silliness. :)

One common issue in this age group, including school-age children, is that your pre-schooler or school-age child may not nap anymore, in which case, his bedtime most likely needs to be earlier and sometimes that means going to bed before his younger sibling. This can be difficult to accept for the older sibling. We are working through this right now, in fact.

One important thing I have learned since I’ve had two sons is that everything can’t be 100% “fair” all of the time. They are different people with different needs. You must make decisions based on what’s best for each of them. It will be impossible for everything to appear fair and, although I do try when it applies, I have stopped trying when it doesn’t make sense. Adjusting expectations and explaining why something is a certain way often helps. Also, listening to their frustration and empathizing helps them feel heard, which is important. It may not change the outcome, but at least they can feel good that you understand how they feel.

I hope this article has given you a few tips in juggling your baby and toddler’s schedules. Just like after your first baby you found your way, you will find your way again with your new arrival. If you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to download our FREE guide, 7 Common Napping Mistakes, or 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 40 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.

Next in our Sibling Series: Part 3: How to Maintain Twins and Multiples Sleep and Feeding Schedules.

Other parts in the series:
Sibling Series Part 1: Do You Have Another Baby After a Horrible Sleeper?
Sibling Series Part 4: How to Use Baby Sign Language to Give Your Toddler a Nap-Time Voice.

What is your biggest challenge in juggling different sleep schedules?

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How Rigid Should Your Baby’s Sleep Schedule Be?

baby sleep scheduleIt’s inevitable. You have a baby and almost everyone around you will have advice about how to raise him or her. Some are nice about it trying to offer helpful tips while others criticize you and warn you what a big mistake you’re making when you do x, y, or z. I believe most people are trying to help (call me an optimist), but most people are telling you what worked for them and their baby. If you’ve read The Baby Sleep Site™ at all, you know that our philosophy is that all babies are indeed unique and so will their sleep needs. A client this week was telling me how her first was a horrible sleeper and now at 6 years old still has issues, her second was a dream sleeper, and now her third is a challenge like the first and we are working together to make sure she doesn’t repeat the 6 years of sleep deprivation again. Even within the same family, babies are just different!

A former client wrote to me about a month ago asking me to discuss the importance of a rigid schedule for spirited babies. Here’s her e-mail:

Hi Nicole,

A few months ago you helped with my daughter and her sleep problems. Things have gotten much better since then, thank you for all of your help! Since I last contacted you, I have stuck to a pretty rigid schedule with my daughter because if I do not, we are up all night and I feel that we are starting from square one. So, I have found that it is best that I sacrifice some flexibility in other areas of my life for the “schedule” so I know that I will be getting somewhat of a full night of sleep and right now I am ok with this. However, I have been getting some criticism from friends and family about my lack of flexibility, but I feel that they do not understand what it is like to have a “spirited” child. So, I wanted to know if you would be at all willing to have a discussion about the challenges of a baby that does not sleep and how important it is to remain on a schedule for these babies. Thank you!

Does this sound familiar? No matter if you have a flexible schedule or a rigid sleep schedule for your baby, there will be those who believe you are making a mistake doing either one. There are benefits to both, but not both will work for all babies.

Benefits of a Rigid Baby Sleep Schedule

The main benefit of a rigid baby sleep schedule is the fact that it’s predictable. This isn’t just good for you to plan play dates or errands, but your baby will know what to expect every day, too. By prioritizing your baby’s sleep and making sure she’s in her crib at nap time and bedtime will make it that much more likely that she will sleep through the night and ensure your baby naps longer. You are making sure that you are putting her down during her “sleep windows” and helping “set” her internal clock.

Benefits of a Flexible Baby Sleep Schedule

But, what if your baby doesn’t get sleepy at the same times every day? Or, what if your family life is such that your day simply is not very similar day to day? A flexible baby sleep schedule allows you to have much more flexibility in your day. Your play date wants to meet at 10 instead of 11? No problem. That baby swim class is at 1 p.m. twice a week right when your baby’s nap is. No problem. Grandma and grandpa come to visit for two hours making bedtime an hour later? No problem. Having a flexible sleep schedule is definitely appealing in many ways. It feels much less like your whole world revolves around your baby’s sleep and schedule, that’s for sure.

But, is a rigid or flexible sleep schedule right for your baby?

Unfortunately, what’s convenient for us isn’t what works for our baby. As I discussed in my article about schedules for breast-feeding and formula-feeding babies, your personality will likely gravitate you towards one or the other. Your baby will make it a success or a failure. And, sometimes maybe it’s somewhere in between leading to some good days and some bad days.

For highly inconsistent babies, it is usually best to keep a rigid sleep schedule from a sleep perspective (not necessarily feeding schedule), because it helps “set” their internal clock and biological rhythms. If you allow your inconsistent baby to drive the schedule, he is more likely to continue being even more inconsistent than what’s “normal” for him.

For babies who are very sensitive to becoming over-tired leading to less and less sleep, it’s important to keep their sleep at a high priority. It doesn’t necessarily mean keeping a rigid schedule by the clock, but in terms of making sure they are not awake too long before sleep. It means that swim class might have to wait until they’ve changed their schedule.

For babies who can sometimes stay up longer and other times can’t, having a rigid schedule where they are in the crib when they are not tired, could lead to other sleep problems and frustration for your baby. Maybe he needs a more flexible schedule that is driven more by his sleep needs and cues.

The bottom line is that YOU will need to deal with the aftermath, if any, of any decision about scheduling. Everyone else who has an opinion doesn’t have to deal with a cranky baby or get up with your baby at night, YOU do. When it came to my highly inconsistent, supremely over-sensitive to being over-tired son (and still is, but not AS much), I simply could not afford to let too many things disrupt his schedule or routine (especially since he did NOT sleep “on the go” AT ALL after he was a month old!). At minimum, it would set us off course for a week or so with night-wakings and lots of crankiness. I tried it a couple of times and, to me, it just wasn’t worth it. For others, maybe it would be. With my second son, I finally saw how on Earth people had more flexible schedules and could (gasp!) be out of the house sometimes during nap time!

Whether you have a rigid baby sleep schedule or a flexible one will be a personal decision based on your personality, your baby’s personality, and what sleep problems it may or may not bring. Any “event” had to be “worth” the stress for us with our first baby. This meant we missed several family picnics or what-not (which I’m sure we were criticized for), unfortunately, but I knew it would be a relatively short time in our lives. He transitioned to one nap around 12 months and things were sooo much easier with just one nap (which we were 99.9% home for).

So, I can’t answer for you whether a rigid sleep schedule or a flexible sleep schedule might be right for YOU, but I can tell you that I believe you need to do what’s best for your BABY, even if others criticize you or not understand. They grow up so fast and I promise that more than likely, before you know it, you’ll WISH you had some down time with naps at home. :)

If you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, whether it’s rigid or flexible, I encourage you to download our FREE guide, 7 Common Napping Mistakes, or 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 40 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style. For 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. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about!

Did/does a rigid or flexible sleep schedule work best for you and your baby? And, do you get criticized for it?

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