Toddler Sleep Schedules [with 2-1 information!]

calendar.jpg

Considering the popularity of my blog post for sleep schedules from 4 months to 18 months, I thought it was time to give toddler sleep some love! Read on to learn about different schedules for toddlers from 18 months [or 1 nap] to age 3! I will preface this blog post the same way I did my first schedule post by saying that all children are different and yours might not necessarily fit into this schedule perfectly every single day but it is just meant as a guide to know what is typical at each age and as your child grows.  I intended this to be a helpful guide to see what a day in the life of a toddler on an age-appropriate schedule looks like - meals, naps, and nightsleep. When looking at these schedules, what's important to note is the time awake in between sleep times, not necessarily the time on the clock [unless otherwise indicated]. I generally recommend laying the child down 15 minutes before these targeted 'asleep' times to give them ample time to fall asleep.

18 months [the start of the 2-1 transition]

Children at this age need roughly 13 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period, 1.5-3 hours of that sleep should occur in the daytime with 11-12 hours of sleep at nighttime.

Prior to the transition [age 13-18 months]:

6:30am - up for the day
7:00am - breakfast
9:00am - snack
9:45am - 10:45am - nap#1 [to hold off the transition until this point, it's beneficial to cap this nap at 1 hour]
12:00pm - lunch
2:00pm - snack
2:45pm - 3:45pm - nap#2 [a full 4 hours of awake time between naps 1 and 2]
5:30pm - dinner
6:30pm - bedtime routine [should not include any milk, last milk with dinner!]
7:15pm - bedtime [asleep by this time]

One week into the transition:

6:30am - up for the day
7:00am - breakfast
9:30am - either a big snack OR lunch split in half
10:15am - 12:15pm - nap [we pushed out the first nap by 15 minutes every 3 days. If the nap ends at noon or later, we move to bedtime. If the nap ends before noon, we do a catnap/quiet time around 3:00pm]
12:30pm - either a big snack OR the other half of lunch
2:30pm - small snack
5:00pm - dinner
5:30pm - bedtime routine
6:15pm - bedtime

Two weeks into the transition:

6:30am - up for the day
7:00am -  breakfast
10:00am - either a big snack OR lunch split in half
11:00am - 1:00pm - nap [we continued to push the nap out by 15 minutes every 3 days]
1:15pm - either a big snack OR the other half of lunch
3:15pm - small snack
5:30pm - dinner
6:00pm - bedtime routine
6:45pm - bedtime

Four weeks into the transition [transition complete]:

6:30am - up for the day
7:00am - breakfast
9:00am - snack
11:15am - lunch
12:00pm - 2:00pm - nap [nap was pushed out by 15 minutes every 3 days to a 5.5 hour waketime]
2:30pm - snack
5:45pm - dinner
6:15pm - bedtime routine
7:00pm - bedtime

Please check out my Comprehensive Nap Transition Guide here for detailed information about each nap transition!


19-23 months 

Children at this age require 12-12.5 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. 1.5-3 hours of that sleep should occur in the daytime and 10-12 hours of sleep at nighttime.

6:30am - up for the day
7:00am - breakfast
9:00am - snack
11:45am - lunch
12:30pm - 2:30pm - nap [if the child's 1 nap is well-established, we should move to a 'by the clock' nap occurring between 12:30-1:00pm. This nap should be no longer than 3 hours and not past 3:00pm]
3:00pm - snack
5:45pm - dinner
6:45pm - bedtime routine
7:30pm - bedtime

2 years old 

Children at this age require 12-12.5 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. 1-2 hours of that sleep could occur in the daytime and 10-12 hours of sleep at nighttime. After age 2.5, children do not developmentally *need* a nap like they did prior to this age [although the longer you can hang onto it, the better!] Keep in mind that if your child has dropped their nap, they should now be clocking the full 12-12.5 hours of sleep at nighttime, so bedtime should reflect that based on what time they normally wake up in the morning.

A 2 year old who is still taking a nap:

6:30am - up for the day
7:00am - breakfast
9:30am - snack
12:00pm - lunch
1:00pm - 3:00pm - nap [at this age, the 'by the clock' nap should occur between 1:00-1:30pm. This nap should be no longer than 2 hours and not past 3:00pm]
3:30pm - snack
5:45pm - dinner
7:15pm - bedtime routine
8:00pm - bedtime

A 2.5 year old who is no longer napping:

6:30am - up for the day
7:00am - breakfast
9:30am - snack
12:00pm - lunch
1:00pm - 2:00pm - quiet time [a quiet time every single day for a toddler who is not napping is extremely important. Even if they are not sleeping, time to re-charge their batteries for at least 45 minutes mid-day will help avoid major evening crankiness]
2:30pm - snack
5:15pm - dinner
5:45pm - bedtime routine
6:30pm - bedtime

3 years old

Children at this age require 11-12 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. 1-2 hours of that sleep could occur in the daytime and 9-12 hours at nighttime. For children who no longer nap, they should now be clocking the full 11-12 hours of sleep at nighttime, so bedtime should reflect that based on their usual wake-up time.

A 3 year old who is still taking a nap:

6:30am - up for the day
7:00am - breakfast
9:30am - snack
12:30pm - lunch
1:30pm - 3:00pm - nap [at this age, the 'by the clock' nap should still occur between 1:00-1:30pm. This nap should be no longer than 2 hours [but may need to be closer to 1-1.5 hours to not interfere with nightsleep] and not past 3:00pm
3:30pm - snack
5:45pm - dinner
7:15pm - bedtime routine
8:00pm - bedtime

A 3 year old who is no longer napping:

6:30am - up for the day
7:00am - breakfast
9:30am - snack
12:30pm - lunch
1:30 - 2:30pm - quiet time [a quiet time every single day for a toddler who is not napping is extremely important. Even if they are not sleeping, time to re-charge their batteries for at least 45 minutes mid-day will help avoid major evening crankiness]
3:00pm - snack
5:30pm - dinner
6:15pm - bedtime routine
7:00pm - bedtime


Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

How to Shift an Early Schedule

Summer is here! Which means lots of sun, lots of fun, and lots of - early morning wake-ups (boo!)  At this time of the year my inbox is flooded with parents desperate for help with children who are waking too darn early. It could be the late evening sun or the early morning sun [get that room dark parents!] that starts the problem, but it's often getting trapped in an early bedtime/early wake-up cycle that perpetuates the problem. I have a few posts here and here that address some other reasons why your child would wake early [and I'd recommend reading those first before proceeding with this article!] but this post is going to focus on one common cause of early wake-ups - a bedtime that is too early.  So if you've troubleshooted all other possible causes of the early wake-up but suspect this is your problem, read on parents!

What do we define as an 'early wake-up'?

You and me both sista!

You and me both sista!

'Early' is a bit subjective - early to one family might mean 7:00am and early to another family might mean 5:00am. For the purpose of this article, I define 'early' as a) anything earlier than 6:00am and b) a wake-up time that resulted in less than ~10-12 hours of nighttime sleep. 

What do we do first?

The first step when working to eliminate an early wake-up is to ensure that there isn't anything external that could be waking baby at an earlier hour. Is it too bright in baby's room in the evening or early morning? If you think of a scale from 1-10, one being bright and sunny and ten being pitch black, we want that room between an 8-10 for all sleep times. An 8-10, to me, would mean that any time you are in that room [for any sleep periods] and you were to have your hand outstretched in front of your face, it should be hard to make out your hand. Melatonin [the sleepy hormone] is only produced when it's dark [thus why it's called the 'vampire hormone'!] If that room is too bright when baby is trying to settle at night or trying to re-settle in the early morning, we aren't getting help from melatonin and this can lead to early wake-ups. Cheap ways to get that room nice and dark include black garbage bags on the windows, tin foil, a dark blanket, cardboard, etc. [go full ghetto on that room!] For something more long-term, check out these window covers - they work fantastic and are super affordable as well.

Once you've got your baby cave rockin', you've read my other two articles above and eliminated those factors as possibly contributing to your early wake-ups, and you're pretty certain you've got a baby stuck in an early wake-up/early bedtime cycle, your next step is a schedule shift.

What is a 'schedule shift'?

The term is pretty self-explanatory - we are attempting to shift the schedule. We never want to just push baby's bedtime later in hopes of shifting the schedule, as too-long of a stretch before bed will almost always lead to an early wake-up. We need to shift the entire schedule - naps and bedtime. Because we are stretching baby, the schedule shift can cause some overtiredness but we just have to persist - give the schedule shift a full week before deciding if it is working or not. The schedule shift looks differently for different nap schedules so I've broken it down by number of naps:

If your baby is on a 3 nap schedule:

  • Continue to leave your baby in their crib until 6:00am [if you've read the above articles, you'll know leaving them until 6:00am is important as by scooping your baby up earlier than 6:00am and exposing them to light/stimulation of any kind, we are re-setting that internal clock for 'early'!] Now, I don't mean you have to just leave them in their cribs alone, you could be comforting/reassuring during this time or even just sitting in the dark room with them!

