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Sleep schedules: Why I feel they are important and how to establish one that works for your baby

Sleep schedules: you either love them or hate them. For your child’s health, and yours for that matter, they are necessary. Babies thrive on schedules, children thrive on schedules, and so do adults. If your child’s sleep schedule isn’t on point then you can experience issues like split nights, rejected naps, short naps, bedtime shenanigans (with toddlers), crying, and much more. Keep on reading to learn about when you should put your baby on a sleep schedule, and how to troubleshoot schedules depending on the age of your child and their sleep needs.


Babies 0 – 3 months

From newborn to 3 months sleep is disorganized and erratic. Babies may have day / night confusion and to help resolve this you should make sure you expose your little one to lots of light during the day and keep things calm and dark at night. Be sure your newborn doesn’t go more than 3 hours between a feed during the day. If they are sleeping, wake them, feed them and let them go back to sleep.

4 – 6 months old

At this age, it is crucial to begin a sleep schedule. For the best sleep possible a schedule is non-negotiable in my opinion. I recommend waking your baby at the same time each day and putting your baby down for the first nap at the same time each day to begin establishing the first nap. This is key to forming a consistent sleep schedule because over time this consistency will help the first nap lengthen.


Once the first nap has lengthened and is fairly regular, the second nap will develop. I also recommend keeping bedtime around the same 45-minute timeframe each day. Don’t vary bedtime too much. On short nap days you can absolutely put baby to bed 30 – 45 minutes earlier, but you want to try to keep bedtime as regular as possible so that it doesn’t affect night sleep and the next day nap lengths. Think of it this way: your baby has a sleep bucket. If you take too much of that sleep bucket and put it into night sleep then they will only have a little bit of sleep left in them for day naps. If you allow them to nap too much that will take up too much of their bucket of sleep and they will have less night sleep. There is a fine balance between day and night sleep, and crafting that balance is important hence why a schedule is necessary.


7 months to 14 months old

Around this time your baby may begin showing signs of needing two naps a day. You will continue waking at the same time each day, even knowing it is tempting to allow them to sleep in. Nap timing begins to become a moving target and if you do not push the nap schedule later by giving your little one more wake time then you may find that your baby is waking early in the morning on their own to compensate for needing more awake time, or your baby may begin having night wakings. If your baby is consistently showing a trend of waking up early for 5 days or more (this means daily for 5 days straight, not just a one off here and there) then it’s time to adjust the schedule to be age appropriate. This is where my essential sleep guide may become useful so that you can work on timing points. I also recommend a by the clock schedule at this age too to ensure that you are not getting too much day sleep or too much night sleep. As mentioned previously we need to keep the balance between day and night sleep.

15 months and beyond

It is age appropriate for a 15 month old to begin showing signs of needing only one nap a day BUT this is only true if you tried to preserve two naps by capping naps and waking a baby up early. You don’t want to rush into one nap because this can be too much for your little one. In fact, I like to keep two naps as long as possible. I want the baby to prove it to me that they need two naps. Proving to me means that you tried a schedule for a week that looked like this:

6:15 / 6:30 am wake

10 – 11 am nap (hard cap)

3 – 4pm nap (hard cap)

8/8:15 pm in bed


If after a week, you still have a baby that is protesting naps or bedtime or waking up at night for no obvious reason then it’s time to move onto one nap. The older your baby, the smoother the one nap transition will go. Ideally you want your nap to occur around 12/12:30 pm. A good one nap schedule would look something like this:


6:30 am wake

12:30 – 2:30 pm nap (hard cap)

7:30/8 pm in bed (there is a range here, so you can start with 7:30 pm and if it doesn’t work well for your baby then slowly move out by 10 minutes until you baby is accepting sleep within 5- 10 minutes)


To sum it up, establishing a sleep schedule is going to optimize sleep for your baby by helping her get the most sleep possible for growth and development, and it will help her body get used to falling asleep at the same time(s) each day. If you continue to vary sleep times, your child could be cranky or not get the proper sleep they need. Around 5 – 6 months you want to start crafting that schedule by waking your baby up at the same time each day, and then putting them down for nap 1 at the same time each day. You will want to keep bedtime within the same 45-minute range, but ideally around the same time each day. Once your baby is on a schedule they will thrive, and be happy and in return it can give you a little time for you. If your baby / toddler is already sleeping independently, but you need help with your schedule I am here to help. Below are the solutions I offer to get schedules in place:

Finally, I hope this post helps you. Happy Sleeping!




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