Last week we wrote about good habits for newborn babies, and this week we're looking at a similar theme for slightly older babies of 3-6 months. Like newborn babies, 3-6 month olds are still not ready (mostly) to sleep through the night, but they should be able to sleep for slightly longer stretches by this age. We say 'should'- of course, there are no rule books when it comes to babies, and whatever is normal for your baby might not be normal for another. That aside, you can encourage good sleep habits now, to help your baby sleep well when she's older. Here are a few good sleep habits for babies aged 3-6 months:
Understand your baby's sleep needs
As your older baby gets older, the amount of sleep that she needs differs slightly. As a general rule, your baby needs around 15 hours sleep a day, and at least ten of these should be at night. So we're talking 5 hours worth of naps during the day. Most babies take a short nap in the morning, a longer one in the afternoon and then another short one early evening. But this, of course, depends on your baby and your preferred routine. Remember that these are just general guidelines too- just as adults differ, babies do too and some babies may need more sleep than others. At this age, your baby will still be waking for feeds, at least 2-3 times a night and you can expect this to continue for now.
Establishing good habits now
As previously discussed, good sleep habits now will benefit the whole family later, so don't be afraid to prioritise sleep for a while. Here are some ways that you can do this:
- Have a set bedtime. This can be flexible, of course, but it helps to put your baby to bed at the same time (ish) every single day. This helps to set your baby's body clock and helps you to manage naps for the next day too.
- Have set nap times. You might find you need to plan your day around your baby a little, but this shouldn't be too much of a problem. Remember that you can use your SnoozeShade if you're out and about at nap time, otherwise make sure that you're home for sleep times every day.
- Watch for sleep cues and if your baby seems to be ready for a sleep earlier than usual, then go with it. Let your baby lead you as much as is possible and stick to your bedtime routine for each sleep too.
Fine tune your bedtime routine.
By this point, your baby and you should have a better idea of how things work together and you've probably got your bedtime routine down to a fine art. If not, work on it now. Read this post on the importance of a good bedtime routine. A good, solid bedtime routine will help your baby to understand when it is time to sleep so even if she is unwell, try to stick to the usual order if you can.
Make mornings work for you
If you aren't in the habit already, it could be a good idea to wake your baby in the morning, so that your planned naps can stay on track. This, of course, is a personal decision. It helps if you have other children that you need to take to school, for example, as you will need to be up and about anyway. Whether or nor you do wake your baby, have a set morning routine that works for you too:
- Start the day with a quick wash and get baby dressed.
- Have breakfast and feed baby.
- Spend some time playing with your baby and talk/ sing to her so that she can make a clear distinction between awake times and sleep times.