I know it can be a controversial topic, but we followed the principals from the Baby Wise book to create our daughter’s baby schedule. I don’t think it’s the only way or the exclusively right way to do things, but it’s the way that worked for our family and kept us sane especially through the early months. Every family has a different dynamic and may have a different and equally good structure. This is what worked for us. I didn’t follow every principle of the book, but the general framework of eliminating sleep aids, allowing Ellie to cry at times, and creating a routine baby schedule for her sleeping made all of us much happier and more functional people.
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We didn’t start implementing a baby schedule for Ellie until she was about 3 weeks old. It was then that after trying to rock her to sleep for hours in the middle of the night I pulled out the Baby Wise book and we decided that we needed to change our approach.
7:30-8am – Wake
8-8:30am – Nurse (sometimes this took up to 40-45 min rather than a half hour)
8:30-9am – Wake Time
9-11am – Nap
11-11:30am – Nurse
11:30-12:30 – Wake Time
12:30-2pm – Nap
2-2:30pm – Nurse
2:30-3:30pm – Wake Time
3:30-5pm – Nap
5-5:30pm – Nurse (at 4 months I introduced solids after nursing at this feeding)
5:30-6:30pm – Wake Time
6:30-7:30 – Nap (this nap was sometimes even shorter)
7:30-8pm – Wake Time
8-8:30pm – Nurse
8:30pm – Bedtime
Ellie also had a 10:30pm feeding until about one and a half to two months but for her it seemed to disrupt her sleeping and make it worse rather than helping her sleep through longer, so we cut it out and I just fed her overnight as she needed. I pumped each night at 10:30pm instead to maintain my milk supply and build a freezer stash. We also didn’t realize initially that the 10:30pm feeding was best as a dream feed so we might have developed a bad routine with it that made it unsettling even once we tried to transition it to a dream feed in her baby schedule later on.
We also firmly implemented the lights off and no playing or talking rule for all of her night time feedings. It was rough at the beginning with many periods of crying fits (from both baby and mommy), but eventually it became easy to feed her and put her right back into the crib each time.
Ellie slept through the night from 8:30pm to 7:30am for the first time right about at 18 weeks, and then did it four nights in a row! Needless to say we were very refreshed feeling parents and thankful for her baby schedule that was making such a big difference in her sleep. Ironically, she slept through the first night after we introduced some solids into her diet. For about a month prior to that she had been sleeping almost through but waking routinely for a 5-5:30am feeding.
Ellie still hit some patches (sometimes a full month at a time) of really rough nighttime sleep after she began sleeping through, but overall after each of those fussy periods she would revert back to being able to make it through the night. Most of the time it seemed that periods of rough nights were linked to developmental leaps or growth spurts (you can read my post about tracking developmental leaps here). At times it was also due to an overstimulating day or a day where she didn’t adhere well to her baby schedule and lost naps during the day.
I should also note that naps were a very big battle in Ellie’s baby schedule all the way through about six months. So though this was the basic framework for her eating and sleeping, naps sometimes took much longer to settle for or lasted much less than the indicated time. I also battled with my milk supply often which would lead to her baby schedule being disrupted for more frequent feedings and naps being shortened due to hunger. The above schedule is what we aimed for and generally followed for months one through four.
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