  • Do not put down for baby's first nap until 8:15am. As baby progresses through the schedule shift, you'll want to push this 'no nap before' rule to 8:45am. Using an extra long wind down routine before sleep times to help calm baby if they are getting a bit overtired is a good strategy to help us make these desired nap times possible.

  • Do not put down for baby's second nap until 11:15am. As baby progresses, your goal is no put down before 11:45am [as a note, if your baby is currently not an independent sleeper, your goal would just be for baby to be soothed to sleep by about 15 minutes after these ideal put down times. So, perhaps you'd start rocking them at 11:45am with a goal of them being asleep by 12:00pm].

  • Do not put down for baby's third nap until 2:30pm. As baby progresses, the goal would be no put down before 3:45pm [the variation here is bigger because this awake time is the least sensitive of the day, so we are able to stretch it a bit more without disastrous results].

  • Do not put down for baby's bedtime until 6:15pm. Our ultimate goal for put down will be no earlier than 6:45pm. Because bedtime is the most sensitive time of the day, an extra long bedtime routine is a really good idea! If you have a particularly tough day, a put down of 6:00pm would be appropriate, but keep working on it!

If your baby is on a 2 nap schedule:

  • Continue to leave your baby in their crib until 6:00am [if you've read the above articles, you'll know leaving them until 6:00am is important as by scooping your baby up earlier than 6:00am and exposing them to light/stimulation of any kind, we are re-setting that internal clock for 'early'!] Now, I don't mean you have to just leave them in their cribs alone, you could be comforting/reassuring during this time or even just sitting in the dark room with them!

  • Do not put down for baby's first nap until 9:00am. As baby progresses through the schedule shift, you'll want to push this 'no nap before' rule to 9:15am. Using an extra long wind down routine before sleep times to help calm baby if they are getting a bit overtired is a good strategy to help us make these desired nap times possible.

  • Do not put down for baby's second nap until 1:00pm. As baby progresses, your goal is no put down before 2:00pm. The variation here is bigger because this awake time is the least sensitive of the day, so we are able to stretch it a bit more without disastrous results [as a note, if your baby is currently not an independent sleeper, your goal would just be for baby to be soothed to sleep by about 15 minutes after these ideal put down times. So, perhaps you'd start rocking them at 2:00pm with a goal of them being asleep by 2:15pm].

  • Do not put down for baby's bedtime until 6:15pm. Our ultimate goal for put down will be no earlier than 6:45pm. Because bedtime is the most sensitive time of the day, an extra long bedtime routine is a really good idea! If you have a day with two short naps, a bedtime put down of 5:45-6:00pm would be appropriate, but keep working on it!

If your child is on a 1 nap schedule:

  • Continue to leave your child in their crib/bed until 6:00am [if you've read the above articles, you'll know leaving them until 6:00am is important as by scooping your child up earlier than 6:00am and exposing them to light/stimulation of any kind, we are re-setting that internal clock for 'early'!] Now, I don't mean you have to just leave them in their cribs/beds alone, you could be comforting/reassuring during this time or even just sitting in the dark room with them!

  • For a child younger than 2 years of age: you want to slowly shift their nap later and later into the day until you are not putting them down for their nap any earlier than 12:15pm. What time did you put them down for their nap yesterday? Take that time and add 15 minutes. Every few days, add another 15 minutes until you are not laying them down until 12:15pm at the earliest [our ultimate goal is a nap occurring between 12:30-1:00pm].

  • For a child 2 years of age or older: you want to slowly shift their nap later and later into the day until you are not putting them down for their nap any earlier than 12:45pm. What time did you put them down for their nap yesterday? Take that time and add 15 minutes. Every few days, add another 15 minutes until you are not laying them down until 12:45pm at the earliest [our ultimate goal is a nap occurring between 1:00-1:30pm].

  • Continue to always be flexible with the timing of bed based on when your child woke up from their nap. For a child under the age of 2, we are aiming for bedtime to occur about 4.5-5 hours after the nap ends. For a child that is age 2 or older, bedtime should occur about 5 hours after the nap ends.

In summary...

Early wake-ups are tricky. The stronger your child's internal clock is, the stickier these early wake-ups will be. It can take time and patience to re-set that internal clock but it is possible! Hopefully the above strategies can help your family and I appreciate you taking the time to read! Have a wonderful summer!


Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

The 2,3,4 Schedule

Who's read about the 2,3,4 schedule for napping? Read on to find out what my thoughts are on whether this type of schedule can work for your baby.

What is the 2,3,4 schedule?

The 2,3,4 schedule for napping is pretty simple - two hours after your baby wakes for the day, you put them down for their first nap.  Three hours after that nap ends, you put them down for their second nap. Then 4 hours after that 2nd nap ends, you'd put them down for bed. Pretty simple right? Seems like a dream!? Read on :)

Who is the 2,3,4 schedule recommend for?

The 2,3,4 schedule is often recommended for babies 6 months and up.  Some experts recommend it if your baby is napping for a total of 3 hours/day. Other sources recommend that solids are introduced before beginning this nap schedule (not sure what solids has to do with it but hey!)

Hey Pam, what do you think about this schedule?

I'm glad you asked! I personally am not a big fan of the 2,3,4 nap schedule. I'm sure it can work beautifully for some babies (I would think very easy-type babies that are naturally good sleepers and aren't very sensitive to sleep could do okay on this schedule). But for a vast majority of babies that have trouble sleeping (meaning most of the families I work with or families that would be seeking out sleep advice right now!) it can often spell more trouble.  And here's why:

1) Most babies are not ready for 2 naps at 6 months of age

I personally recommend trying to hold off the transition to 2 naps until baby is closer to the 8 month (adjusted) mark.  Reason-being that a 6 month old (unless it's a baby who has consistently always taken very long naps or consistently always slept through the night) will have a very hard time coping with the longer awake times needed to sustain 2 naps. On a 3 nap schedule, baby is generally awake about 1.75-2.5 hours during the day. This is a good number. Once we jump up to 2 naps, baby needs to be awake more like 3-3.5 hours (or even 4 hours if we are attempting a 2,3,4 schedule!) This is a huge jump and many babies will not be able to cope with these long awake times without becoming overtired (which can then lead to short naps, nightwakings, bedtime battles, early wake-ups, etc.)

2) There is a shortage of awake time in the day

If you add up 2 + 3 + 4, that = 9 hours. So on a 2,3,4 schedule, we are aiming for baby to be awake for a total of 9 hours in a 24 hour period. If we take that 9 hours and add the 3 hours of naps we are aiming for with this schedule, that gives us 12 hours. Let's take a 7 month old for example who requires 14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. With those 9 hours of awake time + 3 hours in naps (12 hours) that leaves us with 12 hours remaining. That means we would need that baby to sleep for 12 hours every single night in order for them to not start waking earlier than they already are. With this schedule, what can slowly happen is the wake-up time creeps earlier....and earlier....and earlier. Until we're stuck with an early wake-up and no way to get out of it. Here's a visual to help you to process this:

700am - baby wakes up for the day
900am-1030am - 1st nap of the day (great nap baby!)
130pm-300pm - 2nd nap of the day (there's our 3 hours!)
700pm - bedtime

Now this baby needs to sleep for 12 hours that night to make it back to 7am, but baby has already had 3 hours in naps so they only have about 11 hours left in their 'sleep bank' to get them their 14 hours. So baby wakes up at 630am (because baby had 1 feed, so we exclude time awake for that):

630am - baby wakes up, ready to take on the day
830am-1000am - 1st nap of the day
100pm-230pm - 2nd nap of the day
630pm - bedtime (uh oh...we are getting earlier. Now we are expecting baby to sleep 12.5 hours to get us back to 700am, but with those 3 hours in naps, baby still only needs about 11 hours of sleep so chances are, they will now wake at 600am. And the next day 530am.....and so on).

Do you see what I mean!? The lack of daytime awake time can shift the schedule earlier and earlier. At 7 months of age, I would be recommending more like 9.5-10 hours of awake time in the day (and a 3 nap schedule, like the one outlined here) to ensure baby doesn't start waking at the crack of dawn.

