How to put baby on a feeding schedule


The Truth About Infant Schedules – Happiest Baby

By Dr. Harvey Karp, MD, FAAP

On This Page

  • Do babies need a schedule?
  • When to Start a Baby Schedule
  • What’s a good baby schedule?
  • Keep Baby’s Schedule Flexible
  • How a Baby Schedule Can Boost Sleep
  • All About the "Eat, Play, Sleep" Baby Schedule
  • A Bedtime Routine To Complement Your Baby Schedule

Scheduling is a modern concept. In ancient times, parents didn’t feed their babies or put them down for naps according to the time on the sundial. No one was following wake windows or charting their little one’s feeds on an app! But today’s parents live very differently than they did back then. Now, staying organized and adopting a schedule that works for your family can be a lifesaver. But how do you start—and when? Here’s my take on how to approach setting up a baby schedule.

Do babies need a schedule?

I believe in baby schedules. Of course, a rigid baby schedule that ignores a baby’s cries and changing needs is unnatural. But following a flexible baby schedule that sets approximate times—and realistic expectations—for feeding, sleep, and more can work quite well...and help bring peace to both Baby and parent.

When to Start a Baby Schedule

If you are going to try a baby schedule, I suggest you wait until they are about a month old—or until feeding is going really well. Trying to implement a baby schedule earlier is, well, pointless. Fresh-to-the-world babies are just getting used to life outside of the womb. Day is night. Night is day. Plus, newborns don’t crave schedules yet. Instead, all they want is to experience the sensations they’re used to from the womb. Your job? Be an A+ womb impersonator by offering a healthy dose of the 5 S’s, which are designed to transition babies into their fourth trimester. The 5 S’s include Swaddling, Shushing (aka white noise, Swinging (or rocking), holding in the Side or Stomach position, and Sucking.

What’s a good baby schedule?

Once your baby is roughly a month old, I suggest you do the following:

  • Carry your baby a lot. During-the-day babywearing helps little one’s learn the difference between day and night—and they get to enjoy an essential element of the 5 S’s—swinging.

  • Establish predictable feeding times. During the day, feed your love bug every hour-and-a-half to two hours then put them to bed…safely on the back in their own, empty sleep space, of course.

  • Feed in a quiet room. This helps Baby stay focused on the task at hand! Distracted babies often refuse to eat.

  • Tune into sleep cues. The goal is to start your baby’s nap before they’re yawning and droopy-eyed. (For help zeroing in on that sweet spot, learn all about wake windows.)

  • Turn white noise on. And dim the lights 20 minutes before naps and bedtime. This quiets your baby’s nervous system and gives a clear signal that sleepytime is coming. (White noise is an integral part of the 5 S’s for soothing babies, designed to activate their innate calming reflex, which is nature’s “off switch” for crying and “on switch” for sleep.

  • Use the wake-and-sleep technique. After you feed and burp your baby, allow them to fall asleep in your arms before you lay them in their bassinet. BUT after you put your bub down, gently rouse them with a light tickle on their feet until they open their eyes. After a few seconds, your baby will close their eyes again and slide back to sleep. This helps teach your baby how to self soothe. (If your little one fusses, pick them up for a feed or a cuddle, but then wake your baby again when you put them back down.)

  • Monitor naps. If your baby naps for over two hours, wake them up for their next play/feed period. (Long naps cause less daytime eating and more hunger at night.)

  • Offer a dream feed. Between roughly 10pm and midnight each night, gently rouse your baby—without fully waking them up—to feed them one more time before you turn in for the night. Filling Baby’s belly prepares them for a longer sleep period.

  • Don’t rush to respond to every noise. Babies are noisy sleepers! (Find out why babies make so many sleep sounds.) Try not to rush to respond to each grunt, moan…even cry. You little one may simply be moving through a sleep cycle. (Nighttime noises don’t always mean your baby is hungry.)

Keep your baby’s schedule flexible.

