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I just became the parent of two beautiful twin girls. They were born on April 9th and they are 2.5 weeks old. I also have a 19 month old son. I am a firm believer in teaching a baby how to fall asleep without having to have them fall asleep in your arms. When Cooper was an infant, I would rock him until he was drowsy, that would take sometimes up to 15 minutes of rocking to get him to the drowsy stage. If I did not rock him and just lay him in his crib, he would never go to sleep on his own. He needed my help. In hindsight, I wish I would never have rocked him before he went to sleep. I should have just held him until he started to calm down. Eventually, I could just lay my son down without any rocking, but that did not come until he was a much older baby, probably over 9 months old.

With the twins, I only have one pair of arms to rock a baby. I am also limited on the amount of time I can spend helping the twins go to sleep because I have to worry about my 19 month old. What I have been doing is swaddling the twins real good, putting them in their bouncers and swings, and waiting for their sleepy cues that it is time to go to sleep. Their sleepy cues is less activity and their eyes start to get heavy and dart back and forth under their eye lids. At that point, I pick them up, carry them to their cribs, and lay them down. I sometimes give them a pacifier if are having trouble. Since I started doing this, they go to sleep well on their own.

On occasion, one of the twins just has trouble going to sleep. When that happens, I do the following things:
1. Put a pacifier in their mouths.
if that does not work…
2. Rub their heads or tummies to calm them
if that does not work…
3. Just let them fuss
if that does not work…
Pick them back up and return them to bouncer/ swing until drowsy and then lay them down again

Just let them fuss: I have actually perfered to do this method. As long as the girls are not truly crying, then I will let them fuss and get themselves to calm down. This is teaching them to self-sooth so they will not need much assistance to drift off to sleep. If their fussing turns into true crying, then I usually pick them up and try the bouncer or swing until drowsy.

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What is the 45 minute intruder?

The 45 minute intruder is a term that was coined in the book Baby Wise, but this is not a Baby Wise phenomenon. The 45 minute intruder refers to when your baby wakes up from a nap or nighttime sleep after only being asleep for 45-50 minutes. Why are some babies waking up at this point? Well, if they are in a growth spurt, it might be because they are hungry. However, if they are not in a growth spurt and are well feed it could be related to their sleep cycles. Babies cycle from light, deep, and back to light sleep in about 45-50 minutes. When your baby returns to light sleep, they may partialy arouse. If they hear a noise, smell something funny, realize they are too hot or cold, or are conditioned to need a sleep prop such as rocking or nursing to sleep, they will have difficulty returning to sleep to complete another sleep cycle. For more information on sleep cycles, read my post entitled “infant sleep cycles”https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/13/infant-sleep-cycles/

Other possible causes for waking 45-50 minutes into a nap could be due to being overtired, overstimulate, or not enough wake/ play time. If you keep your baby up too longer, they may be too tired and wake up early from a nap. Or perhaps you had company over and everyone was playing with your baby, that may have overstimulated your child. Both overstimulation and overtiredness can cause a baby to wake early out of a nap. Make sure you are following your son/ daughter’s naps cues and you get them down for a nap before this occurs. For more on this read my post entitled “Sleep Windows: Get them to bed before it’s too late”  https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/sleep-windows-get-them-to-bed-before-its-too-late/ It may be possible that you did not keep your child up long enough. That happen to my son a couple of times. I put him down for his nap and he fall asleep relatively easy, but would wake up 45 minutes into his nap. It occurred to me that he was getting older and may need to stay awake longer. I adjusted his awake time and that solved the waking up at 45 minutes. I believe he just was not tired enough to take a long nap. For more about appropriate awake time lengths see my post entitled, “Baby & Infant Daily Schedules” https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/infant-schedules/

My son had chronic 45 minute napping problems

My son has chronic problems with the 45 minute intruder from the time he was 2 months up until he was 4.5 months old (maybe even almost 5 months old). You could set a stop watch and he would wake exactly 45-50 minutes into each of his naps. It use to make me nuts. At first, I thought he was a short napper, but he would wake up fussy. According to Baby Wise and The Baby Whisperer, your baby should not fussy if they just woke up from a nap and you’ve feed them upon waking. The Baby Wise book says that it can last a few day or even two weeks–ha! This lasted for 2.5-3 months. I never thought I would see the day when he would sleep straight through a nap.  By the time he hit 4.5 months old, he was sleeping through most of his naps without waking. We still had the occasional 45 minute intruder, but that was about 20% of the time. Now he is 7 months old and my son rarely ever wakes up early from a nap unless he is in a growth spurt, has a dirty diaper, or a sound from our condo building has stirred him.

