Trying to figure out the best schedule for your child can feel monumental, especially when there is so much information floating around that varies.
Scheduling isn’t an exact science, moreover, sleep needs vary child to child. Just to make it more confusing, in the case of younger babies sleep needs tend to change so frequently it can feel impossible to keep up! A baby that’s overtired might need a certain amount of day sleep, but once caught up they’ll need less and so on. As a parent, trying to intervene and work out whether your child is under or overtired can feel impossible.
The best place to start when setting the schedule for your baby
The best place to start when scheduling your baby? A morning wake time! Pick a time where you can reliably wake your child every single day. This morning wake time becomes a jump off point for consistency that then frames the entire day. This is probably one of my most used sayings in this business but
Babies thrive on consistency and routine, and when we provide a consistent wake time for our children we are setting the framework for the day consistently every time.
Your Desired Wake Time (often referred to as a DWT) is the time you want your child to wake every day. Now, there are a number of different reasons why your child might wake early, and I cover those in more detail in my Newborn Foundations Package. For the purpose of schedule setting, we are going to use the DWT for framing the day. If you are having problems with early wakings get in touch!
Picking your wake time is as easy as selecting a time that works for your family. For 99% of families that I work with, that wake time is between 6:30 and 8 am It’s important to commit to your wake times and start your baby’s day at that wake time every day.
What time should your baby go to bed?
Setting bedtimes is even easier, because for most children it will be your wake time plus 12 hours. The reason for this is that most babies can only tolerate 12-13 hours of day time and need 11-12 hours of night sleep. You might find that as your baby ages schedules will change and shift, nap transitions and regressions occur and the result will be that bedtime might fluctuate by +/- 30 minutes.
Equally, you might find on a day that baby took one or more crappy naps and so bedtime needs to be brought forward. Crap naps happen, it’s a fact of life. More important than forcing your child to push forward is that you know how to adapt to that situation and provide baby the support they need to nail their next nap.
Using Wake Windows to Schedule Naps
Once you have book ended your day, you will use age appropriate wake windows and sleepy cues to create the schedule best suited to your little one. This will vary for every baby – two babies that are exactly the same age may even have different awake windows. Setting your schedule using wake windows takes trial and error but if you are logging naps over a few days you should see a natural schedule start to emerge.
Save this ^ for later!
Lastly, treat Wake Windows like a crescendo from start to finish. Many babies will have much shorter wake windows towards the beginning of the day, and finish the day with longer ones.
If you are having trouble working out the best schedule for your little one, book a FREE discovery call today! I would love to you about how I can help.