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Growth & Development

Learning to Sleep

Weeks 12–16:

  • Until your baby is 16 weeks old, he should be put to sleep after every 2 hours of being awake (at most).
  • Put your baby to sleep drowsy, but awake (this helps your baby to learn to fall asleep alone).
  • Darkness and calm serve as clues for your baby to know it is time to go to sleep.
  • Slow down activities at night and establish a bedtime routine (songs, bath).
  • Continue to have naps during the day to make sure that your baby sleeps better at night.
  • On average your baby should be taking 3 naps (or more) a day.
  • Be as consistent as possible. Try to have bedtime at the same time each day, with the same routine.
  • Some babies, particularly breastfed babies, need one night feeding up until they are 9 months old.


Weeks 16-24:

  • Your baby is ready to sleep through the night. Bedtimes should be earlier, usually around 6:30pm and after you do your bedtime routine. Earlier bedtimes lead to later wake up times!
  • If your baby is not naturally sleeping through the night, it is now ok to help him along.
  • If your baby is growing well, does not have more than one middle-of-the-night feeding, and your pediatrician agrees, you can allow him to “cry it out during his middle-of-the-night feeding. This is not the only way to get him to sleep through the night, but it is the fastest way. When your baby cries for his middle-of-the-night feeding, don’t go to him. If you do this 2 or 3 nights in a row he’ll soon be sleeping through the night!
  • If the “cry-it-out” method makes you uncomfortable, you can help your baby learn to sleep through the night more gradually. Allow him to cry for short intervals and then check on him, soothe him, rock him and put him down, without feeding him. Increase the amount of time you allow your baby to cry each night. This is a more gradual method, but also effective. Once he gets used to not eating at 2am, he’ll stop waking up.
  • Remember that you are teaching your baby important sleep and self-soothing skills.

A typical schedule at this age is wake at 7am, nap at 9am, nap at 1pm, nap at 4pm and bedtime at 6:30. Day sleep is now 3 naps and usually 1 hour or more (the last nap may be shorter since it is closer to bedtime). This schedule will vary depending on what time your baby naturally wakes up.

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