What I did to get through the 45 minute intruder

Lay a firm hand on his chest: a little before the 45 minute mark, I would creep into his room and place my hand on his chest. I would press firmly on his chest and apply a little pressure. This kept him from startling himself awake when he was transitioning from one sleep cycle to the next. I did this when my son was very young around 4-8 weeks old.

Swaddle/ Sound Machine: I started to swaddle my son really tight so he would not startle himself awake. This helped a lot. I bought a swaddle me (http://www.kiddopotamus.com/p_swad.php), but then I added an extra step to the swaddle me. I took a piece of cloth from a receiving blanket and would lay it behind his back and weave the fabric over his arms and tuck it behind his back again. This kept his arms good and snug so there was no way he could break free while napping. This kept his body from jerking himself awake. I got this idea from the miracle blanket. Watch their instructional video clip to see how I modified the swaddle me to keep his arms snug. http://www.miracleblanket.com/video.htm I also used a fan and later a sound machine to block out the noise he may have heard from living in a condo building. Both of these things helped greatly, but we still had our issues. The most important thing is to make sure you create a good sleep environment that eliminates as much stimulus as possible. For more on creating a good sleep environment read my post called “Creating a Good Sleep Environment” https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/27/create-a-good-sleep-environment/

Cry-It-Out (CIO): Around 10 weeks old, I believe that I start to just let Cooper cry-it-out at the 45 minute mark. The first week I started this, he would cry for almost 45 minutes until it was time to get up for his next feeding. But it only took a week, and after that if he woke up at the 45 minute mark, he would only cry for 5-15 minutes and then fall back to sleep for another sleep cycle of 45-50 minutes. This pattern of waking up at the 45 minute mark and crying lasted for about a month (the entire time he was 3 months old). The nice thing was, when I finally got him up to feed him he was always happy and well rested! Then around 4 months old, he would still wake up at the 45 minute mark, but just fuss or cry a tiny bit and drift back to sleep right away!

Other Nap Intervention Suggestions

I have not tired these various methods, but I have a friend who used the PU/PD method with great success. I have used the wake-to-sleep at night, but never during the day. It worked great for me at night. Both of these strategies come from the book The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. (p.251)

Wake-to-Sleep: “Instead of waiting for her to wake, go into her room at 30 minutes, because that’s when she starts to come out of a deep sleep…pat her gently until you see her body relax again. It could take 15-20 minutes of gentle patting. If she starts to cry, though, you’ll have to send her back to sleep with PU/PD.”

PU/PD (Pick Up/ Put Down): This method is intended for a baby 4 month or older. You pick your child up while he is crying and the minute he stops crying you put him back in his crib. If he starts crying, pick him up again. Then if he stops crying, place him in the crib again. You will repeat the pick up/ put down until he stops crying and will fall asleep in his crib on his own. “Granted the first time you try this remedy either situation, you might spend the entire nap period doing PU/PD. and then it’s time for the next feeding. Now both of you are tired! Because sticking to the routine is as important as lengthening her nap, you need to feed her and then try to keep her up at least half and hour before putting her down for her next nap- at which point you’ll probably have to do PU/PD again because she is overtired.” Just keep repeating the PU/ PD until he quietly lays in his crib without crying. (The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems p.221-224) I have a friend who used this method with her son with great success. For more on this method read: https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/11/pupd-pick-up-put-down-baby-whisperers-sleep-training-method/

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How can you know if your baby is getting the right about of sleep? Are they getting too much or too little? According to Kim West in her book Good Night, Sleep Tight “children need to get the right amount of sleep and they need to get the right kind of sleep. Quality counts along with quantity. Good Sleep should be largely uninterrupted. If your child is getting up a lot, she isn’t getting all the sound sleep she needs.”

