Age-based Routine Suggestions

Age-based Routine Suggestions

We’ve put together some recommendations to help parents establish a steady and successful routine for their baby throughout their first 12 months. This is a guide only, every baby is different and will have different sleep needs, but we hope this helps tired mums and dads!

Parents should be familiar with the following points:

  • Your baby’s unique sleep needs, and the medically recommended wake windows for each developmental stage
  • Signs of your baby’s over-tiredness
  • How often your baby should be feeding, in proportion to his or her weight

0-6 weeks

When your baby is newborn, they only need a basic routine; 5-6 naps comprising 2-3 hours of sleep per day, with a feed, change and cuddles in between. At this age, babies can only be awake for approximately one hour at a time. We recommend starting a steady night time wind-down routine from birth, and making this an obvious change so that your baby learns this is their final lay down before the overnight sleep.

Nappy changes and un-swaddling are signals to a baby that it is time to be awake, and so doing these things only after a baby has just woken up, or significantly before the bedtime routine, will help keep things clear (although of course, changing a soiled nappy at any point in the day or night is advisable for hygiene reasons - unsoiled & only wet diapers are less likely to disturb your baby).

6 weeks - 3 months

After 6 weeks, babies are able to be awake for up to an hour and a half at a time. The previous routine can be adapted to include more play while awake, including tummy time, with only 4-5 sleeps needed if your baby sleeps for longer periods.

3-6 months

By 3 months, babies need to begin a more structured routine, and you will need to teach them to go back to sleep after a night feed, and wake them at a set time each day. Waking between 6am and 7am each day is normal, and your baby should engage in some stimulated activity before taking another nap.

Naps of around 2 hours can continue throughout the day, with awake periods of around an hour and a half. An afternoon nap can be a little shorter, around 45 minutes, in preparation to drop this nap entirely at around 6 months.

During this time, the bedtime routine should be maintained, trying to keep bedtime to the same time every single night. Babies that are still napping after 5pm in the afternoon might struggle to go to bed at 6 or 7pm, which is what you want as that makes their night feed around 11pm rather than 2am. A 6 or 7pm bedtime is optimal for a maintainable schedule. If babies wake anytime between the early hours of the morning and won’t settle easily, an extra night feed may be necessary.

6-9 months

Babies can now stay awake for longer periods of time - around 2.5 - 3 hours. They should eat several solid meals during the day, with set times for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They should also have separate timings for bottle feeds or breastfeeds, and you may want to keep this as part of their bedtime routine. Waking at 6am and going to bed at 6pm is an optimum outcome and gives your baby 10-12 hours sleep per night. Night feeds may continue, however this will depend on your baby’s daytime diet and how many calories they are able to consume.

By 9 months, naps can be reduced to just 2 per day, at only around 1 or 2 hours long. 6 months and onwards you can also start to consider moving your baby to their own / another room.

9-12 months

At 9 months, babies can now be awake for 3-4 hours at a time, and they are much more active now! So they may be rolling around, trying to crawl and pull themselves up, so they will be much more tired when they are finally ready to go down. They need high quality sleep to recuperate and keep developing their little minds!

By this point, if your nightly routine has been successful, your baby should be used to going down at 6-7pm each night, and still getting their 10-12 hours overnight. They can still nap around twice per day for an hour or 2.

They will be eating more, and snacks may be needed throughout the day to keep them full while sleeping.*

*Adapted from original article by Love To Dream Australia - Facts verified by Jo Ryan, child sleep expert at Babybliss and a registered nurse of 20 years experience, with much of that time spent working in paediatrics.

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