Get With The Routine
Once your baby is 2 or 3 months old, he'll eat less often and sleep for longer stretches. This is the perfect time to watch for any patterns that emerge. Here's what to expect.
2 to 4 Months:
- Babies usually take a morning nap within an hour or two of waking up and will sleep for an hour. (Most also take a second and third nap, but times and lengths of these are more variable.) Put your baby down for a nap at the first sign that she's tired. "Signs include yawning, less babbling, and less interest in her surroundings," says Marc Weissbluth, M.D., author of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. "If your baby is rubbing her eyes, you've probably waited too long. Try putting her down ten or 15 minutes earlier the next day."
- She'll enjoy longer periods of activity after mealtime. Set aside 15 to 20 minutes to let her play under her baby gym or on the floor.
- She'll probably be ready for bed much earlier in the evening, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
4 to 6 Months:
- In addition to a regular morning nap, a predictable afternoon nap usually develops, often starting between noon and 2 p.m. and lasting an hour. Some babies—about 15 percent—will also take a third nap between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. "This is fine as long as it doesn't keep him awake past 8 p.m.," Dr. Weissbluth says
- During this period, your baby's mealtimes will probably follow more of a pattern: He'll nurse or bottle-feed when he wakes up and again in the midmorning, early afternoon, late afternoon, and early evening. Introducing solids will add more structure to your day.
6 to 12 Months:
- Most babies in this age range take two solid naps—each lasting an hour to an hour and a half—at around 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. If your baby takes a third nap, it will most likely disappear by the time he's 9 months.
- If you haven't already, pick up those board books! "You should read to your baby every day," Dr. Widome says. "Block out at least ten minutes in the morning or before bed."