“How is your baby sleeping?” must be the most commonly asked question any new parent gets during the first year of their baby’s life. "It's a given that babies get up a lot during the first three months, and it's important to have realistic expectations," says Harvey Karp, M.D., creator of the DVD and book, The Happiest Baby on the Block. Sure, there are a few lucky parents whose babies fall into a good sleep pattern and learn to fall asleep without much effort. However, most of us need to help our babies learn to become healthy sleepers. With these realistic sleep expectations and tips for survival, you can keep you and your little one well rested throughout her first year and beyond!
Newborns (0-6 weeks)
During the first few weeks after your baby is born, there is little you can do to control the amount she sleeps and when she sleeps. There is no set pattern and she many continue to have day/night confusion for several weeks. Sleep patterns can be erratic and fussiness is very common during the first couple of months. The good news is that her fussiness will usually peak around the 6-8 week mark. Since you can’t manage her sleeping at this stage, use this time to bond by spending lots of time together and getting to know one another.
2 – 3 months
Your baby is probably starting to smile (and not just when having gas!). Not only is this a fun time to see her personality start to blossom, it is also a good time to start laying a healthy sleep foundation. While it is still too early to put your baby on a sleep schedule, you may start to see longer stretches of nighttime sleep (4-6 hours). Your little one is likely napping 4-5 times per day. This is a good age to start practicing putting her to sleep while she is drowsy but awake.
At 16 weeks, your baby is developmentally ready to start working towards a daytime schedule. Now is a good time to be sure she is sleeping in a consistent place for all naps and night sleep. She should be getting nice consolidated stretches of sleep at night. Continue to give your little one lots of opportunities to practice soothing herself to sleep at both nights and naps. Most babies are taking three naps each day. These naps often fall around 9 am, 12 pm, and 3 pm.
Daytime sleep should really be settling at this point. Many babies begin to drop the 3rd nap around 6 or 7 months and some never really take to it. By 9 months your baby should be taking 2 naps each day. It is reasonable to still feed your baby once a night, but, by 9 months, if not sooner, most babies can sleep through the night without a feed.
By now your little one’s sleep should be fairly consistent. She should be taking 2 naps each day around 9 am and 1 pm that last for a total of 2-3 hours each day. Expect the afternoon nap to become the longer of the two naps. When planning for the future, keep in mind that most babies transition to one nap between 15 and 18 months. Do your best to hold onto 2 naps each day for as long as possible.
Remind yourselves that consolidated night and day sleep take time, patience, and consistency to evolve, but are so necessary for your baby to develop and grow both physically and mentally. The more you prioritize her sleep from the very beginning, the better off you, your baby, and your family will be!
Guest Blog by Renee Wasserman, PT, MPH, founder of SleepyHead Solutions
SleepyHead Solutions is a Family Sleep Institute certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant. She offers many services including phone, email, Skype/FaceTime, and in person consultations to solve your child’s sleep challenges. Please email her at email@example.com with any questions. You can find out more information at www.sleepyheadsolutions.com and www.facebook.com/sleepyheadsolutions.
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|Small||3-6 months||24-28 inches||~12-19lbs|
|Medium||6-12 months||29-32 inches||~19-26lbs|
|Large||12-24 months||33-40 inches||~26-34lbs|
|12-24m||1-3 years||up to 39 inches||~26-34lbs|
|2/3T||3-6 years||up to 48 inches||~34-49lbs|
|4/5T||6-10 years||up to 56 inches||~49-87lbs|