Signs that you baby is not getting enough sleep:

  • Baby falls asleep in the carseat all the time– A well rested child will not fall asleep in the car often, unless it is close to his scheduled nap time.
  • Sleep disruptions– if your baby is overtired you will notice that you baby may have more difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. You child may wake early from a nap or wake several times throughout the night if overtired. Or you child may have difficult falling asleep at night. For more on this see my post about sleep windows.  https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/sleep-windows-get-them-to-bed-before-its-too-late/
  • Fussy/ Irritable- You may notice that your baby is waking from a nap or nighttime sleep fussy. Your baby should be waking up happy unless they have not slept enough. Young babies will wake from a nap crying, but that is usually due to hunger. Once they are feed, they are generally content unless they did not get enough sleep. Make sure you don’t rush in when you hear your baby stir during sleep or naps, they might be cycling from one sleep cycle to the next. If you leave them alone they might return to sleep on their own. For more on this see my posts entitled “Baby Wise: Sleep Training” https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/06/baby-wise-sleep-training/ and “Sleep Cycles” https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/13/infant-sleep-cycles/

Quantity?: Check my post about sleep requirements that babies need. For instance a three month old should be getting a total of 15 hours, 10 hours at night and 5 hours during the day (spread over 3 naps). If you are already jotting down the time and length of each of your daily naps in a sleep log, then you should be able to quickly total up the amount of sleep to see if it equals 15 hours. Some babies will sleep slightly less or slightly more than the recommended amount, but usually no more than an hour of deviation. At 3 months old my son slept for about 15.5 hours a day, 9 hours at night and 6.5 during the day. You can see that my son still slept close to 15 hours a day, but his nighttime sleep was a little less and his day time sleep was a little more than the average infant at that age. The important thing is that he was getting at least 15 hours and appeared to be well rested.   https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/08/sleep-requirements-for-infants/

Quality?: Your baby really needs to sleep in his own crib or bassinet for his naps and nighttime sleep. Prior to 6-8 weeks old, your newborn is so sleepy they will sleep in someones arms, in the car, in the swing. When your baby is older than 6-8 weeks old, they really need to sleep in a stationary crib. “Motion lulls us to sleep, bit it also keeps us in a lighter, more fragmented sleep; our brains never reach the level of full restorative sleep if we’re moving.” If your baby falls asleep in the car (and it will happen every now and again), try to move them from the car to the crib as soon as you get home. If you put your baby in a swing before nap time and you notice him drifting off to sleep, quickly remove him and place him in his crib. Now I know that babies are only little for so long and that you might want to hold them a little while they sleep, that is okay. Just try not to make that a habit.  Also, it is important to make sure that your baby’s room is conducive to sleep. You would not want to put your baby down for a nap in a bright room right outside a noisey street. Try to make sure your baby’s room has very little sound and light and is a good temperature. For more on how to create a good sleep enviroment for you baby see my post “Create a Good Sleep Enviroment” https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/27/create-a-good-sleep-environment/

Quotes taken from Good Night, Sleep Tight by Kim West p. 35-36

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My son who is now 7 months old started waking up an hour early for about the past 3 weeks. He does not do this consistently. I was looking over my notes and it seems that he has been waking between 5:45-6:30 but occasionally sleeping in until 7am (which seems to happen mostly on weekends). I should add that I have dark out blinds in his room and a white noise machine running all night long.

Here’s my theory for why he is waking an hour early:

First, it is getting lighter sooner. I think this is setting off a natural alarm clock in Cooper that says, “rise and shine”. Unfortunate for Chris and I because our alarm clock says, “no thanks we need another hour”. I have tired to darken the room even more than it was, but there is still a faint bit of daylight creeping through, enough to make it appear to not be night but morning. The hormone that signals sleep, melatonin starts to decrease in the early morning hours, causing us to have lighter sleep. Sunlight also decreases the amount of melatonin that we produce.

