Setting Your Newborn up on a Sleep Schedule

Jul 21, 2020

“It will be years until your baby will sleep through the night,” they said.

“You can’t put a newborn on a sleep schedule,” they said.

“Your newborn won’t sleep, your dad was a terrible sleeper,” they said.

To that, I say, you are wrong. Sleep is a skill and as a sleep consultant here in Philadelphia, , I tell parents that every single day. A child is born with a blank slate with regards to habits and preferences, it’s their exposure over there first weeks of life to various ways in which they learn to fall asleep that become what a child perceives is the way to fall asleep. ????

How do you begin with putting a newborn on a sleep schedule?

First, you start with awake windows. A newborn should not be awake for more than 45 – 60 minutes between sleep. If they are, they will get overtired, nap poorly, and often cry more. That’s the foundation of the schedule, and for the next months of life, watch and knowing the daytime sleep needs and awake windows are going to be important for your continued success. Be sure to generate a newborn sample schedule here – because this will show you the proper structure to your day. If your newborn is sleeping all day, then is up all night, a balance of capping daytime naps, and adjusting their clocks using sunlight and darkness will help. I always tell my private clients, don’t let them nap for more than 3 hours in the day. Wake them, feed them, and if they want to go back down, so be it. That ensures the longer stretch happens at night and that they don’t miss a feed.

Each day may look a little different. That is OK and totally normal. You see, the word schedule is just routine and consistency. It’s not about a set time each day, for newborns, their sleep doesn’t yet consolidate, so naps are short unless they are supported (hello rocking, driving, and walking…) and that’s OK. Around 4 months, naps will naturally lengthen, as long as you have the right foundations in place. You also need to set them up to learn the crib or bassinet. If they never sleep there, it won’t be comfortable for them. My advice, start with 1 nap a day in the crib, where your little one settles independently, then as they progress in that skill of falling asleep without support, doing it for nap 2, nap 3, etc. That’s only going to jumpstart that consolidation and help them with sleeping longer stretches at night BECAUSE THEY HAVE THE SKILL to put themselves back to sleep without your help.

When will my newborn sleep through the night?

That is a loaded question and not something with an age-associated with it, but more of an intake. Children need 24-32oz of milk in a given day, when they get that, they will sleep (presuming you set them up with that skill I talk about above.) I see that at 8 weeks, kids can do an 8-hour stretch, then 9 weeks a 9-hour stretch, 10 weeks a 10-hour stretch, until they reach 12 12 hours by 12 weeks. Now, how do you KNOW how much they got intake wise if you are exclusively nursing? Great question and one I too had when I cared for my kids. Well, I bought this scale and did weighted transfers, just to see how much they were getting with a feeding. I didn’t obsess over it, I just liked to know. Other ways to track intake of milk needs for a baby are:

  • Schedule a weighted transfer appoint at the Pediatrician and time it so they are ready to eat when you get there. (So feed them 2:45 minutes before you arrive) that way, at 3 hours, you are there, baby on breast and they are ready to eat.
  • Visit a local hospital breastfeeding support group. I loved the connect with new mommas there, all with similar aged little ones and the ability to weigh them before and after the feeding.
  • Pump and do bottles for a 24-hour period. That’s going to help you to see intake they are getting and help you plan out feedings.

I also like babies to take full feeds vs. graze eating. I find as a sleep coach that babies who eat roughly every 3 hours vs. snack a ton throughout the whole day actually take in more milk at a days end. If you set them up with the intake in the day, the right daytime sleep, good awake windows and good a sleep schedule, your baby will be well on their way to consolidated overnights and sleeping through the night. Even if they do need to eat overnight, which is totally appropriate for many babies, ensure when they wake and you know it’s a feeding that you tend to them right away, feed, then place them back down awake in the crib or bassinet.

Are You Ready to Learn about Putting Your Newborns Sleeping Patterns Together?

Great! I am here to help with that and once every few weeks, I hop on LIVE and Free Newborn Sleep Class to help guide parents through the first 12 weeks of life. You can watch the replay here or you can register for the next session, because at the end of each training, I open it up for all the Q&A’s that you have, and answer all of them right on the spot.

In addition, I am sharing my complete Newborn eBook, for free, that breaks down everything you need to be taking care of yourself and your baby.

Courtney Zentz is an Award-Winning Author, Baby Sleep Expert and Founder of Tiny Transitions. Her background as a Pediatric Sleep Specialist, Lactation Counselor, Postpartum Doula and Sleep Coach to her team of Sleep Consultants around the world provides parents with a solution to their sleep struggles, that is backed by science and balanced with your love and support.

The mission of Tiny Transitions is to teach healthy sleep hygiene and parenting education to parents and their babies, toddlers and young adults who struggle to sleep through private sleep consultations or their more intensive 12-month program, Making Over Motherhood.

Named by Tuck as a Top 200 Sleep Professional in the United States, Courtney is a 4x “Best of Philadelphia” Sleep Consultant. She writes & contributes to Fatherly, Yahoo, Thrive Global, Medium, Nectar, Romper, Parentology, The Sleep Sense Show, and Bustle among others in the field of Pediatric Sleep. Courtney hosts The Kids Sleep Show podcast, and is a frequent guest with companies like Slumber Pod® and The Magic Sleep Suit® Company.

Courtney resides just outside Philadelphia, with her husband Adam and two children, Max and Sovella. She has always felt passionate about making sleep & healthy living a priority in her family’s life and Tiny Transitions would welcome working with you. Setup a Free Preliminary Sleep Evaluation with Courtney or a member of her Slumber Squad®