3) 2 and 3 hours is too short, 4 hours is too long

For a 6-7 month old baby, a 2 hour interval before the first nap is spot-on. This is exactly what I would recommend. But at 10, 11, or 12 months of age, for many babies (especially those sleeping well at night) this is much too short. We might start to see baby taking a long time to fall asleep or refusing that first nap entirely! Then we're really pooched. 
For a 6-7 month old baby, a 3 hour interval before the 2nd nap is a bit long, but not terrible. At 8/9 months of age, this may still be appropriate, but at 10,11, or 12 months of age, this is often too short. And yet again, what we'd likely see, is short naps or refusals.
For a 6-7 month old baby, a 4 hour interval before bed is WAY too long. Heck, this is even too long for an 8,9, and probably even 10-11 month old baby! Again, some easy-type babies or naturally good sleepers may still sleep well at night with this long awake time, but for the majority, baby will start to become overtired and bedtime battles, nightwakings, sleep-cries, and early wake-ups will ensue (see my blog post here on more appropriate timing for bed). The timing of bed is the most sensitive time of the day and the most important for us to really nail. It's the time we want to mess around with the least.  

In summary...

If a 2,3,4 schedule is working for your family - GREAT! Do not change a darn thing. As I always say, if it ain't broke - don't fix it! But if you're attempting this schedule and it's just not working for you, consider the above reasons to be why. A more flexible and age-appropriate schedule is what I would recommend. I suspect a lot of experts recommend this schedule because it's 'easy'. It's easy to just say 2,3,4 and be done with it! But this definitely does not work for everyone and many babies are more sensitive to those extra few hours in the day - and that's okay :) 


Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

Never Wake a Sleeping Baby!...???

There are pieces of advice that all of us parents have heard at one time or another after we have babies. 'Never wake a sleeping baby' is probably right up there with 'keep them up longer and they'll stay asleep longer' and other similar gems of sleep wisdom. While the 'never wake a sleeping baby advice' is quite harmless compared to some of the other 'helpful' advice out there, it is still not the whole truth. In this post, I will debunk this rumor and look at the times that it is absolutely a good idea to wake that sleeping baby.

Wake your sleeping baby if....they are a newborn.

Day/night confusion occurs often with newborn babies. We know that light (artificial or natural) helps to set our body clocks, but in the womb, baby is exposed to very little light. Also, your baby is more prone to being active when you are resting (i.e. at night) and sleeping while you are moving (i.e. during the day) as the rocking motion of you going on with your day-to-day life lulls your unborn child to sleep. With these two factors at work, children will often be born a bit confused about when they should be awake more frequently and when they should be sleeping longer stretches. So, with all newborn children, I would recommend waking them every 3 hours during the day for a feeding. There is no need to keep them awake after the feed if they fall back asleep, but this helps to a) make sure they are taking in enough calories during the day to sleep longer at night and b) exposes them to light during the day to help re-set their body clock.

Wake your sleeping baby if... too much daysleep = not enough nightsleep.

Naps are very important for all children. Getting adequate rest during the day is crucial to a child's physical and mental development. However, nightsleep is far superior to daysleep and should be protected at all costs. If you think your child may be sleeping excessively during the day which in turn is leading to lower than average nightsleep (i.e. much lower than 11 hours for most children) then you may want to look at capping naps during the day. What would 'excessive daysleep' look like?

3 months and under: any single nap longer than 3 hours
4 months: any single nap longer than 2.5 hours and/or more than 4.5 hours of total daysleep
5 months: any single nap longer than 2 hours and/or more than 4 hours of total daysleep
6 months: any single nap longer than 2 hours and/or more than 3.5 hours of total daysleep
7/8 months: any single nap longer than 2 hours and/or more than 3.25 hours of total daysleep
9-13 months: any single nap longer than 2 hours and/or more than 3 hours of total daysleep
13+ months: more than 3 hours of total daysleep

Some babies have higher sleep needs than others so don't look at capping daysleep unless you are noticing a direct effect on nightsleep.

Wake your sleeping baby if... you are holding off a nap transition.

Nap transitions can be a really stressful time in a baby's (and your!) life. They often lead to early bedtimes, early wake-ups, and overtiredness is almost always inevitable. One way that we can make sure that these nap transitions are less taxing is if we are holding it off for as long as we can. Nap transitions are something that we never want to rush into. Dropping naps before a child is truly ready can be disastrous for both day and nightsleep. One of the easiest ways we can hold off a nap transition is by waking baby in the morning and/or from naps in order to keep the last nap for as long as we can. I would recommend trying to keep 3 naps until as close to 8 months (adjusted) as possible and 2 naps until as close to 18 months (adjusted) as possible.
Let's take a 7 month old, for example. We may have to start waking our 7 month old up at 7:00am to ensure we can fit in 3 naps before 5:00pm. We might also have to start waking this baby from their 2nd nap at 2:00pm to ensure we can fit in a 3rd nap from 4:30-5:00pm.
For a 17 month old, we might have to start waking this child at 7:00am as well, and then waking from the first nap after an hour to ensure we can fit in a 2nd nap from 3:00-4:00pm. Holding off these nap transitions helps to avoid a cycle of overtiredness and promotes a smoother transition.

Wake your sleeping baby if... the last nap is running too late.

As I mentioned above, protecting nightsleep at all costs is very important as allowing baby the opportunity to clock 11-12 hours of nightsleep (excluding time awake for nightfeeds) helps ensure your child is well-rested. To protect that nightsleep, in addition to making sure that naps aren't excessive, we want to avoid baby napping too late in the day. When a nap runs too late in the day, it encroaches on nightsleep territory. This can cause a too-late bedtime (resulting in insufficient nightsleep), nightwakings, sleep-cries, and potentially an early wake-up the next day (again, resulting in insufficient nightsleep). 
Waking baby from their last nap of the day to protect bedtime is a must. What time should we be waking them by? For a baby that is between 3 months and 8 months of age, you want to ensure that naps are finished by 5:00pm.  For a baby that is  8 months (or whenever they transition to 2 naps) and older, naps should be finished by 4:00pm.  For children that have transitioned to 1 nap, this 'nap cut-off' may be even earlier than 4:00pm depending on how long of an awake time they need before bed (i.e. for a 2 year old, sleeping until 4:00pm would likely mean they aren't falling asleep for the night until 9:00pm, so you'd likely want to end naps by 3:00pm to ensure a relatively early bedtime).


For more of these 'Sleep Wives Tales', check out my blog post here, where I debunk 5 more of these rumors about baby sleep!


Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

Hello Spring! Surviving the Spring Forward

Ummm weren't we JUST falling back? Time flies! Daylight savings time begins on March 10th in Canada and the US and it's the time of year all of the parents of early risers look forward to....at least for a few days.

What to Do?

This time shift definitely has less of an impact on our children's sleep than falling back in the Fall [although this time change is actually harder on our bodies since we are losing an hour of sleep]. If your child is already on a good sleep schedule, your first option is to not make any in-advance changes. For a child who sleeps 7:00pm-7:00am, their new wake-up time will be 8:00am (woop!) and there isn't much of an impact here. Your bedtime will be shifted an hour later but the effects of the time change are only apparent for a few days, maybe a week tops.

For children who are already on a later schedule (think 8:30-8:30 or the like) the sleep-in will result in an even later wake-up and subsequently, an even later bedtime. What we can do in this case is split the difference of the wake-up time. Wake your child up 30 minutes early on the day of the time change, so as not to rob them of too much nightsleep, but also not to let them sleep in too much resulting in a way-too-late bedtime. 

If you're really keen on keeping your child on the same schedule, you can wake them 1 hour early on the day of the time change so as not to see any lasting effects from the time shift (however if your child has a very strong internal clock, you may find them still not able to fall asleep until their 'usual' bedtime). The key also during this time change is not to use too early of a bedtime. If on Sunday your child happens to have a really crappy day of sleep and you’d normally have them down for an early bedtime [say 5:30pm] keep in mind that this is now actually 4:30pm so you may be better off sneaking in another nap to avoid a total meltdown with a too-early bedtime.

If you are looking to take advantage of the time change for baby who is an early riser, there are a few important things to remember:

1) The time change doesn’t actually re-set a child’s internal clock, but it does make the child’s wake-up time by the clock later, so in order to make this stick we need to make sure there is ZERO light in the bedroom in the morning [and remember the sun is now coming up an hour earlier so it’s very likely there would be sun streaming in at this time if you don’t have the windows blacked out properly!]

2) Do not wake your child the day after DST [obviously!] and just follow your new schedule the next day, with naps now occurring one hour later than usual. LOTS of sunlight in the evening helps lock in that new schedule!