For most parents, a flexible eating and sleeping schedule is super-helpful. But the key word is flexible. If you’re planning a 1pm nap, but your little one is exhausted at 12:30pm, it’s fine to bend the “rules.” Just feed your baby and put them down early. And if your bub gets hungry before their “scheduled” feeding time, try distracting them, but respond with promptness and love if the fussing persists…and return to the schedule later. Rigid and strict schedules where you never deviate even if your baby is crying with hunger are contrary to our natural instincts. It makes us constantly watch the clock and can lead to underfed babies.

How a Baby Schedule Can Boost Sleep

Getting into a predictable daily rhythm has been shown to be good for Baby’s sleep. A study of breastfed babies featured in the journal Pediatrics found that two simple scheduling tweaks yielded a big improvement in sleep in the first two months:

  • Scheduling hack #1: Implement a dream feed. Between 10pm and midnight each night, gently rouse your baby—without fully waking them up—to feed them one more time before you turn in for the night.

  • Scheduling hack #2: Responding to nighttime cries this way. When your baby wakes and cries in the middle of the night, always hold or change them a few minutes before feeding them.

Within three weeks, 100% of the breastfed babies studied were sleeping five-hour stretches with these two steps, versus 23% of infants where no scheduling was tried.

All About the “Eat, Play, Sleep” Baby Schedule

Some experts advise an “eat, play, sleep” baby schedule. The idea here is, when your little one wakes up from a nap or night sleep, you feed them, play with them…then when the time comes, put them down for sleep again. You continue with this pattern throughout the day. The hope is that having a little play time separating the eating from sleeping will help babies learn to fall asleep without a feeding when they wake at 2am.

While this sounds logical, the “eat, play, sleep” baby schedule actually goes against your baby’s biology. Infants get sleepy after feedings, no matter how much you prod and play with them. Also, before bedtime, you want to fill your little one’s tummy to prolong their sleep!

A Bedtime Routine To Complement Your Baby Schedule

Most babies are very receptive to a bedtime routine at around 6 to 8 weeks. Establishing a bedtime routine for your new baby helps to calm them and ease them into a good night’s sleep. Follow the same reassuring sample baby routine every night:

  1. Dim the lights. Exposure to bright light in the hour or so before night-night makes falling asleep more difficult.

  2. Play soft white noise in the background. White noise is not bird sounds, waves, or lullabies. White noise is continuous, monotonous, and low pitch. And the ideal white noise mimics the loud rumbly sounds Baby heard in the womb. (SNOO and SNOObear both feature the best white noise for sleep.)

  3. Offer a toasty bath. A baby’s body temperature drops a few degrees post-bath, which signals the body that it’s time for night-night.

  4. Give a loving massage. Research shows that baby massage can improve the quality of baby sleep—even more so for a little one who has poor sleep quality. I like to use warm massage oil, too, like coconut, grapeseed oil, or safflower oil. Warm the oil by leaving it at room temperature and rubbing your hands together.

  5. Swaddle your baby. I like to swaddle babies before a feed, but some babies prefer to be swaddled afterward…so see which works best for you! Either way, swaddling is an important S in the 5 S’s that helps bring on sleep.

  6. Feed your baby. Babies are designed to snooze after drinking yummy milk!

  7. Play a soft lullaby. A 2021 Harvard University study found that when babies listened to lullabies, they became more relaxed than when they listened to other music. While lullabies should not replace white noise, they are a great addition to a calming bedtime routine. (Here are some great: lullabies for babies.)

Within a week, this bedtime routine will begin to work like hypnosis. Soon, you’ll find that both you and your baby will be getting more sleep!

More help getting your baby on a schedule:
  • A Sleep Schedule for Your Baby's First Year
  • Baby Feeding Schedule for the First Year
  • Learn About Baby’s Sleep Cycles
  • When Do Babies Start Sleeping Through the Night?
  • Wake Window Need-to-Know

About Dr.

