Every parent knows that their baby will wake up often during the first few weeks. One of the main reasons is that they don’t distinguish between day and night, so they sleep around the clock. And since their stomachs are tiny and don’t hold enough milk to keep them nourished, they often wake up to eat, regardless of what time it is.
However, that doesn’t stop parents from trying to put their newborns to sleep at specific times to help them adapt to a fixed schedule. But that begs the question: at what time should newborns go to bed? Keep reading to find out!
What Time Should Newborns Go to Bed?
As a rule of thumb, you should put your baby to sleep at around 10‒11 PM and then earlier as they get older. But keep in mind that each child is different, so you might have to test a couple of varying bedtime hours and see which one works best.
If you need help, here are a few general guidelines that you can use to determine when you should put your baby to sleep depending on their age:
• Newborn to 2-month-old: Nighttime sleep should start around 10 PM. Remember that your baby will wake up often throughout the night to eat. So don’t be surprised if your child doesn’t sleep more than 4‒5 hours a night.
• 2 to 4-month-old: At this stage, you can comfortably put your baby to sleep a bit earlier, at 9 PM. You’ll notice that, while they sleep longer, they still wake up for a feeding or two. As a result, your baby’s 5‒8 hours of sleep a night are completely normal.
• 4 to 8-month-old: When your child hits the 4-month mark, they should be tired enough to go to sleep at around 7‒9 PM. They might even sleep for 6‒10 hours without interruptions, making most parents happy.
• 8 to 12-month-old: Usually, 8- to 12-month-old babies can go to sleep at 7‒8 PM without any hissy fits and sleep way over 7 hours a night.
• 12-month-old: Finally, as your baby gets closer to their first birthday, you can change the bedtime to 7 PM. And, with a bit of luck, you might be able to enjoy up to 10 hours of sleep, as your child won’t wake up as often as they used to.
Baby Sleep Schedule
Generally speaking, you want your child to have a consistent sleep schedule in order to prevent them from being overtired. While it’s hard for newborns to follow a schedule, there are a few pointers you can use to better understand how much sleep your child should get.
Newborn to 2-Month-Old Baby Sleep Schedule
During the first months, babies sleep on and off, constantly waking to breastfeed, usually about 12 times a day. They should be getting a total of 14 to 18 hours of sleep a day, thanks to naps and nighttime.
The daytime cycle is almost 2 hours of awake time followed by 2 hours of napping. If your baby’s naps go over 1.5 hours in their second month, it’s good to wake them for a feeding. Otherwise, your child might wake up in the middle of the night and ask for food. But you can always use swaddling, white noise, and motion to help put your baby to sleep effectively.
2 to 4-Month-Old Baby Sleep Schedule
By now, your baby will nap and sleep a bit less, often reaching 14 hours of snooze per day. However, most babies this age wake up around 6 AM, so you’ll have to adapt them to 2‒3 daily naps, which should total 8 hours of sleep.
It’s important to mention that, at this stage, your baby might experience 3-month sleep regression. If that happens, they will start waking up like newborns every few hours and won’t want to cuddle or play. You can help prevent it by encouraging daytime feedings and fitting in more outdoor playtime.
4 to 8-Month-Old Baby Sleep Schedule
When your baby passes the 4-month mark, they will begin to sleep 12 to 14 hours a day. Their day will now start at around 7‒8 AM, depending on how tired they were the day before. Make sure that your baby gets 3 naps, totaling 5 hours a day, so that they won’t throw a tantrum before bedtime.
Teething also starts between 4 and 6 months, meaning that your baby will experience gum pain and act fussy. You can use white noise to help your baby tune out pain or other distractions that can disrupt their sleep.
8 to 12-Month-Old Baby Sleep Schedule
As your baby gets closer to turning one year old, they will maintain a consistent schedule. More specifically, they will sleep 12 to 14 hours a day with 2‒3 naps that total 4‒5 hours. During this stage, your baby will crawl and even start to walk. As a result, they often wake up wanting to get out and explore the house.
12-Month-Old Baby Sleep Schedule
Babies that are one year old have a pretty fixed sleep schedule, which often implies 12 to 14 hours of sleep in a full day’s cycle. Their day starts at 7 AM and features one or two long naps.
You’ll notice that, while they don’t wake up as often during nighttime, they will still require some convincing to go to sleep. And since your baby is now officially a toddler, you’ll have to learn new ways to communicate with them. But with a bit of patience, you can crack the code and learn new ways to make your toddler sleep.