The More They Sleep, The More They Sleep
The earlier your baby goes down for the night, the better…
It’s true, the more sleep your baby gets, the more he or she will sleep. It’s so important to get your baby on some kind of sleep schedule and for you to stick to it as much as possible, especially when you’re first getting started. If your baby is three months or older, then it’s probably about time for you to think about getting them on a sleep schedule.
Studies have shown that babies thrive off of routine because they like knowing what to expect. A sleep schedule is important because it gives babies a sense of security. Also, no parent wants their baby to be cranky because it’s overtired. Getting a sleep schedule in place can help create good sleep habits and optimal sleep situations for your baby.
Parent Misconceptions About Baby Sleep
Some parents mistakenly think that if their baby took a long nap during the day that they should put them to bed later at night. Some newborns don’t go to sleep until 10 or 11 at first so when parents try to set a bedtime, they unknowingly set it way later than it should be.
Your baby’s wake times shouldn’t extend just because they’re getting a lot of good sleep.
The earlier a baby goes down for the night, the better. Between 7 and 8pm is actually pretty standard. Most babies should be sleeping about 10-12 hours at night. It’s a good rule of thumb to pick a bedtime based on what time they wake up naturally or what time you’d like them to wake up in the morning. For example, if your baby wakes up around 7am, their bedtime should be around 7pm. It’s important to pay attention to how many hours of sleep (including day and night sleep) your baby needs at each age. You can find a good guide for the amount of sleep they need by age, here.
So, like I said, the more sleep your baby gets, the more he or she will sleep, not the opposite. I know it seems counter intuitive. You’d think the more sleep they got, the more they’d be able to stay awake, right? WRONG. If your baby sleeps 10-12 hours at night, they still need a nap 1 to 2 hours after they wake up depending on their age. Your baby’s wake times shouldn’t extend just because they’re getting a lot of good sleep.
Keeping Track of Baby’s Sleep
It’s important to keep track of what times your baby is waking and going to sleep. This will help you determine what time you need to lay them down. Also, keep an eye on your babies sleep cues, such as yawning, rubbing eyes or pulling on ears. Put your baby down at the first sign of tiredness OR about 15 minutes BEFORE you think your baby will need to be asleep. If your baby wakes up at 7am and their max wake time is two hours, then put them down for a nap at 8:45am. If you see any sleep cues before that, then it might even be safe to put them down earlier.
It takes a person between 7 and 15 minutes to fall asleep if they’re tired. If they are overtired or restless it will likely take longer. This is why you should lay your baby down about 15-20 minutes before they need to be asleep. This gives them a good amount of time to fall asleep comfortably without passing up that prime sleeping window.
Putting a baby down to sleep too late can cause them to struggle to fall sleep and to sleep for shorter stretches. When this happens, put them down earlier for their next nap to make up for their lost sleep. Don’t mistakenly let them stay up until their next scheduled nap time. This will put them beyond tired and start a cycle of what I call, over-tiredness. Sometimes my baby would sleep longer or shorter for a nap. This is why I would put them down again based on how long they had been awake rather than adhering to a set time.
Once you start tracking your baby’s sleep, start putting them down at the right times and staying consistent, they’re sleeping habits should improve.
For information on sleep routines or for help with a baby who will only fall asleep while nursing or bottle-feeding, view this article!