Harvey Karp

Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, is the founder of Happiest Baby and the inventor of the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper. After years of treating patients in Los Angeles, Dr. Karp vaulted to global prominence with the release of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. His celebrated books and videos have since become standard pediatric practice, translated into more than 20 languages and have helped millions of parents. Dr. Karp’s landmark methods, including the 5 S’s for soothing babies, guide parents to understand and nurture their children and relieve stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying, and toddler tantrums.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.

How to get a newborn to sleep at night

If your baby is wide awake at night and sleeping all day, you're not alone. Many new parents spend hours awake with their newborns when they're desperate for some rest.

Newborns wake for a variety of reasons, including hunger and discomfort. While sleeping through the night is the dream of most parents, waking frequently to nurse, bottle-feed, or comfort your baby is normal at this age. Newborns need to eat every 2 to 4 hours to gain weight during those first several months of life.

But if your baby is wide awake for extended stretches of time after being fed, changed, and cuddled, there's plenty you can do to encourage them to get to sleep.

Why newborns sleep all day and stay up all night

No one knows why newborns often have their nights and days reversed. And newborns sleep so much (around 16 hours a day) that it may seem like they're always sleeping – except when you're ready to crash.

You may have noticed during pregnancy that your baby was still and quiet during the day, but had a dance party in your uterus as soon as you lay down. When you're standing up and moving about during the day, gravity is pulling your uterus down, compressing your baby a bit and soothing them into sleep (just like swaddling a newborn). Once you lie down for the night, your uterus stretches out some and your baby has more room to wiggle – which they take advantage of.

If your baby sleeps during the day and seems to be more active at night while in the womb, that doesn't necessarily mean they'll be a night owl once they're born – though it may impact their sleeping patterns in those first days and weeks after birth.

Labor could also disrupt your newborn's sleeping patterns, especially if you had a long labor and delivery late at night. This usually lasts only a few days, though.

Some babies may sleep less at night because they're mimicking their mother's sleep patterns. For instance, research has shown that if a pregnant woman doesn't sleep well during the second and third trimesters, their baby may not sleep as well after they're born.

How to get your newborn to sleep at night

These tips can help you create an environment and routine that will encourage healthy sleep habits as your baby gets older.

  • Meet your baby's needs during the day. Newborns need 8 to 12 feedings over a 24-hour period and plenty of bonding time with their caregivers. If you make sure your baby is eating enough and getting plenty of attention during the day, you may have more luck getting them to sleep at night.
  • Watch for signs your baby is ready for sleep. Waiting until your newborn is overtired can actually make sleep more difficult. Signs that they're sleepy but not overtired include rubbing their eyes, yawning, looking away from you, and fussing.
  • When bedtime (and nap time) rolls around, keep your baby's room quiet and dark, and use only a soft light or a nightlight for nighttime feedings and diaper changes. Talk to them quietly and move slowly. Be brief and boring rather than engaging. Consider getting blackout curtains to keep your baby's room dark when it's time to sleep.
  • Be patient. Most babies adjust to the family schedule with time and a consistent routine. In the meantime, when your baby is just a few weeks old, try gently coaxing them into following a more reasonable schedule.
  • Keep in mind that your baby may sleep well one night and terribly the very next night. You'll have good nights (and days) and rough ones for a while. But as your baby's nervous system matures, their sleep cycles will lengthen and they'll sleep more at night rather than during the day.

How to keep your newborn awake during the day

It isn't uncommon for newborns to establish a routine of sleeping the day away and then being awake when the sun goes down. There are a few things you can do to help your baby reverse this habit.

  • Differentiate between night and day. Just as you're trying to keep nighttime calm and quiet, create an environment during the day that lets your baby know it's time to learn and play. Open blinds and curtains, play and interact with your baby, and don't be afraid to be a little noisy.
  • Establish a wake-up time and stick to it, even if your baby was up most of the night. Sleeping in may seem like a good thing, but it won't help you reach your goal of sleeping soundly at night.
  • Wake your baby for regular feedings during the day. Your little one needs to eat between 8 and 12 times every 24 hours. If those feedings don't happen during the day, many babies will make up for it overnight. (Newborns need nighttime feedings, so you won't be able to eliminate those, but making sure your newborn eats regularly during the day may help you stretch the interval between nighttime feedings to every three or four hours.)
  • If your baby often drifts off during a feeding, they might not eat as much as they need to during the day. Keep your baby alert during daytime feedings by rubbing their back, playing with their toes, and undressing them so they don't get too cozy.