Second, our neighbors above us (we live in a condo) have been waking up early in the morning it seems. I hear them somewhere between 5am and 6am. I can hear their footsteps and water running. Occasionally, I might even hear their dog tramping across the floor or let out a bark. They are not being overly loud, but the noises are enough to stir me awake. (I am a light sleeper to begin with.)

Conclusion: I think I am just going to have to accept the fact that Cooper is waking at 6am. I cannot not tell God to make the day light come up an hour later and I cannot tell my neighbors above us to wake up later. This just means that Chris and I need to go to bed an hour earlier at night and wake up at 6am instead of 7am. Oh well!

Future Action: Since we are moving to Texas in a month, the time zone will change and we will be an hour behind Maryland time. This might be the chance for me to get Cooper back to waking at 7am. I will be in a quieter house with no condo neighbors and the time change will make it easier for me to just shift his schedule.

There are many reasons your little one could be waking early in the mornings

  • might need less sleep– check my post about the average amount of sleep your infant should be getting daily. It could be that your child is older and now requires less sleep at night or during the day. If your baby is getting too much daytime sleep, it could be causing him to wake early. Or if you little one is sleeping too long at night, they could be waking up.  https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/08/sleep-requirements-for-infants/
  • morning nap is to close to nighttime sleep- if you don’t keep your baby up long enough in the morning, your little one could be confusing the first nap of the day as part of his nighttime sleep. Try extending his wake time between the time he wakes from nighttime sleep to the first nap.
  • afternoon nap is to close to nighttime sleep- the last nap of the day or the afternoon nap if you are down to two naps is to close to nighttime sleep, this could also cause your child to possibly wake up early.
  • hunger- your child could be going through a growth spurt or just need more food. Try feeding him more solids or offering bottles/ nursing more frequently during the day to prevent him from waking early in the morning. You can also try to offer a later dinner that has more carbohydrates to keep him fuller longer. You can also do a late night feeding (some people call this a dream feed). A late night feeding is when you feed your baby after already being asleep for the night between 10-11pm. This might help to hold his hunger out longer in the morning.
  • needs a longer awake time- you might try keeping your child up longer in between naps and nighttime sleep. Your child may not be tired enough to sleep for a longer stretch. If you adjust their awake time, they may sleep longer. See my post on infant schedules, it includes average awake times for infants. https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/infant-schedules/
  • overtired/ overstimulated- if you child has been not sleeping well and may have had a lot of disruptions to his sleep, then that too could cause him to wake early. Try to get your baby to bed during their “sleep window” before they become overtired/ overstimulated. Stay as consistent with your schedule as possible too- this helps to get your little on back on track. See my post on sleep windows https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/sleep-windows-get-them-to-bed-before-its-too-late/
  • too bright in bedroom- the room may be to bright in the morning. Invest in some darkening blinds or put cardboard up to block the light.
  • too noisy- invest in a good quality sound machine/ white noise machine, run a fan, or play soft music in the background to block out external noises from loud neighbors, your own home, or outside.
  • room temperature is too hot or too cold– make sure to dress your baby appropriately for bed. If they are either too hot or too cold they will wake more easily, especially in the morning when melatonin, the hormone that helps us to sleep, is wearing off.

Some kids are just early birds

If your child wakes up happy, you have tried all the suggestions above, and you have seen no improvement, then you might just have to accept the fact that your child is waking early. Some children just wake early. Just adjust their schedule as needed to accommodate the earlier wake time.

Other Resources About Early Risers

Note: many of the ideas were pulled from Good Night, Sleep Tight p. 98-100 and the internet resources provided

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Just like it is good to establish a good bedtime routine, it is just as important to establish a good morning routine. In Kim West’s book Good Night, Sleep Tight she discusses a good part of a morning routine should be a “dramatic wake-up”. A dramatic wake-up should signal to your child that the day has started and it is different than waking in the middle of the night. To establish a “dramatic wake-up” try opening the blinds, turn on the bight over head light, and signing a happy song.

Why is this important? You want your child to know the difference between day and night. This helps to establish the difference clearly. If you have to go into their room during the night, you are are not going to sign a song and turn on a bright light. At night you keep as little stimulation from occurring as possible. The morning is the time to arouse and stimulate your child, helping them to set their natural alarm clocks. This is particularly important with newborns who are very sleepy. Many newborns have their day and nights confused- this helps to distinguish the difference.