3) If on this new schedule your child is still sleeping the same amount of hours as before and you are confident that it’s enough sleep for them, you’re set! We did it! Hurray! But if you suspect your child is still not getting enough sleep [let’s say if before the time change they were sleeping 7:30-5:30 and now they are sleeping 8:30-6:30 which is a better morning wake-up time but perhaps not enough nighttime sleep, which can be evidenced if your child wakes crying in the morning] then now we try to shift things a bit earlier very slowly to see if we can boost that 10 hours to, say, 10.5 or 11 hours. We do this by moving bedtime 15 minutes earlier every 3 days and watch how it affects morning wake-up time. So for example, on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday after the time change you try bedtime at 8:15pm. If wake-up time remains 6:30am then on Thursday, Friday, Saturday you try 8:00pm. If wake-up time remains then for the next 3 days you try 7:45pm. If at some point the wake-up time creeps earlier, you know you’ve pushed too far and you’ll want to go back to whatever bedtime was maintaining the 6:30am wake-up time.

This is an important time to make sure your child's environment is conducive to sleep. It will gradually begin to get lighter and lighter in the evenings so that cave-like sleep space becomes even more important. As always, I highly recommend my Blackout EZ window covers as an awesome and affordable way to get baby's room as dark as possible.

Happy Spring everyone! 


Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting now in Kamloops, BC. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

Daylight Savings Time and Your Baby's Sleep - with new tips!

Remember the good 'ol days when Daylight Savings Time meant an extra hour of sleep? HA! Those years are far behind us. Around this time of year I receive countless e-mails from families worried about the upcoming shift. Should you be concerned? Not if you have a solid plan of action. Read on for some strategies to cope.

True that!

True that!

Daylight Savings - the gist

  1. On Sunday, November 4th, the sun will be rising an hour earlier than it normally does, meaning we have an extra hour of sunlight in the morning [make sure you have those blackout blinds up!]

  2. On Sunday, November 4th, the sun will be setting an hour earlier than it normally does, meaning we have an hour less of sunlight in the evening.

  3. On Sunday, November 4th, if we haven’t implemented any plan in advance for DST, baby will be waking an hour earlier than he normally does [technically he’s not really waking earlier, the clock is just telling us it’s earlier]. So if he normally wakes at 7:00am, he will now be waking at 6:00am.

  4. On Sunday, November 4th, if we haven’t implemented any plan in advance for DST, baby will be wanting to go to bed an hour earlier than he normally does. So if he normally goes to bed around 7:00pm, he will now be wanting to go to bed around 6:00pm.

  5. If we don’t want baby’s schedule to shift earlier by an hour [according to the clock], we may need to plan in advance and shift baby’s schedule an hour later beforehand.

Plan of Action #1 - The Slow Schedule Shift

For those families with children who are already perpetual earlier risers, this strategy might be right for you.  This strategy is also best for those with younger babies [8 months and under]. Putting a little work in ahead of time can help to ensure this transition is as smooth as possible.  How do we do this?

Shift your baby's schedule 15 minutes later starting on the Wednesday before the time change hits. I don't recommend pushing any more than 15 minutes as you don't want baby to end up overtired [and we know that pushing bedtime too late usually results in an early wake-up anyway! Not cool baby!]

The first step to doing this is extending baby’s darkness exposure in the morning and delaying any morning feeds, if possible. We can do this by leaving baby in their crib in the morning for longer [if baby normally wakes at 6:00am and you scoop them out 10 minutes later to feed, trying leaving baby until 6:30am and then feeding then]. If baby is not happy with this extended time in the crib, pull him out as you normally would but hang out in the dark [no lights/TV/etc.] for those extra 30 minutes [and working up to an hour]. This can be quite challenging if you need to hurry to work in the morning or have other children to tend to so just do the best you can!

How would this look in real life? Baby A [6 months old] wakes at 6:00am on Wednesday and we leave him until 6:15am. We go into the room, lights still off, white noise on, and scoop him up to feed. After the feed, we change his diaper and hang out for some floor time, keeping stimulation low and lights off. At 7:00am, we turn on the lights and leave the room - it’s morning time! We’d repeat this Thursday - Saturday, aiming to get as close to an hour each day as we can.

The second step to this is shifting baby’s bedtime later by that same hour in the days leading up to DST. So, for instance, if your baby is 6 months old and you usually put him to bed 2 hours after his 3rd nap ends, you would push him to 2.25 hours on Wednesday in hopes that he'll also sleep in 15 minutes later the next day. On Thursday, push each nap time 15 minutes later as well [if you’re following more of a ‘by the clock’ schedule vs. using waketimes, then you’d just put baby down 15 minutes later by the clock than you normally would]. Continue this schedule of 15 minute stretches until the time change hits, when [hopefully] your schedule will have shifted later by 1 hour. To make this even more successful, keep evenings super bright and full of stimulation.

How would this look in real life? Baby A [6 months old] wakes at 6:00am on Wednesday and we use the above strategy to avoid light/stimulation until 7:00am. He has a great day of sleep on Wednesday waking from his last nap at 4:30pm. Normally we’d have him down at 6:30pm for the night but we’ll push to 6:45pm. The next day [Thursday] baby A wakes at 6:00am again and we use the same darkness strategy in the morning. Normally we’d lay him down at 7:30am for his first nap [1.5 hours after he wakes] but we’ll push to 7:45am on this day. We’ll do this same 15 minute stretch for all 3 naps, and baby A ends up going down for the night at 7:15pm on Thursday night, waking up at 6:30am on Friday morning. We continue to repeat until the schedule is shifted by an hour by Sunday, so baby A wakes at 6:00am on Sunday [which is 7:00am old time]. Now we can resume our normal schedule and normal timing of naps, and baby A is going to bed at the same time he was before we started the shift and waking at the same time as well.

Plan of Action #2 - The Big Shift

This strategy might work well for families with children that aren't waking up too early [closer to 7:00am] or those who have older babies [over 8 months of age]. Keep their schedule the same up to the time change but then on Sunday, push the schedule [as much as she can handle] back to her 'normal' routine/timing of sleep. Your bedtime may be on the earlier end for a day or so but with time [and lots of natural light! As that is what sets our internal clocks!] she should settle back into her old schedule.

How would this look in real life? Baby B [9 months old] normally has a bedtime of 7:30pm with a wake-up time of 7:30am. She typically takes naps at 10:30am and 3:00pm. On Sunday, November 4th, she will wake up at 6:30am [which is actually 7:30am]. Her parents leave her in bed until 7:00am and then hang out in the dark room for an extra 30 minutes until 7:30am [her normal wake-up time]. Her normal nap time is 10:30am so her parents have her down for her first nap at 10:00am - a bit earlier as she’s quite tired but close to our goal. The second nap starts at 2:30pm and her bedtime is half an hour earlier than normal, at 7:00pm. The next day, she wakes at 7:00am and her parents leave her until 7:30am. She is able to handle a bit more awake time so her naps are back to 10:30am and 3:00pm with her normal 7:30pm bedtime.

Plan of Action #3 - Plan? What Plan?

This "strategy" works best for older kids [think preschool age] who are already waking up and going to bed at a reasonable time [7:00am or later with a 7:00pm or later bedtime] or who are not prone to overtiredness/easy type children. This would also work well if your child is on a too-late schedule [maybe a toddler who still has a nap but bedtime is getting pushed too late]. Your child wakes at 6:00am on Sunday [which is still actually 7:00am] and you'll stick to your same schedule and put him to bed at 7:00pm that night [which to him will be 8:00pm].

How would this look in real life? C is 2.5 years old. He normally has a 2 hour nap from 1:00-3:00pm with a bedtime of 8:00pm, although he sings and talks in bed until 9:00pm and then wakes for the day at 7:30am. His parents would like his bedtime to be earlier so on Sunday, November 4th, C wakes up at 6:30am [7:30am before the time change]. His parents lay him down for his nap at 12:30pm [1:30pm before the time change]. He naps from 12:30-2:30pm and he goes to bed at 7:30pm [8:30pm before the time change]. He talks and sings until 8:30pm [much more reasonable!] and wakes up the next morning at 7:00am.
If you wanted to maintain the exact same schedule as before, you would just keep the nap time at the same time [1:00pm new time, 2:00pm old time] and bedtime at the same time as well [8:00pm new time, 9:00pm old time].

What Else Can We Do to Help with Daylight Savings? 

  • Shift all your routines later, not just sleep times.

  • Making your baby's sleep space as dark as possible is essential for helping to reset their internal clock. Check out this great company here for custom window covers to completely darken your baby's sleep space.

  • Continue to always leave your baby in their bed until 6:00am [new time]. If this transition is too big to achieve on the first day, do it gradually over a few days.

  • Natural sunlight is key for resetting our internal clocks, so take baby for a 20-30 minute early morning walk for a few days after we fall back, as the sunshine will help baby process that it's morning and will help to resolve any confusion with her circadian rhythms. Do the same in the evening before the sun goes down, if possible.

