If you didn’t do math problems in your head pre-baby, you’re probably an expert on various sleep equations by now. Sleep is just one of those things that consumes your brain as a mom, especially a new mom. In fact, I remember wondering if my first son was getting too much sleep. What an odd notion that was!
The truth is, babies do sleep a lot from infancy into the toddler years. If you add up the naps and nighttime hours, most infants sleep 14-18 hours per day during their first week of life. And they sleep anywhere! At 1-month-old, your baby is probably still sleeping 12-15 hours per day.
If you look at the attached chart, you might find it surprising that the 8-hour rule of thumb we grew up with isn’t quite the same these days. In fact, children up to 17 years of age should be getting nine hours of sleep every night. Yep, even “big kids” need their rest. (If you’re a strict bedtime mom like me, you’ve been vindicated!)
Sleep Charts for Babies
Have you ever kept a journal of your baby’s waking and sleeping hours? If not, you may want to give a try because there are lot of ways a sleep chart can be a helpful tool for your and your family.
In my personal opinion, I would try this after your baby reaches one month old. For me, those first weeks were pretty much a blur anyway, so don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself.
Choosing a Sleep Chart
In a simple Google search, you’ll find lots of different styles of charts (templates). Pick one that you like and give it a try. I like the ones that include “down” time. This means you put your baby down, but she may fuss for an hour before she nods of to dreamland. That way you’re not counting “down” time as sleep time.
Establishing a Sleep Routine
After you track your baby’s habits for a week or so, you’ll start to see her natural sleep pattern emerge. Then you can adjust as needed to start putting her on a sleep routine. For example, if you notice that she dozes off for an hour around 11:00 a.m., you can start planning for that time to be an early nap. Then she’ll probably take a longer nap (2-3 hours) later in the afternoon.
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If you can track her sleep patterns at night, this can be helpful in figuring out when she’s going to wake up for a feeding. Perhaps you look at your chart and you notice an hour of awake time every night around 2:00 a.m. You can go to bed earlier if needed and plan your own sleep schedule accordingly, knowing that you’ll probably get a hungry wake-up call around 2:00 a.m.
A sleep chart can be helpful for other relatives and caregivers as well. If someone else is tending to your baby, that person can use the schedule too. It’s much easier to keep baby on her sleep routine if everyone is working together.
A sleep chart isn’t something you’ll do forever, but it does come in handy at certain ages. Some parents notice their baby’s sleep schedule changes every so often into the toddler years, based on growth spurts and development. Sometimes it’s nice to start a fresh one, because you have to re-evaluate what’s working and what isn’t.
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Image Credit: BabyCenter.com