It might also be helpful if you allow daddy to do the dramatic wake-up. This gives daddy the one-on-one time with baby and it does not require nursing (if nursing). Daddy can sing and talk to the baby while mommy either readies herself to breastfeed or perhaps is preparing the bottle. If you baby is not starving, you can also include a diaper change and change out of pajamas. Young infants tend to wake in the morning crying from hunger, you might have to delay the diaper change and clothing change until after the feeding. Another suggestion, try feeding your child in a well lit room that is not in the nursery in the morning. This will also help to establish the start of the day. Keep the day time feeding out of the nursery and all nighttime feeding in the nursery.

Here is what we do with our son for a “dramatic wake-up”

Dad goes in his room, turns on the light, opens the windows, and talks and plays with Cooper for a minute or two. Daddy then brings Cooper into our bedroom so that I can breastfeed him. After I finish feeding him, I put him on the potty (we do infant potty training), change his diaper, and put on a outfit for the day. We do this routine pretty much every day. Notice that daddy gets to get him up and I feed him. We share the responsibility and it gives us each quality one-on-one time with your son.

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In the book Good Night, Sleep Tight Kim West writes about sleep windows. A sleep window is the time your child would naturally go to sleep. If you time it right, your child’s body starts to produce melatonin, which is a hormone that helps induce sleep. If you keep your child up past this precious sleep window, they stop producing melatonin and start producing cortisol, a stress-related hormone that will eventually overstimulate your child, thus creating a second wind. “He will be more agitated, more difficult to console, more likely to need a lot more of your time and energy to help him wind down again and get to sleep.”

If he naturally falls asleep around 7pm and you keep him up until 8pm, he will most like not sleep well. He’ll have a hard time falling asleep and even staying asleep. He may wake several times in the night and maybe even wake earlier than normal in the morning before he is well rested. “This cycle can lead to poor naps the next day, which will lead to an overtired baby at bedtime, which leads to poor nighttime sleep.”

It is important that you learn your child’s sleep cues. Every child is different, but here are a few common sleep cues: “rubbing eyes, yawning, becoming less active, maybe a little listless.” Don’t wait until your child is fussing and crying, almost always at this point you have waited to long and your child is overstimulated/ overtired.

“If you have trouble detecting your child’s signals, keep one eye on him and another on the clock. Try going into a quiet, dimly lit room and engaging in a very gentle activity when you think nap time or bedtime is approaching. The signs may then appear.” For me, I will take my son into his bedroom and turn off all the light and only turn on the reading lamp and we read a story. If he will sit calmly in my lap, then I know it is time for sleep. Try taking your child to his room and reading a story, doing infant massage, sing soft songs together, or lay on the floor and talk to you child. Just keep the activity simple and quiet.

Personal Experiences: My son is currently having trouble sleeping. I suspect that he is overtired and I am missing his sleep windows. We had a lot of disruptions to his schedule last week. He had a cold, we had a home inspection (because we are selling our home) that cut a nap short, we were out late at a friends house, cut a nap short for church on Sunday. I think that all these disruptions added up. I did not see the signs at first, but a good friend of mind helped me to see that he was probable overtired. Then I pulled Kim West’s book out and it hit home. I started to really watch for his sleep cues. For my son, his eye lids get really pink and you can see the veins in them. If he yawns, I may have already been to late. So I watched for the sleep cues today, but his naps were still pretty poor, which is most like a results of poor nighttime sleep the night before. I imagine if I do it again another day, his naps will improve. He has also been waking up around 5am when his wake time is 7am. I know this is due to missing his sleep window and becoming overstimulated/ overtired. His bedtime is 7pm, but we were not always diligent about getting him to be at 7pm. I should have known better because it has backfired! So tonight, I made sure he was in bed before 7pm so he would have plenty of time to fall asleep. Another thing to note, because he was so overtired today, I went back to rocking him before naps and bedtime. I did not let him fall asleep in my arms. I only did this to help him relax since he was so overstimulate from a weeks worth of poor sleep. I am hoping that tomorrow I will start to see the benefits of getting my son down for his naps and bedtime during his “Sleep window” and staying as consistent as possible! UPDATE 4/27/08: My son is back to taking his solid 2-2 hour naps a day and getting 11-12 hours of sleep a night. It took about 2 days of being consistent with timing his sleep windows and watching his tired cues, but he is back to sleeping well! He is not longer overtired and has been in a great mood!

