Sleep Schedule for a Baby: Tips From a Pro

sleep schedule for a baby

How do you create a healthy sleep schedule for a baby?

The key, says Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant Kelly Robson of Baby Bliss Consulting, is to promote healthy sleep habits from–or even before–day one. As the mom of four boys (ages 13, 11 and twins who are 8), Robson speaks from experience.

“I truly believe HBOTB (Happiest Baby on the Block) saved us with the twins,” says Robson. “I had been an educator for two years when they were born and we used all of those tips and tricks to soothe during the day and night.”

A few years before her twins were born, Robson started doing in-home consultations for families with newborns–teaching them to soothe babies and increase sleep. Since then, she has become a certified pediatric sleep consultant and helps families with newborns up to age 4.

Robson teaches Happiest Baby on the Block and Safe With You–preventing SIDS/ AHT / & Child Abuse & Neglect, as well as baby-sign language classes and potty training and support.

Here, Robson offers some of her tips for creating a healthy sleep schedule for a baby.

MarbleSpark: When is the right time to start sleep training for an infant?

KR: When you instill healthy sleep habits in the beginning, there really is no “sleep training.” Babies know how to sleep. It’s allowing them to fall asleep on their own without needing a prop (like being rocked or nursed to sleep).

When they are newborns, we can help them fall asleep in their cribs without crying. As they get older, they may have to “sleep train” to learn these skills because the soothing techniques that worked when they were newborns no longer work. I suggest teaching healthy sleep habits right away!

sleep schedule for baby

Robson with her husband and four boys. She says tips from Happiest Baby on the Block helped keep her twins on a sleep schedule as babies.

MarbleSpark: Are there things that new parents can do before the baby is born to prepare?

KR: Absolutely! Before baby is born, parents can focus on setting up the sleeping environment. Make sure where baby will be sleeping is nice and dark and they have a white noise machine.

MarbleSpark: Do you recommend that babies sleep in the room with the parents?

KR: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room sharing for the first year of life, but parents have to decide what works best for them in terms of where baby will sleep.

MarbleSpark: How long should babies sleep at night? What is an ideal sleep schedule for a baby?

KR: The number of hours a baby should sleep depends on his or her age. A schedule that is appropriate for a 5-month-old is completely different than that of an 11-month-old. It’s important for parents to understand that sleep changes as babies grow.

MarbleSpark: At what age, can you eliminate night-time feedings?

KR: A baby’s pediatrician will have the best answer on when to eliminate night-time feedings. This is often based on weight and the number of feedings baby has during the day. I always advise my clients to check with their pediatrician if they are unsure of when their baby is ready to drop a nighttime feeding.

MarbleSpark: What is your philosophy on sleep training? Around 4-5 months, the only thing that worked with my son was to let him cry it out.

KR: I wish all of my clients contacted me when their babies were newborns! I love teaching parents techniques to soothe baby AND increase sleep.

Sleep habits are formed early. We can teach newborns how to fall asleep on their own with no crying at all. When we start early, babies avoid ever having to sleep train. As babies get older, the techniques that worked on newborns no longer work and babies protest changes by crying. There are ways to reduce the amount of crying with sleep training techniques, the environment, and timing of sleep.

MarbleSpark: What role does infant massage play in your sleep training for babies?

KR: I include infant massage instruction in all in-home sleep consultations in Omaha. Infant massage has so many benefits! It promotes more restful sleep, improves circulation, and boosts baby’s immune system to name a few. Babies AND parents love it!

MarbleSpark: If there was one piece of advice you could offer new parents, what would it be?

KR: I’ll offer three!

One, take the time to set up the sleeping environment before baby is born.

Two, babies who go for long periods between feedings during the day eat more often at night. Make sure to not let baby sleep through daytime feedings.

And three, call Baby Bliss Consulting to start healthy sleep habits from the beginning (after feeding is established). All of my clients say they wish they had called me sooner!

MarbleSpark: Besides sleep consulting, what other services do you provide to parents?

KR: I really encourage parents to check out my online baby sign-language class. I’m just as passionate about early communication as I am about sleep! Busy schedules make it hard to take a class in person. With 50 signs tailored to the routines and interests of preverbal babies and toddlers, you’ll finish this online course ready to start signing immediately.

Reading to Baby

For other research and techniques for bonding with your baby, check out our post on reading to your baby, which promotes brain development and bonding.  In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced a new policy recommending all parents read to their children from birth. Or even in utero.

It’s never too soon to start bonding with your little one!

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