When should I start a sleep schedule for my newborn is a question many moms ask when they are looking for a bit more predictability, let’s dig right in.
So you’ve had a perfect baby, are home from the hospital, are having hormone fog (a name I gave the twilight zone feeling of having a newborn), and now you’re yearning for a bit of predictability.
You want to be sure baby is getting all the milk, snuggles, and sleep he or she needs to grow up and thrive.
When should I start a sleep schedule for my newborn?
You can aim towards a newborn sleep schedule anytime after those first few days at home. Essentially, you’re going to give baby full feeds every 2 to 3 hours (choosing a bedtime and possibly a morning wake up time) and, pretty soon, you’ll be on a predictable schedule.
Those first few weeks are really a time of you getting to know your baby, their sleep cues, and fixing any day night confusion they may have going on. You won’t be able to achieve a ton of predictability, but you will be able to set up a scaffolding both you and the baby will benefit from later.
Like the following:
- Not having your first “wake up morning feed” be at 10 a.m.
- Not putting baby to bed too late and missing out on all that deep sleep before midnight
- Helping baby’s long sleep stretches be at NIGHT not during the DAY
How long should newborns be awake?
As a certified baby sleep consultant having helped thousands of mothers and babies, I can categorically say that observing and respecting a newborn’s wake window will be a fast ticket to having a settled baby.
You count “awake time” from the START of a feed. So if baby starts feeding at 8:30 a.m. and goes to sleep at 9:45 a.m. they have been awake 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Newborn Settling Guide
Tried-and-true *hands on* newborn settling strategies that even the most fussy (or wide-awake-sleep-refusing) newborns cannot resist!Learn More
That’s how you clock awake windows.
You do NOT only count the time after feeding stops before napping begins.
Most newborns can go between 45 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes awake before needing another nap. You can watch your baby closely to see if they are dozing off, getting that glazed look in their eyes, rubbing their eyes, yawning, etc. and then you’ll know they’re ready for a nap.
Better to put them in the crib too soon, rather than too late.
Nap Times Cheat Sheet
Learn how to space naps, how many a day per age, best times, etc. and get your nap game ON!
What is a realistic newborn sleep schedule?
I’ve written a super specific (highly bookmarked) post on this very thing, week by week. You can get my ultimate newborn sleep schedule: week by week, here.
Here’s why routines are so useful for babies and mamas.
- You know babies needs will be met in predictable intervals which will prevent baby from having to scream and wail (and you to try and figure out why)
- YOU can meet your own postpartum and self-care needs because you’ll be able to pinpoint times of day to get things done that need doing
- Routines give you a guideline of what baby needs. You’ll quickly begin to understand baby’s different cries and will be able to meet their true need. AKA, putting them down for a nap when they cry instead of shoving them on your boob when they aren’t hungry, but exhausted.