Quotations are from Good Night, Sleep Tight by Kim West p. 33-35

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There are two books that I highly recommend you read if you have a small infant: Babywise and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. These two books have been a huge resource to me, especially when Cooper was under 4 months old. I have turned through the pages of these two books plenty of times. Both books talk about a daily schedule that follows a very simple pattern it looks something like this:

  1. Eat
  2. Awake/ Play
  3. Sleep
  4. Repeat (eat, play, sleep)

This pattern is important to follow because your baby does not learn to depend on eating (nursing/bottle) to fall asleep.

Be careful not to hyper schedule- be flexible

Depending on how old your baby is will determine how long each cycle (eat, play, sleep) will be. Your baby is not a robot and each cycle may vary by a few minutes each day. It is important not to hyper schedule and only feed the baby by the clock. Also keep in mind that at different parts of the day, your baby will be able to go longer between feeds than other times of the day. My son was only able to go 2.5 hours in the morning between feeds when he was under 3 months old. The rest of the schedule he was able to go 3 hours between each feed. Be flexible. Find out what works for your child and build your schedule around that.

Schedules Change

Schedules are constantly changing based on the developing needs of your child. Keep that in mind too! What worked last week might not work this week. Consider changing the amount of time your child stays awake if you child is having trouble napping by either decreasing or increasing his awake time.

What happens to the schedule when your baby has a growth spurt?

When a baby is in the middle of a growth spurt, if you are nursing, you must increase the number of times you feed your baby. This will only last a few days and you can go back to your normal schedule. If you are bottle feeding during a growth spurt, you can just increase the amount of formula in each bottle.

What determines the length of each cycle?

  1. Eating: this depends on how long your baby takes to eat (nurse/bottle). Newborns can take 20-45 minutes to nurse. As babies get older they get more efficient at eating. My son is now 6.5 months old and he nurses for 5 minutes on each side for a total of 10 minutes. When he was a newborn he was a fast eater, only nursing for a total of 15-20 minutes. Each baby is different and some take longer than others.
  2. Awake/ Play: this will depend on two factors- how old your baby is and how long it takes them to nurse. If your baby takes a long time to nurse then he will not have a lot of time left over to play. Below are some recommended awake times for each baby. Not all babies are the same. Some babies need shorter awake time while other may need longer. Remember to include how long your baby east when calculating awake time. As your baby gets older, wake times could vary. They tend to stay awake for a shorter time in the morning, longer in the afternoon, and even longer in the evening. See my post entitled 2-3-4 Nap Schedule for more on this: https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/2-3-4-nap-schedule-for-older-babies/
    Newborn 50-60 mins
    1 month 60 mins-hour and 15
    2 months 1 hour and 15 – 20 mins
    3 months 1 hour and 20 – 30 mins
    4 months 1 hour and 45 – 2 hours
    5 months 2 hours – 2.25 hours
    Late 5 months/early 6 months 2.25-2.5 hours
    6.5 – 7 months 2.75-3 hours. Some are getting more.
    8 – 10 months 3 – 4 hours. Some are getting more.
    11 – 12 months 3.5 -4.5 hours. Some are getting more if moved early to 1 nap
  3. Sleep (naps): this depends on how long your baby can stay awake and how long they can go in between feedings. Below is a the number of naps that each baby should take each day (this could vary). See my post Infant Sleep Requirements which gives more information about how long each nap should be.
    Newborn- 1 month 3-4 naps
    2- 3 months 3-4 naps
    3 months 3 naps
    4-5 months 2-3 naps
    6- 8 months 2-3  naps
    9- 18 months 2 naps
    18+ months 1 naps

I typed the schedules that I kept with my son every month. They have changed quite a bit as he has grown. https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/infant-schedules-by-month/

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