Babies up to about four months of age generally sleep when they are fed and comfortable and are starting to enjoy ‘playing’ with their carers. This might mean chatting, being sung to, taken out for a walk and looking at things they can focus on. If you’re having trouble with sleeping or settling, background noises and movement (in a car or sling) tend to promote sleep – being taken on a car journey or pushed in a pram will almost always settle a young baby to sleep.
A day in the life…
While many baby experts advise letting a young baby set its own routine, many mums prefer a more structured approach. Here’s Gina Ford’s morning routine for a breast-fed baby at six to eight weeks.
- 7am: Baby should be awake, nappy changed and feeding no later than 7am.
- 8am: You should have cereal toast and a drink. Wash and dress baby.
- 8.50am: Check his nappy and close the curtains.
- 9am: Settle the drowsy baby, half swaddled and in the dark with the door shut no later than 9am.
- 9.45am: Open the curtains and unswaddle baby so that he can wake up naturally.
- 10am: Baby must be fully awake now, regardless of how long he slept. If he had a full feed at 7am he should last until 10.45am for his next feed. If he fed earlier, followed by a top-up feed at 7.30am, he may need to start this 10am feed earlier. Encourage him to have a good kick under his play gym.
- 10.45am: He should be given 20-25 minutes from the breast he last fed on, then offered 10-15 minutes from the second breast while you have a large glass of water. Do not feed after 11.30am, as it will put him off his next feed.
- 11.45am: Regardless of what he has done earlier, he should now be taken to his room. Change his nappy, close the curtains and settle baby, half or fully swaddled and in the dark with the door shut not later than 12 noon.
Research has shown that there are predictable times during the first few years of a child’s life when they might be more demanding than usual. Each time is known as a ‘wonder week’ because it’s during these more difficult weeks that babies are making big steps forward in their development. Knowing when your baby is going through a wonder week may help you get navigate the tumultuous times.
Wow! At around 8 weeks of age, a baby begins to recognise more of the people and things around her.
3 top calming tips
If your baby is feeling unsettled, try these calming tips:
- Take your baby for a walk outside, either in your arms or in a sling.
- Hold your baby in your arms and hum while gently bouncing on a fitball – the humming and bouncing will relax both you and your baby.
- Breastfeed your bub to sleep. While some experts might warn against this, parenting doyenne Pinky McKay says the combination of hormones and sucking motion is one of the best ways to settle a baby.
It’s worth bearing in mind that routines are easy for some babies to pick up, and not so easy for others, so these are only suggestions and guidelines.