Today’s quick tip is to keep a log of your baby’s sleep for one or two weeks. Log wake times, nap times, nap lengths, and bedtime. Add up the total time baby actually slept (if you are unsure, as long as baby is quiet, count as sleeping). The amount of sleep a child gets in 24 hours stays relatively constant and they will shift sleep from day to night and vice versa (within reason). Once you have your log, you can take the average amount of sleep in 24 hours and use that as a guide when adjusting schedules and setting your expectations on wake-times. For example, if you know your baby gets an average of 13.5 hours in 24 hours and naps 3 hours that day, you can guesstimate (s)he will sleep about 10.5 hours that night. You will likely need to log 1-2 weeks every few months to get an accurate average, as babies change a lot in the first 2-3 years!
Disclaimer: Some babies are more consistent than others. Inconsistent babies might have a large range of the amount of sleep in 24 hours. At least if you keep a log, you know whether this is true or not.
Disclaimer 2: During growth spurts, teething and illnesses, the amount of sleep might be unusually higher or lower. Try to time your logging during a “normal” time. (as much as a baby is “normal”)
For online tracking, you can use Babble Soft. Babble Soft helps you and other caregivers keep track of activities like breastfeeding or bottle feeding schedules, baby sleep patterns, diapers, baby immunization or medicine doses, and baby’s first year photo album. This helps you really get to know your child’s schedule or to show you whether she has one (in the case of inconsistent babies, there just might not be one without your intervention!). Or, you can use good old pencil and paper or track using something like Excel where you can let it calculate the average for you.