  • What not to do? Don't try to make the jump to their 'normal' bedtime too quickly. This will only lead to overtiredness and likely an early wake-up the next day. Embrace an earlier bedtime for a few days. The good news about Daylight Savings is that the effects only last a few days (keep this in mind when you're all excited for a later wake-up in the Spring. Sorry to burst your bubble!)

 

Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

Early Wake-Up? Ask Yourself These Questions

There's a few topics that I get questions about every single day; short naps, too many nightwakings/nightfeedings, the 4 month sleep regression, and early wake-ups. The latter is what we will be discussing today. Nobody likes to see a "5" on their alarm clock in the morning (unless you're crazy like me and set your alarm for that time!) and a 5:00am wake-up call from your baby is even less desirable (you're not cute at 5am baby! You're just not!) If you're finding that your wake-up time is creeping earlier and earlier, or maybe it's always been early, there's usually a reason for it. Generally, the natural wake-up time of most children is anywhere between 6:00-8:00am. Especially if that early wake-up call means your baby has clocked less than 11-12 hours of nightsleep, ask yourself the following questions to see if you can get to the bottom of it:

  1. Is your bedtime too late? A bedtime that is too late for baby is a recipe for an early wake-up. The majority of babies do best with a bedtime of between 6:00-8:00pm. Check out my blog post here for help finding your baby's ideal bedtime.

  2. Is your bedtime too early? While you all know I love me an early bedtime, we never want to get stuck in a perpetual 5:00pm bedtime cycle, as this, over time, will lead to baby waking up early. A super early bedtime is great on crappy nap days or when we are trying to chip away at some sleep debt that may have accumulated from weeks/months of poor sleep, but it's not meant to be used consistently over the span of several days/weeks.

  3. Are you keeping baby awake too long in between last nap and bedtime? That stretch between the last nap of the day and bedtime is the most sensitive of the day, and if we are stretching it too far will lead to nightwakings, sleep-cries, and a potential early wake-up the next day. Check out my blog post here for the maximum interval of wakefulness your baby should have, at any given age.

  4. Is your baby hungry? If that 5:00am wake-up is 3.5-4 hours from your last nightfeeding, then baby may be truly hungry at that time and it's a good idea to feed him and put him back down to allow him time to fall back asleep and continue his nightsleep. Many babies will keep one last early nightfeeding into their 9th month.

  5. Are you always leaving baby until 6:00am? Getting baby up before this time lets him know that this is indeed an appropriate wake-up time. We always want to ensure we leave baby until 6:00am to discourage any wakings prior to this and to send a consistent message, 24 hours/day.

  6. Is baby falling asleep independently with zero props? Sleep is the lightest between 4-6am and if baby relies on any props to go to sleep for the night initially (yes, that paci counts!!!) then when they wake up in these early morning hours, they will need you to re-create these same conditions but since sleep is so light at this time, it is harder for them to fall asleep even with your assistance.

  7. Is baby's bedroom dark enough? Especially with the summer solstice in June, the sun is up early. If baby's bedroom is too bright at this time (and with sleep being very light at this time as well) it may be difficult for the child to return to sleep. Turn that bedroom into a baby cave!

  8. Is your baby teething? The most common 'sleep symptom' of teething is a temporary early wake-up. Again, we know that sleep is light in the early morning hours and if baby is uncomfortable/in pain/discomfort then it will be difficult for them to return to sleep at this time. The effects are at their worst one week before the tooth pops through, with the worst offenders being the top front teeth and the molars.

  9. Is baby overtired? An inappropriate daytime schedule (not enough naps/daysleep, baby being kept awake too long in between naps, etc.) is a major cause of an early wake-up. The best solution for an overtired baby is an early bedtime to help them catch up on sleep (as well as a round of sleep training if the cycle of overtiredness is caused by negative sleep associations!)

  10. Is baby going through a nap transition? Early wake-ups are inevitable as baby transitions to a new nap schedule, even with well-rested children who consistently sleep through the night.

  11. Is baby reaching a new milestone? At the peak of mastering a new skill (crawling, standing up, walking, talking, terrible 2's, etc) baby may temporarily wake early for 2-3 weeks.

 

 

Pam Edwards is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant and founder of Wee Bee Dreaming Pediatric Sleep Consulting in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Healthy sleep is addicting and she has made it her life mission to help families all across the world get the sleep they deserve - a good night's sleep doesn't have to be a dream!

Is Your Baby's Bedtime Too Late?

arielle2.jpg

A vast number of the sleep issues I encounter are products of a bedtime that is too late.  The awake time between the last nap of the day and bedtime is the most sensitive.  What I mean by this is that if we are putting baby down too late, stretching baby out too long, it is a recipe for nightwakings, a restless sleep, and an early morning wake-up.  Therefore, it is vital that we are really 'nailing' bedtime and that we aren't keeping baby up too late.  What time would you put an 8 year old to bed?  Likely not at 10:00pm, right?  Then why should a little baby, only months old, have a bedtime that late?  It should be the exact opposite - babies should be going to bed much earlier than older children as their sleep needs are exponentially more than a school-aged child.  Below, I hope to help you figure out what your baby's ideal bedtime is and whether a too-late bedtime is the cause of your sleep problems.

Why is an early bedtime important?

Sleep coaching helps teach baby how to fall asleep independently.  Just because a child knows how to sleep, doesn't mean they will sleep through the night.  In order to help our babies to consistently sleep through the night (and I mean an age-appropriate length of time, see my blog here for what sleeping through the night means at different ages) our children's needs must be in sync with their natural sleep rhythms.

Parents may think that because their baby is still clocking 11-12 hours of nightsleep with a 9pm-9am schedule that this is working well for them.  While it's true that a small percentage of babies, about 10%, do well with a later bedtime, if your child has multiple nightwakings and rarely does longer than a 3 hour stretch at night, then this late bedtime is in fact not working for your child.
Many parents may think that their baby just naturally rises later in the morning, but if baby is up several times a night, the 'sleeping in' is baby trying to catch up on lost sleep.  A true natural wake-up time is only evident once the child is well-rested and sleeping through the night.

Should I use a 'set' bedtime for my child?

While there are many studies out there that prove that a consistent, or 'set', bedtime is important for children, these studies are for children much older - those who no longer nap during the day.  It is very important that once our children drop their last nap that they have a consistent bedtime every single night.  This consistent bedtime has been shown to help children regulate themselves, develop positive behaviors, and function successfully at home and in the community.  Inconsistent (and especially too late) bedtimes have been shown to have long-term effects on behavior - and none of them good.  So while it is important to have consistency with older children, babies need more flexibility with bedtime.  Bedtime should vary depending on the day's naps, activity level of the day, and the previous nightsleep.  Therefore, bedtime can vary by as much as two hours, especially during nap transitions.

So how do I know when I should put my baby to bed for the night?

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, it is of utmost importance that the stretch from the last nap to bedtime is not too long as this will cause fragmented nightsleep.  Below, I will outline how long that last stretch should be, and as well, how many naps on average that babies need at each age.  Keep in mind as well, that if the last nap was very short, you may need to shorten the awake time even more.  

 

0-2 months: babies this age sleep around the clock and have 4 or more naps every day.  Bedtime in newborns is naturally late, usually around 9:00pm or later, but it is important to start moving the bedtime earlier around 6/8 weeks.  By 2 months, baby's bedtime should be between 6:00-8:00pm and should occur about 1 hour after the last nap ends.

3 months: babies this age should be on a solid 4 nap schedule with the last nap of the day ending by 5:00pm.  Bedtime should be no later than 1.5 hours after the last nap ends.  Remember, this is asleep by time so we want to put baby down 15 minutes prior to this to allow him time to fall asleep.  So, this means that bedtime should not be much later than 6:30pm.

4 months: This is the age where babies will transition from 4 naps to 3 naps.  This might mean that your baby will flip-flop back and forth between 4 naps and 3 naps depending on what time she woke up in the morning, and the quality of the day's naps.  If it is a 3 nap day, it is likely you will be needing an early bedtime.  Do not be afraid of an early bedtime during nap transitions - it will be your saving grace!  At 4 months, all naps should be ending by 5:00pm with bedtime happening about 2-2.25 hours after the last nap ends.  So again, this means that bedtime should not be much later than 7:15pm.

5 months: Babies at this age should be solidly on a 3 nap schedule.  All naps should be ending by 5:00pm and bedtime should occur no later than 2-2.5 hours after the last nap ends.  This means that bedtime will be around 7:00-7:30pm which is a very age-appropriate bedtime considering you just lost one entire sleep period when you transitioned from 4 naps to 3, and babies this age still need 11-12 hours of nightsleep with 2 nightfeedings.

