An Early Bedtime
This is one of the best things I’ve done with baby! Since 4-5 months of age (when she was getting out of the evening cluster breastfeeding phase) I started to put her down at 7 or 7:30 pm in the evening, and she is now used to this routine. I think it actually helps her get used to a long stretch at night. At this young age though, the key I find is to feed her plenty during the day (every 2 hours or so) so that she is ‘tanked up’ to sleep better through the night without waking up for a feed.
By about 5 months of age is a good time to begin sleep training because this is when most babies have developed the ability to self-soothe. So start that ‘pat and shush’ method! It can take about 2-3 weeks though after consistently implementing this method, so be prepared.
Day and Night: A Fine Balance
It’s true, if baby sleeps too much in the daytime, or too close to bedtime, then he/she can be less tired and ready for bedtime later in the evening. It all depends on when you want baby to go to sleep. For me, I’ve found that when baby was younger if I woke her up from her afternoon nap no later than 3:30 pm, she was able to sleep at 7 pm. As baby grew older, eventually dropping her morning nap and waking up later in the morning, I’ve also had to adjust her afternoon nap times. But the principle still stands: too much daytime sleeping can make it harder for baby to go down for the night. Of course, it also depends on how much physical activity you give your little one that day!
Number of Hours
I remember doing research online about the total number of hours of sleep babies should get by months of age, and then getting worried when my baby didn’t meet this ‘quota’. Over time, however, I learned that the total number of hours a baby sleeps (daytime and night time added up) can really vary day to day or even every few days! And that’s ok! On average though, you may find your baby will generally sleep a set number of hours. I noticed my baby tends to go through a cycle of sleeping longer or more hours for a few days, and then sleeping less for the next few days. So if your baby sleeps less for a few days, don’t worry, he or she will likely make it up sometime in the following days/nights.