When I first heard of sleep schedules for babies, I assumed this meant for after the 3 month mark. Infants love to sleep, like anywhere, anytime! So why would I need to schedule him? Well, there were many reasons why, but here are some great reasons to try an infant sleep schedule.
- Knowing how much sleep that baby is really getting. I was concerned that Grayson wasn’t getting enough sleep, my husband thought he slept too much! Easy solution, put him on a schedule that was the appropriate amount of sleep.
- Some predictability. The first 2 weeks of Grayson’s life were all about keeping him alive. No seriously, it was an all consuming thought. The next 2 weeks we started to relax but we realized we had no idea what was coming at us next. Using a schedule allowed us to plan walks and run errands. I also knew what time to plan dinner or when we could meet with friends.
- Start creating good sleep hygiene. Lets be real, you can’t sleep train an infant. Each infant is different and they will do what they want despite your best efforts. But, having already set some basic sleep principles in place makes the transition to a real routine later on, that much easier.
My Sleep Plan
At 4 weeks old, I felt that Marwan and I needed Grayson on a schedule to help us get somewhat back to normal. We really did it for us. I started by researching a ton of different sleep schedules online and then I would write down every time Grayson ate and slept and for how long. Once I had a few days of tracking him, I compared it to my sample schedules. The one that was the closest match, I used! The biggest changes were setting a wake time and bed time that were consistent every day. Once we had a constant wake time, I could predict the next nap. At 4 weeks, Grayson would stay awake for 45 min- 1 hour at any stretch of time.
I planned out the time based on these 45 min stretches and then put feedings in accordingly. I am a big fan of BabyWise so I stuck with the Eat-Play-Nap idea and made sure no naps were immediately after eating. In only 2-3 days, Grayson was sticking with the plan like a champ! And we started to feel like we weren’t so scattered anymore.
It Isn’t All or Nothing
Remember that you are dealing with an infant so this won’t be perfect. Sometimes he would stay up later than one hour, other times he would crash in 30 minutes. There were also times when he would nurse and fall immediately into a deep sleep where he could sleep through an Armageddon. Go with the flow and adjust the times as needed. Don’t get too stressed about 5 minutes here and 20 minutes there, you are just starting the building blocks of sleep hygiene.
- At 2 weeks old, I started putting Grayson to bed when he was awake but groggy. At first, this was a 50/50 shot he would make it. Those newborns can sleep! But I still always tried and when the time came to really teach him to put himself to sleep, it was no work at all!
- Come up with a sleep routine. The early weeks are a good time to try things out because you won’t create confusion by doing different things to find what works. I read a lot about people giving baths before bedtime, this never worked for me. I found that putting him in his swaddle, reading a book, and then a minute or 2 of shushing while holding him are enough to get those eyes heavy. Keep it simple!
My Infant Sleep Schedule for Weeks 4-10
7:00 am – wake up and feed
8:00 am – down for a nap
10:00 am – feed, change diaper, play
11:00 am – down for a nap
1:00 pm – feed, change diaper, play
1:45 pm – down for a nap
3:45 pm – feed, change diaper, play
4:30 pm – down for a nap
6:30 pm – feed, change diaper, play
7:00 pm – catnap
8:00 pm – change diaper, put to bed for the night
10:30-11:00 pm – dream feed and immediately back to bed