6/7 months: Babies still need 3 naps at this age and most stay on a 3 nap schedule until 8/9 months of age.  Naps should be ending by 5:00pm with bedtime happening 2.25-2.75 hours after the last nap ends.  So a bedtime of no later than 7:45pm is age-appropriate.

8/9 months: This is the age where most babies will drop their 3rd nap and move to a 2 nap schedule.  This nap transition also means that we want to use a super early bedtime on the days where we can't fit in a 3rd nap or baby refuses it entirely.  Do not be afraid of putting your child down to bed as early as 4:45pm.  This does not mean that baby will be up at 4:00 in the morning!  Remember, less daysleep = more nightsleep.  You have just lost an entire sleep period so baby will need to make up for this loss of sleep during the night.  Our goal with babies younger than 9 months of age is to protect nightsleep at all costs.  There is no advantage to a late catnap and thus a later bedtime if baby is up every 3-4 hours at night crying.  All naps should be ending by 4:00pm with bedtime occurring 3-3.5 hours after the last nap ends.  This means a bedtime no later than 7:30pm.

10-18 months: This section is for babies within this age range but still on 2 naps.  Most babies keep 2 naps until 13-18 months, with the average being 15 months.  Do not be too quick to drop that second nap as the longer we can hold off this transition, the smoother it will be.  Again, all naps should be ending by 4:00pm with bedtime happening between 3-4 hours after the last nap ends.  Note: we would want to use the lower end of that range for younger babies closer to 10-12 months.  As well, as we approach the 2-1 nap transition the afternoon nap will shrink and become less restful.  This means that you will want to shorten the time between this nap and bedtime as well to keep baby well-rested.  Bedtime should be no later than 7:00-8:00pm.  If you are finding that baby starts to wake frequently at night or earlier in the morning than usual, try scaling back bedtime even more, possibly to even 2.5-3 hours after the last nap ends.  This is a normal pattern as we get closer to dropping the second nap.

13-18 months: This section is for babies who have transitioned to 1 nap.  At the beginning of the transition, the stretch between nap and bedtime will be longer as we push the morning nap later and later.  Once the one nap is solidly occurring around 12:00pm, we would want bedtime to be occurring about 4.5-5 hours after the nap ends.  And as always, naps should be ending by 4:00pm.

19 months-3/4 years: Baby's one nap will be well-established and consistent at this point and should be occurring around 12:30-1:30pm every single day.  Most children keep one nap until 3 years of age or beyond.  At this point we still do not want to be using a set bedtime, and instead bedtime should occur 4.5-5 hours after the nap ends.  The nap should always be ending by 4:00pm or even earlier if you are finding that the nap is pushing bedtime too late.  You may have to start waking the child up at 3:00 to maintain a bedtime of around 8:00pm.  It is normal for bedtime to become later the longer the child keeps their nap.  

3 years and beyond: This is the average age when a child drops their last nap.  Even though the child is not napping anymore, it is very important that you still institute a mid-afternoon quiet time to help the child regroup and recharge for the day.  If you notice that your child has a fussy time around 2-4pm, that is when they should be in their bedroom for 45 minutes of quiet time.  Now that the child is no longer napping, we will want to establish a consistent bedtime.  In order to find the ideal bedtime at this age, we must keep in mind the total sleep requirements of children.  At 3-5 years of age, children still need 11-13 hours of sleep every single day.  So, if your child wakes up at 7:00am, they need to be asleep for the night between 6:00-8:00pm.  Experiment with the bedtime and if you notice it is very difficult to get your child to sleep at 8:00pm, move the bedtime earlier as it is likely you are missing their optimal sleep window and they are overtired by that point.  As well, what is their mood like during the day?  That is the most important indication of whether a preschool/school-aged child is getting enough sleep.  Do they have a short attention span, or are irritable, moody, cranky, or extra defiant?  Try moving that bedtime earlier to see if it helps.


It can seem daunting to move your child's bedtime earlier when previously they were going to sleep much later but it is very important in order to ensure good quality, healthy, and restorative  nightsleep.  Make sure that if you are working to move the bedtime earlier, that you have a consistent and soothing bedtime routine in place to signal to the child that this is in fact bedtime and not another nap.  At the beginning, you may want to do a bath every single night as this is often a surefire cue to babies that bedtime is impending.  A lot of parents may complain that their spouse will never see the baby if bedtime is so early but if baby was previously sleeping in because of the late bedtime, then the other parent may get an opportunity to see baby in the morning once baby's wake-up time moves earlier and to a more 'natural' time.  Unfortunately, babies very rarely fit into our schedules as their sleep needs are just so high, but there is not much for a baby that is more important than healthy sleep (well, food maybe!) 

NEW & IMPROVED! Sample Schedules for the First Year and Beyond

I will preface this blog post by saying that all babies are different and yours might not necessarily fit into this schedule perfectly every single day but it is just meant as a guide to know what is typical at each age and as baby grows.  I intended this to be a helpful guide to see what a day in the life of a baby on an age-appropriate schedule looks like - feedings, naps, and nightsleep. When looking at these schedules, what's important to note is the time awake in between sleep times, not necessarily the time on the clock. I generally recommend putting baby down (or starting the soothing routine if baby is not falling asleep independently) 15 minutes before these targeted 'asleep' times to give them ample time to fall asleep.

calendar.jpg

4 months

Babies at this age are still sleeping a lot, about every 1.5 hours during the day.  Nightfeedings are still the norm at this age (usually 2) and normally continue until baby is 8/9 months of age.

6:30am - up for the day, nursing/bottle
7:45am - 9:00am - nap#1, nurse/bottle upon wake-up
10:30am - 11:30am - nap#2, nurse/bottle upon wake-up
1:00pm - 2:15pm - nap#3, nurse/bottle upon wake-up
3:45pm - 4:30pm - nap#4, nurse/bottle upon wake-up
 -- this nap is often only a 30-45 minute catnap
5:30pm - bedtime routine, nurse/bottle at the beginning
6:15pm - bedtime (baby to be asleep at this time)

4.5 months

Very similar pattern to the above 4 month schedule except baby is able to handle a bit more awake time in the morning and before bed.

6:30am - up for the day, nursing/bottle
8:00am - 9:15am - nap#1, nurse/bottle upon wake-up
10:45am - 11:45am - nap#2, nurse/bottle upon wake-up
1:15pm - 2:30pm - nap#3, nurse/bottle upon wake-up
4:15pm - 5:00pm - nap#4, nurse/bottle upon wake-up
 -- this nap is often only a 30-45 minute catnap
6:15pm - bedtime routine, nurse/bottle at the beginning
7:00pm - bedtime (baby to be asleep at this time)

Babies should be sleeping approximately 11-12 hours at night + 2 nightfeedings are normal at this age (first about 5 hours from the bedtime feed, second about 3.5 hours later).

5 months

Five months is when you want to start working on dropping that 4th nap and pushing the 3 nap schedule. The amount of time baby is awake in between naps will slowly lengthen to move them to a solid 3 nap schedule by 6 months. Because you've lost an entire sleep period (nap 4) bedtime needs to move earlier to compensate.
For more detailed information on this nap transition as well as the other 3 transitions proceeding it, check out my Comprehensive Nap Transition Guide here!

6:30am - up for the day, nursing/bottle
8:15am - 10:15am - nap#1, nurse/bottle upon wake-up
12:15pm - 1:30pm - nap#2, nurse/bottle upon wake-up
3:30pm - 4:15pm - nap#3, nurse/bottle upon wake-up
-- this nap is often only a 30-45 minute catnap
5:45pm - bedtime routine, nurse/bottle at the beginning
6:30pm - bedtime (baby to be asleep at this time)

Babies should be sleeping approximately 11-12 hours at night + 2 nightfeedings (first about 6 hours from bedtime feed, second about 3.5-4 hours later).

6 months

Babies at this age are on a solid 3 nap schedule and may be down to only 1 nightfeeding (more than 2 nightfeedings and you likely have a sleep association problem on your hands).  This is the age when most babies begin to experiment with solids, although breastmilk or formula should still be baby's main source of nutrition until after the first year of life.

6:30am - up for the day, nursing/bottle
7:30am - breakfast
8:15am - 9:45am - nap#1, nurse/bottle upon wake-up
12:00pm - 1:15pm - nap#2, nurse/bottle upon wake-up
3:30pm - 4:15pm - nap#3, nurse/bottle upon wake-up
-- common for this nap to be a 30-45 minute catnap
5:30pm - dinner
6:00pm - bedtime routine, nurse/bottle at the beginning
6:45pm - bedtime (baby to be asleep at this time)

Babies should be sleeping approximately 11-12 hours at night + 1 nightfeeding is normal at this age (about 7 hours from the bedtime feeding).

