During the first few months, babies are not ready for a schedule, but you can use this time to prepare for future success. First, teach your baby to distinguish between day and night. She may reverse these times as she falls asleep in the womb, hypnotized by your movements. During the day, wake her up every three hours for feedings and to talk and sing.
Depending on her weight, you may also need to let your baby eat every four hours throughout the night. During feedings, keep it quiet and the lights low to encourage your child to return to sleep quickly.
Develop a sleep schedule.
When your baby is 4 to 6 months old, you may get the go-ahead from your doctor to establish a more regular sleep routine. Your little one may take three naps a day, ranging in length from 30 minutes to two hours. The morning nap may begin two hours after your baby wakes up, and the first afternoon nap should begin four hours after the morning begins. An optional third nap might be two hours from the second waking.
These intervals are only suggestions; it is more important to pay attention to when your baby rubs his eyes, when he becomes irritable, and when he loses interest in toys. At the first sign of fatigue, start a consistent bedtime routine: sing his favorite song and sit in the same chair with him. The ideal bedtime is 12 hours after waking in the morning, but if he doesn’t sleep well, he may need to go to bed earlier.
Develop a feeding schedule.
As babies grow, they will go longer between meals. Remember that irritability does not necessarily mean hunger. If your baby is acting hungry during the day, but it’s not time to eat, rule out other things first, like dirty diapers. To set a schedule, talk to your pediatrician about how often and how much you need to feed. Schedule nursing or bottle sessions based on her wake-up time and the time in between. Also remember that as you begin to reduce nighttime feedings, you may need to increase the amount of food during the day.