Sleeping baby

Sleeping baby

Babies are all very different.

These routines are a guide only.

Your child is strongly influenced by the environment, daily activities and routines. A predictable routine (sequence of activities) including a wind down period (for example, meal, bath, story time, brief cuddle and kiss, and into the cot) helps your child establish good sleep patterns. The feed, play, sleep routine is the core structure of a baby's day at any age. As your baby matures, day playtime increases and night patterns continue but without playtime.

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Your baby is unique therefore their need for sleep and the time of waking varies. The following routines are a guide only as your baby's needs and tired signs/cues for sleep may vary from the examples below.

Some days things will go smoothly but illness, disruption to the family environment and/or extra busy days out can all affect your baby's routine.

0 – 3 MONTHS

In the early weeks, you are getting to know your baby as your baby engagesin activities – such as feeding, sleeping, listening and focusing, moving and vocalising. Feeding is an essential task which also provides you with an opportunity to interact. In the early days babies need a minimum of 6 – 8 feeds in a 24 hour period. This includes overnight feeding.

REMEMBER: Although a sleep between each feed is ideal, babies of this age often have long crying periods and may not settle between feeds. If this occurs, other settling strategies may be useful. Refer to settling tip sheets.

3 - 6 months

REMEMBER: it takes time for your baby to develop a predictable routine. This can be a fun time as your child develops new skills such as exploring their world. As your baby becomes more mobile it is important to ensure your home and play areas are safe.

Babies become more predictable in their routine by 3 to 4 months. From 3-4 months most babies know the difference between day and night. They generally settle well overnight but may still need 1-2 milk feeds.

Awake time is becoming longer. Time spent playing with and talking to your baby is very important for their development. Some ideas for interacting during awake/play time include:

  • Tummy time (floor play)
  • Using rattles and soft toys
  • Taking baby for a walk in the pram
  • Telling stories using soft books
  • Having a relaxing bath time or baby massage
  • Singing songs or playing music
  • Visiting friends

Sleep times can vary, with some having three longer sleeps per day and others needing only short naps. If your baby is generally alert and happy your baby is probably getting enough sleep Some examples of activities that you can do with your baby at this age include smiling, talking, singing, reading, cuddling your baby, and tummy time.

By 6 months your baby can commence taking solid foods. It is also a good time to commence feeding your baby cooled boiled water from a cup.

Some ideas for interacting during awake/play time include:

  • Floor play
  • Playing music and singing songs
  • Reading stories or singing nursery rhymes
  • Playing finger or toe games
  • Providing toys – that move, make sound, are colourful and vary in texture
  • Giving lots of cuddles
  • Visiting friends/local park/play groups

REMEMBER: all babies are different. Modify the routine to match your baby's needs for sleeps.

3-6 MONTHS

Early Morning:

  • Milk feed
  • May return to sleep
  • Or have some play time

SLEEP

Mid morning: milk feed

Awake time 1 1/2 to 2 hours: play

SLEEP

Lunchtime: milk feed

Awake time 1 1/2 to 2hrs: play


SLEEP


Mid afternoon: milk feed

Awake time 1 ½ to 2 hours: play

SLEEP

May only require a short nap

Evening:

  • Milk feed
  • Bath
  • Quie time
  • Cuddle

Settle for night

SLEEP


1-2 milk feeds may be needed overnight

More information on how to reduce the risk of SIDS and sleeping your baby safely can be obtained from the SIDS and Kids website or by contacting SIDS and Kids by telephone on 1300 308 307.

For further help:

  • Visit either your local Child and Family Health Centre or local doctor.
  • Call Tresillian Parent’s Help Line on (02) 9787 0855 or 1800 637 357 (Freecall outside Sydney)
  • Speak to a Tresillian Nurse on-line at Tresillian Live Advice