7 months

Hanging onto 3 naps until as close to 8 months of age as possible is ideal in order to ensure a smooth 3-2 nap transition. This means that at this age, you may need to start capping naps to fit all 3 in before 5:00pm. While waking a sleeping baby is the pits, it can really help to avoid overtiredness down the road.

7:00am - up for the day, nursing/bottle
8:00am - breakfast
9:00am - 10:15am - nap#1, nurse/bottle upon wake-up
11:45am - lunch
12:30pm - 1:30pm - nap#2, nurse/bottle upon wake-up
4:00pm - 4:45pm - nap#3, nurse/bottle upon wake-up
5:45pm - dinner
6:30pm -  bedtime routine, nurse/bottle at the beginning
7:15pm - bedtime (baby to be asleep at this time)

Baby should be sleeping approximately 11-12 hours at night + 1 nightfeeding (at least 7 hours after the bedtime feeding).

8 months (start of transition)

The 3-2 nap transition begins at this age (or you should begin the transition if you haven't already as holding onto naps for too long can start to wreak havoc on nightsleep) and the schedule changes drastically from the beginning of 8 months to the end. You want to ensure to continue slowly stretching baby's awake times to move them to a solid 2 nap schedule (as getting stuck on 2 naps with short awake times can be a recipe for a bad night's sleep). No surprise here - an early bedtime is needed to account for the loss of the 3rd nap.

7:00am - up for the day, nursing/bottle
8:00am - breakfast
9:30am - 11:00am - nap#1, nurse/bottle upon wake-up
12:00pm - lunch
1:45pm - 3:15pm - nap#2, nurse/bottle upon wake-up
5:00pm - dinner (starting to offer the last nursing/bottle of the night with dinner or immediately before/after dinner at this age is a great idea to further separate feeding from sleeping)
5:45pm - bedtime routine
6:15pm - bedtime (baby to be asleep at this time)

8 months (part-way into the transition)

6:30am - up for the day, nursing/bottle
7:30am - breakfast
9:30am - 11:00am - nap#1, nurse/bottle upon wake-up
12:00pm - lunch
2:15pm-3:45pm - nap#2, nurse/bottle upon wake-up
5:45pm - dinner, last nurse/bottle with or immediately before/after dinner
6:45pm - bedtime routine
7:15pm - bedtime (baby to be asleep at this time)
 

Baby should be sleeping approximately 11-12 hours at night + 0-1 nightfeedings. If a nightfeeding still exists, it should be close to/after midnight (and at least 7 hours from the bedtime feeding).

9-11 months

Most babies at this age have now transitioned to a 2 nap schedule and will keep these two naps until 13-18 months (with 15 months being average).  We can often comfortably work on eliminating all nightfeedings at this point (if baby hasn't dropped them on his own and as long as your pediatrician is on board as well).  If baby is eating more than once, it is a safe bet that there is a sleep association problem.

7:00am - up for the day, nursing/bottle
8:00am - breakfast
10:00am - 11:30am -  nap#1, nurse/bottle upon wake-up
12:30pm - lunch
3:00pm - 4:00pm - nap#2, nurse/bottle upon wake-up
5:30pm - dinner, nurse/bottle with dinner or immediately before/after
7:00pm - bedtime routine
7:30pm - bedtime (baby to be asleep at this time) 

Babies should be sleeping approximately 11-12 hours at night.  No nightfeedings required at the end of the 9th month (although some parents wish to keep one and that is completely fine as well) unless directed otherwise by your doctor.  If you are working to eliminate nightfeedings, make sure you've tried moving the bedtime feeding away from the bedtime routine and instead, to immediately before/after dinner.

12-18 months

It is a big misconception that babies at one year of age only need one nap.  In fact, most babies still need 2 naps up to 15 months or beyond.  Babies at this age are able to comfortably sleep all night without feedings although many who have sleep associations will continue to wake for feedings into their second year of life.  The schedule below is an average for all babies who are still taking 2 naps, there are not many changes to their schedule until the afternoon nap is dropped around the 15-18 month mark.

6:30am - up for the day
7:15am - breakfast w/ milk or water
9:15am - snack w/ milk or water
9:45am - 11:15am - nap#1
12:15pm - lunch w/ milk or water
2:15pm - snack w/ milk or water
3:15pm - 4:00pm - nap#2 -- the afternoon nap becomes less restorative at this age, bedtime needs to be earlier to compensate
6:00pm - dinner w/ milk or water
6:45pm - bedtime routine
7:15pm - bedtime (baby to be asleep at this time)

Babies still need 11-12 hours of nightsleep at this age and most will not be waking up throughout the night for a feeding.

 

I hope you have found this guide helpful to get a feel for what a 'normal' schedule for your child is.  I really do not like the term 'schedule' because I do not believe in rigid schedules for babies or children of any age.  However, it is very important that we are keeping one eye on the clock and one eye on baby to avoid that overtired state.  A well-rested baby is a happy baby!
If you feel you need further help in developing a schedule that fits your baby, or if your baby is waking up much more than the averages I give above,
contact me and we can find a solution for your family!

All You Need to Know about Short Naps

The biggest concern that I am confronted by families with when it comes to their baby/toddler's sleep is the dreaded short nap.  Naps are supposed to be a well-deserved break for mom and dad and when they occur in short bursts throughout the day it is neither relaxing for mom or restorative for baby.  Read on to learn some of the major reasons that families struggle with short naps.

babynap.jpg


What is a short nap?

We consider any nap under 1 hour to be a short nap.  Short naps can range anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes.  While it is normal for newborns to catnap (as sleep at this age is erratic and unpredictable) over time we should start to see daysleep consolidate and nap patterns mature.
There are situations where a cat nap is normal.  When babies are nearing a nap transition (whether it be 4-3, 3-2, or 2-1) it is normal for their last nap of the day to be shorter.  For example, it is common for a 4 month old's 4th nap of the day to be a catnap, as well as a 7 month old's 3rd nap.  As long as the other naps are a decent length then this is not a problem.

When should we be concerned with short naps?

As I mentioned above, catnapping is common in newborn babies (or those under 3 months of age).  Around 12-16 weeks of age, daysleep begins to consolidate and a pattern of longer naps usually emerges.  While it is true that some babies are truly just catnappers by biology, we want to ensure we aren't setting baby up for failure by making very common mistakes that I will outline below.  If your child is 6 months and still catnapping all day long, you will want to be diligent in working to see if you can improve his naps with the following tips:

 

  • Sleep Associations. This is the number one reason that a baby will take short naps. If a child is needing to be bounced/rocked/nursed to sleep then when baby wakes up after his first sleep cycle (which is approximately 45-50 minutes long) he will need those same conditions to fall back asleep. While at night you might be able to sneak into his room when he wakes up and pop his pacifier in or give him a quick rocking back to sleep, these methods often don't work during the day. The reason for this is that the drive to sleep is lower during the day and it is harder for baby to return to sleep after a partial awakening. Even if you rush in at first peep it may be too late and he will fight your efforts, making any chance for a nap extension a failure.

  • Inappropriate Schedule. If your baby is sleeping out of his natural rhythms then naps will likely suffer. Too early wake-ups and too late bedtimes will surely ruin a nap schedule. Creating a schedule that's optimized for sleep is crucial to baby getting healthy, restorative sleep - day and night.

  • Inconsistency. Babies and children crave routine and thrive on predictability. It is important to have a consistent nap routine, a consistent sleeping location, and a (somewhat) predictable daily routine in order for children to take long, healthy, and restorative naps.

  • Sleeping Environment. We need to make sure that a child's sleeping environment is safe and conducive to sleep. Their room should be dark (if you think of it on a scale of 1-10, 1 being bright and sunny, and 10 being pitch black, you want that room at an 8-10 during the day and at night). Baby's room should be kept on the cooler side. As well, white noise is a must-have, especially if your home is noisy or there are a lot of outside disturbances (loud garbage trucks, dogs barking, etc).

  • Periods of wakefulness are too long.  While it seems counterintuitive, a baby who is kept awake longer during the day will not nap better.  Keeping your child up longer in hopes that he will 'crash' and sleep better will only backfire.  Babies fall asleep easiest and stay asleep longest if you get them to sleep at the peak of sleepiness.  Well-rested children accept sleep more readily, sleep better, and sleep longer than overtired ones.  So how long is too long?  Here's an idea of the maximum amount of time your child should be kept awake at any given age:

Under 2 months: 45 minutes to 1 hour max
3 months: 1.5 hours max
4 months: 1.75 to 2 hours max
5 months: 2 hours max
6 months: 2.5 hours max
7 months: 2.75 hours max
8/9 months: 3 hours max
10/11 months: 3-4 hours max
12-14 months: 3-4 hours max on 2 naps, 4.5-6 hours max on 1 nap
15-18 months: 5-6.5 hours max
18 months until child drops naps around 3 years of age: 6.5 hours max

Whatever the reason may be, rest assured that short naps are a problem that can be fixed by ensuring that we aren't making any of the above mistakes.  If you are looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation, feel free to contact me for a one-on-one baby & toddler sleep consultation.
 