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Daily routine for a child under 1 year old

Daily routine is a system for distributing periods of sleep and wakefulness, meals, hygiene and health procedures, activities and independent human activities throughout the day.

Compliance with a rational daily routine corresponding to the age characteristics of the child contributes to his healthy growth and development. Getting used to performing various types of activities at the same time, the child is prepared for the upcoming type of activity at every moment of time, which ensures their easier and faster implementation. Compliance with the correct daily routine provides a good mood for the child and maintains a keen interest in the study of the world around him, contributing to his normal motor and psychoverbal development.

The child's daily routine includes the following obligatory elements: diet, time spent outdoors during the day, frequency and duration of sleep, mandatory classes to develop skills in accordance with age, free time.

In the first months after birth, a healthy newborn baby sleeps for most of the day, since all external stimuli are very strong for the nervous system of a child, accustomed to a cozy intrauterine environment, and cause its rapid exhaustion. As the child grows older, the duration of sleep gradually decreases and the time of wakefulness increases.

Age Daytime sleep mode Night sleep Wake mode
From birth to 2 months 6 x 2.5 hours 6 hours During feeding
2-4 months 5 times 2-2.5 hours 6.5 hours 4 x 1.5 hours
4-6 months 4-5 times for 2 hours 7 hours 4 times 2 hours
6-9 months 3-4 times for 1.5-2 hours 8 hours 4 x 2.5 hours
9-12 months 2 x 1. 5-2 hours 9-10 hours 4 times for 3-4 hours

Closely related to the sleep-wake mode is the feeding mode of the baby. The sleep of a child in the first months of life is very sensitive and is easily disturbed under the influence of various extraneous stimuli, including hunger.

Age Mode Example
From birth to 2 months 7-8 times, every 3 hours 6,9,12,15,18,21,24 (no night feeding)
From 2 to 6 months 6-7 times, every 3.5 hours

6, 9.30, 13, 16.30, 20, 23.30 (without night feeding)

6, 9.30, 13, 16.30, 20, 23.30, 03 (with night feeding)

From 7-12 months 5 times, every 4 hours 6,10,14,18,22

A child's stay in the fresh air is essential in the daily routine. The total duration of stay in the open air for children under 1 year of age should be at least 5-6 hours a day. Fresh air has a calming effect on the baby, improves metabolic processes, and increases the body's defenses. In the summer, all games and activities should be held outdoors; in the cold and transitional seasons, two one-time walks of 1.5-2 hours are provided.

Fresh air also has a beneficial effect on sleep. By acting on the skin and mucous membranes of the nose and upper respiratory tract, it provides a faster fall asleep of the child and a higher quality of sleep. Sleeping outside can replace a walk, especially during the cold season.

The child's daily routine is generally individual, but ideally, one should strive to ensure that the child eats after waking up, and then stays awake until the next sleep. A well-slept baby eats with appetite and then calmly and actively plays or engages, and tired of games, easily goes to sleep.

When your baby is awake, try to keep him active and cheerful. It is necessary to dress the child in loose clothing that does not hinder movement, provide access to toys appropriate for his age, and most importantly, actively participate in games and activities with the baby as a whole family.
Author - Physiotherapist - DMITRIENKO T.G.

newborn sleep and feeding schedule

02/26/2019

10

Your baby is almost 5 weeks old and do you remember how the first month was filled with new emotions, doubts and discoveries for you and your baby? But now you better understand your monthly baby and strive to organize a comfortable daily routine for your child. “What is important to consider at this age? How many hours of sleep and wake is enough for a child?

How to organize an exemplary diet and feeding of a newborn this month?” - Frequently asked questions by new parents. Let's explore them together!

