We live in a world that runs on schedules, and many new parents live for the day when their baby is on a schedule. Although I don’t see many babies get on a “fixed schedule” until closer to 7-9 months, it’s absolutely possible to have your child’s wake up time and bedtime be fairly consistent day to day, and here are four things you can do now to help your baby get there!
- Wake her up at a consistent time each morning. We want our babies’ body clocks to be set to about 12 hours of night, and 12 hours of day, so the “ideal” schedule is 7-7 (there’s of course wiggle room in there, because we’re not working with robots!). So figure out what time you want/need your baby to be awake in the morning and work her schedule from there.
- Get outside at least twice a day! When we were working on pulling Avery’s bedtime earlier, getting outside was key! I was in a pattern of taking Olivia outside while Avery was napping, so she got plenty of outside time, but Avery didn’t. Between her frequent naps and nursing, plus Olivia’s little schedule, it was tough! But I knew it was key to helping set Avery’s body clock, so we got into a pattern of heading out after Avery’s morning nap, and I often nurse her outside while Olivia runs around and/or sometimes we eat our lunch outside. Then after Avery’s afternoon nap and Olivia’s quiet time, we try to hop back outside. On occasion, we even try to throw in a little family walk before or after dinner. Even if only for 5 or 10 minutes, any time outside with that natural light and fresh air helps our kiddos’ body clocks set (adults’, too!). Extra tip: dimming the lights in your house as the evening approaches is also a good reminder to your baby’s body that it’s night time.
- Closely watch the wake-up time from her last nap. I do not love waking babies from sleep, but sometimes it’s necessary! You should aim for your baby’s bedtime to be between 6:30-8:00 pm, so depending on her awake window, you may need to wake her form that last nap in order to still get to bed on time. (For example: If your baby’s awake window is 2 hours and you’re aiming for bedtime to be around 7:00, make sure she doesn’t nap past 5:00!)
- Have a consistent bedtime routine. As the parent, we of course know it’s bedtime, but unless we have a consistent 20-30 minute bedtime routine, our babe may think she’s just going down for another nap. So make sure she knows this time is different! If you don’t know where to start with a bedtime routine, read here!
Our body clocks are strong, and it takes time to get our baby’s on a “schedule.” But consistency is key when it comes to anything baby-sleep related, so remember grace! Lots and lots of grace.