Typical Nap & Night Sleep Needs from Birth to 14 months

teddy.jpg

Disclaimer: all babies are different and have different sleep needs. The information I will share with you is an AVERAGE amount of sleep/naps that a baby needs at any given age.



Under 2 months: babies will have 4 naps or more and there will be no rhyme or reason; some will be 30 minutes, some will be 3 hours. You can help with day/night confusion by making sure to wake baby up every 3 hours for a feed but don't feel that you need to keep baby awake during the day if she appears sleepy. Babies this age sleep 16-20 hours/day.


3 months: babies will often now be on a solid 4 nap schedule with a nap occurring every 1.5 hours or less. We would like to see most naps be over 1 hour, and you may want to consider conducting 'nap extensions' for any nap under 60 minutes.  At this age, 15.5-18 hours of sleep/day is average.


4 months: babies may start to transition from 4 naps to 3 at this age and bedtime will therefore need to be earlier to make up for the loss of the 4th nap. Naps will occur every 1.5-1.75 hours and many people find that baby will go through a 'cat napping phase' around 4-6 months so keeping them well-rested with an early bedtime will be very important. About 4-4.5 hours in naps is average at this age, and 15.5 hrs total in a 24 hour period.


5 months: most babies will be on a 3 nap schedule with the first 2 naps being around 1-1.5 hours in length and the 3rd nap is usually a cat nap of around 30-45 minutes. We want to ensure that naps are ending by about 4:00pm to preserve an early bedtime. Late naps interfere with nightsleep. About 3.5-4 hours in naps is average at this age, and 15 hours of sleep/day.


6 months: some babies will start to show signs of the 3-2 nap transition at this age by refusing the 3rd nap or the 3rd nap begins too late in the day. We can help hold off the transition by capping the first two naps at around 1.5 hours a piece to ensure the 3rd nap can occur. About 3-3.5 hours in naps is average at this age, and 14.5 hrs/24 hour period.


7 months: at this age we see some babies start to drop their 3rd nap and move toward a 2 nap schedule. During this transition, you will want to use an early bedtime (sometimes as early as 5pm) to make up for the loss of that 3rd nap. The goal with babies still on a 3 nap schedule is to protect nightsleep at all costs. An early bedtime is far more restorative than a late crappy 3rd nap. 2.75-3.25 hrs in naps is normal at this age, and 14-14.5 hours of total sleep/day.


8 months: most babies at this age are solidly on 2 naps and are also moving towards a full, consolidated night of sleep (11-12 hours with no feeds). Nap amounts and total sleep needs are the same as at 7 months, but we will see that total dispersed between two longer naps (around 1-1.5 hours a piece).


9 months: all babies should now be on a 2 nap schedule until around 13-18 months (the most common age to drop to 1 nap is 15 months). 2.5-3 hours of naps and 14 hours of total sleep is average and a baby who is well-established on solids can now comfortably go a full night with no feeding (as per doctor's recommendations).  


10-14 months: at this age, we may have to start playing with our nap times/lengths to ensure that both naps are able to be taken without bedtime being pushed too late. Baby may also start to fight the 2nd nap and start to show signs of being ready to transition to 1. We want to avoid moving to 1 nap too early as the jump in awake time needed from a 2 nap schedule to a 1 nap schedule is quite significant. The longer we can hold off the transition, the smoother it will be.  Most children will be napping 2-3 hours/day at this point, and require 13.5-14 hours of total sleep per day.
 

Tips for Travelling with Kids

All parents know that vacationing with kids is not usually 'a vacation' at all, but if we are prepared and have a plan of action we can spend less time worrying about sleep and more time worrying about how much sand they've eaten :-)

Before your trip

  • Make sure you are calling the hotel ahead of time to be sure that there is a crib for your baby/toddler to sleep in. If not, bring along a playpen (there are many hotels whose cribs may not meet the Canadian standards so you may want to think of bringing yours from home anyway).

  • Prepare a 'fun pack' for the car/plane. Bring along snacks, books, new toys that will keep their attention longer, a portable DVD player, I-pad, and whatever other tricks you have up your sleeve to help pass the time. Take one thing out at a time and drag it out for as long as possible.

  • Bring along everything from baby's crib to make their environment as similar to home as possible. This can include their white noise machine (very important!), stuffed animals/loveys/blankies, an unwashed crib sheet, and any other objects your child may use to feel at home.

At your desination

  • Prepare baby's room once you arrived so that it is set for nap/bedtime. A great place to put baby's playpen would be in the bathroom or a walk-in closet if one is available. This will ensure that the room is dark and quiet. It seems a little nuts but I can ensure you that baby won't mind!

  • If the bathroom is too small or there is not a closet large enough for a playpen, then try and designate an area of the hotel room as 'baby's room'. This might mean being creative and tacking a bed sheet to the walls to divide baby's room from yours. This is where white noise is important as it will help to drown out the sounds from the rest of the room. Darken baby's 'room' as much as you can using black construction paper, tin foil, or a blanket/bed sheet on the window.

  • You really want to avoid co-sleeping if it's entirely possible (unless of course you are already co-sleeping). Depending on the length of your trip, baby will become accustomed to this new sleeping arrangement and you may find it difficult to kick the habit once you're back home. As well, a baby that is not used to sleeping with mom and dad (and a mom and dad that aren't used to sleeping with baby!) may find that they do not get a restful sleep together.

this is the life!

this is the life!

Time Zone Shifts

Having a plan in place and understanding the effect that travel has on your child's sleep pattern is important to avoid worry and limit problems.  Children and adults cannot adjust instantly from one time zone to another, although children often have an easier time adjusting than adults.

If you are travelling west (1-3 time zones)

  • Try to keep baby awake until the 'correct' bedtime in the new time zone. If the change is too significant to accomplish the first night, do it gradually over a couple of days.

  • You may have to wake up early with your child for a day or two. Try to leave him in his crib as close to 6:00am the new time as you can, but if he's very upset it is not fair to leave him crying since he has not fully adjusted, so you may have to live with an early wake-up for a couple of days. Chances are you will be awake as well as your body will have not adjusted either.

  • Do not let your child 'over-nap' to make up for a loss of nightsleep. We want to avoid baby making up nightsleep during the day as this will only lead to less nightsleep the following night and the cycle will continue. Try to delay his naps (but only by about 15-30 minutes for younger children) to get them as close to 'normal' nap time as possible.

If you are travelling east (1-3 time zones)

  • Your child will probably be staying up later than he usually does for the first night or two.

  • Wake your baby the next day up at the 'correct' wake-up time according to the new time zone. Again, if the change is too large to accomplish in one day, do it gradually over a couple of days.

  • Do not let your child 'over-nap'. Naps, like bedtime, will run late by the amount of the time change, so allowing him to nap longer than usual will only push bedtime even later.

If you are travelling across more than 3 or 4 time zones

  • Children handle these large changes much more easily than adults do. This is because the drive to sleep during the day when our adult bodies aren't supposed to sleep is much higher in children (especially, of course, with those that are still napping). Parents often find that their children adapt quickly so there is no need to make big, elaborate plans.

  • You can't force a child to sleep when he is not tired but you can force a child to stay up (within reason) when he is sleepy (or when he should be awake according to the new time zone). Baby will self-correct quickly by making up for the lost sleep at proper times according to the new time zone. If you wake him up when he is asleep at the 'wrong times' he will want to sleep at the 'right times'. This is the most important advice so if you keep it in mind, everything will work out.

  • If you travel east - your child will probably fall asleep much later than usual at first and have to be awakened in the morning. If you travel west - he will want to fall asleep much earlier and you will have to keep him awake. Either way, the times he wants to sleep or be awake are going to be very erratic for a couple of days but it should not last for more than that.

babysleep.jpg

Travelling, especially across time zones, with children can be stressful, but if you have a solid plan in place and are prepared that it will take a couple of days to adjust, it doesn't need to be a major headache.  The best way to re-set our biological clocks is sunshine.  Especially if you are travelling to an exotic place, it shouldn't be too difficult to make sure your child is getting plenty of sun during the day (especially early morning and early evening depending on which direction you are travelling).  Most people make the necessary changes without even thinking about them because of expectations driven by activities, meals, and other obligations.  Safe travels!