When you first bring your new baby home, it can be really difficult to understand their sleeping patterns. It seems they’re awake at night, sleeping all day, feeding around the clock.. For new parents it can be completely bewildering. This bedtime guide is designed to help you work through and troubleshoot your first few months of baby bedtimes.
The first two weeks
During the first two weeks at home with your baby there really is no bedtime. During this time, you’re going to focus on reversing day and night confusion. This means helping your little learn to separate day from night by exposing them to lots of light during the day, capping naps at 2 hours, and ensuring regular feedings. At night, keep lighting low during feedings, keep wake times strictly to feeding and diaper changes, do your best not to over engage with your baby so they can learn that nighttime is for sleeping and daytime is for play. Pay close attention to the developing stretches asleep as this will help you establish when to set bedtime for the first few months.
Weeks 3 through 10
Weeks three through ten are all about setting the foundations for great baby sleep. You should expect baby’s bedtime to be between 9pm and 11pm. You’ll set this bedtime based on when your little has their longest stretch of sleep. At this age you can expect the stretch to elongate from 2-3 hours to as many as 6-7.
Let’s bring that bedtime forward! Around week 11 (plus or minus depending on what works for your babe) you can start to bring bedtime earlier. To do this, you are going to bring your bedtime forward by 15-30 minutes each day, being mindful of the wake window with your child’s last nap.
Weeks 16 forward
By about week 16 you will start to notice that baby’s routine has become significantly more predictable. With
- If you haven’t already set a wake time, pick a time that you can sustainably start your day everyday. This is my most important tip for any and all parents. Start your day at the same time each and every day. For most parents this time will fall some time between 7 and 8. There are always outliers, and the best time for your family may fall before or after.
- All babies need roughly 11-12 hours nightsleep, and so by default, bedtime is your wake time +12 hours. Once you are in a routine with wake up and naps, you will see a consistent time for bedtime.
Once you have established your wake time and your bedtime, your day is roughly anchored in a routine that so many of my parents find extremely helpful.
Bedtime rituals are great aids in help your little one separate day and night sleep. We can use these rituals as signals, creating a clear separation between night and day. My favourite tool for bedtime rituals are bathtime; this is the strongest marker to your baby that the day is over, night has begun. Baths are also wonderful tools in helping your baby relax during the dreaded witching hour and relax for a longer, deeper stretch of sleep. Bedtime rituals can look like this:
6:15pm change into pyjamas, read stories
6:30pm swaddle tightly, feed bottle
7pm lights out
When it comes to bedtime, take your time. Often in the earlier months bedtime rituals will take up your entire last wake window of the day. Turn the lights down low, read stories, snuggle, and enjoy the opportunity to connect with your little one. As they grow older, and become more aware of their surroundings, this time can offer an opportunity for reassurance and love.
Need help? Our Scheduling and Sleep Guide package may be best for you! Get in touch to find out how we help your little one get the rest they need.