Sleep Schedule by Age

Newborn baby sleeping in a crib.

I want to start off by saying that all babies and families are different. There is not a one size fits all sleep schedule that works for everyone. Babies hit milestones at different times which correlates with changes in their sleep and wake times.

With that being said it does help to have something to go off of. As a first time mom it helped immensely to have a reference point. Even though my second was only 2.5 years later I definitely needed a refresh and had read up on it again.

(If you don’t want to read my personal experience jump right to the chart)

When should my baby start napping on a schedule?

Tired mother holding tired baby hoping he will take a nap soon.

With my first, I was more rigid about his nap schedule once I got him on one. He truly slept better at night when he got the appropriate amount of daytime sleep and went to bed at the right time (for him). I was able to be more rigid at the time. First, because it was 2020 and there wasn’t much to do anyway. Second, the only thing I had to do was focus on my one baby. This is not the case for working parents or parents with multiple kids.

The second time around the weather had just turned when it came the right time to get my baby napping in his crib on a schedule. I didn’t mind having to stay home in order to make it happen. This was around 2.5-3 months old. (Some people can get their babies on a schedule sooner than this) We had a great end of summer and first half of fall going to parks and doing activities. Baby would just sleep on me in the carrier whenever he was tired. There was no set time or paying attention wake windows. I was grateful for that because when you have another child that still needs to go out and do things and socialize it’s harder to be rigid with the second baby’s naps.

Around 2.5-3 months I decided I needed him to take naps in his crib. He was old enough and I knew it was definitely possible for him. I love my baby snuggles, but my body needed a break from holding him constantly (most naps were on me, though it had been possible from the beginning to set him in his bassinet for naps, it just wasn’t predictable). Another very important reason it was time for this to happen was my toddler needed one on one time with me. I wanted to be able to play with him without his brother strapped to me in a carrier.

What are wake windows?

Dad puts baby down awake for a nap in his crib.

At this age babies typically do not follow a by the clock sleep schedule. That usually doesn’t come until after 1 years old when baby transitions to one nap that typically happens at the same time every day. Instead naps and bedtime are based around wake windows. This is the amount of time a baby a of certain age can typically stay awake between sleeps. A baby’s first nap will depend on when they woke up that day and their next nap will depend on how long the first nap was. Therefore nap and bedtime varies day to day. As they get older it can get a little more predictable, but you never really know for sure.

Below is a chart that can give you a reference point for baby’s sleep schedule by age following wake windows and a set amount of naps. I used the chart from Baby Sleep Science as a starting point, but tweaked it based on my own experience and how I thought the chart should be set up and what should be included. Similar information can be found all over the web from a variety of great resources. Here are links to more resources on baby sleep schedules and baby sleep in general: Taking Cara Babies, What to Expect, The Happiest Baby, Huckleberry Blog

You might be wondering “How do I keep track of sleep and wake times?” Well, if you are good with setting timers on your phone or watch that is a good method. Some people prefer to keep track of it in a written log. I have a hard time paying attention to the time or remembering when baby woke up if it is not marked down.

I am going to tell you about an app that I swear by. It is called Huckleberry and it keeps track of everything for you. This app helped me get 2 babies napping in the crib on a “schedule” beautifully. I always recommend it to moms who talk to me about having trouble getting on a nap schedule. There are also tools in the app to keep track of feeding, diapers, and more. Additionally, they send you personalized recommendations based on your baby’s sleep data. If you are like me and need something to help you stay on track with your baby’s sleep schedule then this app is a must!

I hope this post and chart was helpful and gave you a good reference point for getting your baby on a sleep schedule. Remember, it is only a reference point. There is nothing wrong with your baby if they do not sleep exactly how the chart says they should at a certain age.

A predictable nap time is such a gift in my opinion, especially when you just have one baby. Man, I miss those days of having 2-3 hours of the day where I knew I could either nap myself, get something done, or just enjoy some me time. These days it is still really nice to know my 8 month old will go down twice for 1-2 hours and I can focus on my 3 year old (who stopped napping when his brother was born, but that is a story for another post).

Baby taking a nap in his stroller.

Final thoughts- I want you to know that having a nap schedule does not mean you are tied to your house all day every day. Yes, in the beginning wake windows are shorter and you are trying to get baby used to it so you may be home more. Then wake windows get longer and you can go places between them. If you don’t make it back for nap time that’s okay. Car naps are fine, stroller naps are fine, carrier naps are fine. Have fun, live your life, it is not going to ruin baby’s nap schedule once established. I just try not to do that multiple days in a row. It’s all about balance.

Happy Napping!

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