Child's daily routine

1 month

In the first month of life, sleep is extremely important for the development of children, their growth and mood. Therefore, it is necessary to pay special attention to organizing the rest of the crumbs.

The baby sleeps approximately 17-20 hours a day. At the same time, some children of this age sleep more, others less.

Normally night sleep is 7-10 hours with awakenings for feeding, and daytime sleep is about 8-9 hours. With this mode, you will notice that the baby sleeps 4-6 times a day. It is important to remember that a newborn's daytime sleep can be either short (20-40 minutes) or longer (up to 3 hours).

This is due to the fact that the brain of a newborn is not yet physiologically mature, the biological clock is not formed, so the child does not have any clear regimen. It turns out that you will not be able to achieve one schedule daily yet. Also, leaving at night can change and be quite late. You will also notice that the baby during the rest gurgles, moves and does not seem to be actually sleeping. The fact is that now the child sleeps mainly in the fast phase, so now children's sleep is quite restless.

Waking time is the second important point that should be taken into account when shaping the routine of a one-month-old baby. On average, the baby should be awake for up to 60 minutes. Focus on the time that the child slept in the previous daytime sleep - as much as possible he can hold out in the state of wakefulness. This will also help organize the baby's routine this month.

Avoid overexertion and watch the time of activity between sleeps. Do not be afraid to soothe a newborn baby by any means.

What can be done to make the baby sleep better:

  • Swaddle your baby - so he calms down faster and does not wake himself up with his arms and legs.
  • Organize sleep in your stroller. Babies tend to sleep longer outdoors. How long it takes to walk depends on the time of year. In summer it is possible up to 2-3 hours in a row, in winter - depending on the weather conditions. If it's too cold outside, the best way out is to lay the child on the balcony.

  • If the baby has difficulty falling asleep in the evening, dim the lights in advance, turn on white noise.

  • Use a sling or chaise longue if the baby is completely capricious.
  • Start bedtime when you see the first signs of tiredness in your baby - this is exactly the time when he wants to sleep.
  • Remember that changing your bed can wake up your baby. If you decide to transfer a sleeping baby from your arms to the crib, do it 20 minutes after falling asleep, when the baby is fast asleep.
  • Bathe your baby before bed. Soon, bathing for him will be a signal to end the day and prepare for bed.
  • Give your baby a pacifier if he can't sleep. Just remember that it is better to start using a pacifier when breastfeeding after lactation is established.
  • Use a weak night light during night feeding.

Causes of poor sleep in a 1 month old baby can be:

1. Physical discomfort. In the evening, the baby may begin an attack of colic, which lasts from 2 to 6 hours. Support the baby in every possible way on such days - by 6 weeks relief will come. Also remember that the baby takes over your state. A calm mother is a calm baby. Therefore, try not to forget about your rest too and do not worry if the regime is violated.

2. Confusion of day and night. Due to the not yet formed circadian rhythms, a 1-month-old baby may sleep more during the day than at night. But already by 1.5 months, the baby will begin to sleep at night for up to 3-5 hours in a row. Take the baby to bright light during the day, and dim the light at night - so the baby's body will quickly adjust the internal clock. Try to start the morning early so that the child understands that the day has come. Carrying out hygiene procedures will become for him an association with the morning.

The table shows the sleep norms of a baby in the first month of life:

Baby feeding regimen

1 month

A newborn baby basically eats every 2-3 hours, regardless of the time of day. Therefore, do not worry if the child often wakes up at night now.

IV babies eat less frequently because formula takes longer to digest than breast milk.

Today's pediatricians advise in the first weeks of a breastfed baby's life to organize meals on demand in order to establish lactation. Night feeding also occurs on demand.

Gradually, you will learn to understand when the baby is hungry and asks for breasts. Also during this period, breasts are a way for children to satisfy the sucking reflex, calm down and relax.

When breastfeeding, the baby does not need water or other fluids for the first 6 months.

After the first month, the intervals between feedings will gradually increase. This will allow you to establish a more flexible mode when breastfeeding.

After a month, the break between feedings will increase, and you can move on to establishing a flexible regimen.


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