I have a 2.5 month old and his night sleeping times are all over the place. I've heard different things saying 4 months, 6 months, 1 year etc as appropriate ages to start a routine.

What is a good age to start enforcing a fixed sleep-time every night?

asked 14 Oct '09, 13:37

Umsd's gravatar image

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It's best to start as soon as possible to prepare him (I don't like the word force though).

What we do is in the day leave him sleeping near the light, we make noise, watch TV, talk normally, etc; and in the night there's no light, more silence, etc.

This helps him identify gradually the difference between day and night, and will foment a healthy sleeping schedule.

Nevertheless, with a child 2.5 month old, you have to feed him every 3-4 hours, so you can't expect him to sleep through the night just yet.


answered 14 Oct '09, 13:47

JJJ's gravatar image

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You are so right...sorry was not quite awake when I logged on this morning - all fixed :)

(14 Oct '09, 21:26) dreamerisme

Most sleep experts target the 4-6 month range as when your child is developmentally ready to have more consistent sleep patterns. However, I would be wary of "forcing" your child to do anything - it's more of a process than that. We started preparing our kids for consistent bedtime by introducing bedtime routines pretty early on - around 8 weeks. Just simple repeated steps - bath followed by pjs followed by books. Just to get them used to the idea that when these things happen, bedtime is not far behind. It wasn't until they were closer to 4-5 months that we started trying to be more consistent about the -time- we put them to bed and the times during the night we were ok with them waking up.

Sleep is such a personal issue - some people co-sleep, some people swear by CIO methods and some people swear that they don't work. Regardless of how you choose to parent your kids at night, the book by Marc Weissbluth (Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child) has a lot of really invaluable information about sleep and how kids' sleep patterns work, from a neurological standpoint. If you have any questions at all about your child's sleep, his book is worth reading.


answered 14 Oct '09, 14:12

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I really don't think you can enforce a sleep schedule on a 2.5 month old. However, you can start building good sleep habits. Let me mention this quickly because it is a common misconception, but sleeping through the night is a developmental event - not a food related event.

I would start by implementing a bedtime routine. This will help your baby start to recognize bedtime. We do a bath, eat, read a story and then go to bed every night. I would also make sure that you put your baby to bed drowsy but awake and avoid sleep props. While they may work now, you will most likely ending up having to break a bad habit down the line if you do things like rock your baby completely to sleep or let him sleep in the swing, etc. We had to get rid of the pacifier with my son because it caused him to wake up when he realized that it had fallen out of his mouth.

Your baby will start to have his own schedule develop over time. My son is a 6:30-7pm to 6:30-7 am sleeper. It's not exactly the same time every night, but is around the same time. BTW, sleeping through the night is medically defined as 5-6 hours. My son is 4.5 months and after sleep training, he's started sleeping about 8-10 hours in one stretch. I do a dreamfeed (feeding him while he's asleep) every evening at 10 pm and he wakes between 5 and 6:30 am to eat. He usually goes back down for 1.5 - 2 hours if he's up at 5 am.

You can also start to work on routines during the day - being flexible is important. At 3 months a baby can stay awake for about 90 minutes at a time before needing a nap. I like to do a sleep, eat, play routine. That way you can better distinguish between sleepy cues vs. hungry cues. My son gets up in the morning, eats, plays for a little bit and then around 10 minutes prior to the end of the 90 minute window we start winding down for nap. We have an abbreviated version of the bedtime routine at naptime. Typically changing his diaper, a short story and to bed. Sometimes he will not last 90 minutes depending on how well he has slept or napped, but he never lasts longer than 90 minutes. As babies get older they will stretch their awake time, but it is in pretty small increments - for example a 6 month old can stay awake for between 2-2.5 hours at a time.

The rest of the day follows that same schedule - eat, play and sleep every 90 minutes. As your baby starts developing his own wake times and bedtimes a predictable schedule will start to appear. Not exact times, but you can predict when he will be sleepy or hungry.

This is probably much more information than you requested, but as a first time mom, I did a ton of reading to try and figure out my baby. I highly recommend reading a few sleep books in order to get a primer on baby sleep. I recommend Ferber's book - "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems". Even if you don't agree with his sleep training methods, he does an excellent job of describing sleep patterns and explaining common sleep problems. "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Dr. Mark Weissbulth is also a great book. It's a little bit harder to read though. I also recommend "The 90 Minute Sleep Solution". It's a quick read but a good one.

Good luck with your baby! They are demanding little creatures, but so precious!


answered 16 Oct '09, 22:51

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edited 17 Oct '09, 00:28

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Tammy ♦♦

Our babies found themselves a suitable sleep schedule. We helped very slightly by progressively introducing some regularity with lunch time, dinner time, bath, naps, ...

But I think that 2.5 months is a bit early. Let him find full night sleeping first, then identify his feed and nap rythm in the day. Finally put him in bed at regular times that are close to his natual rythm.

Don't be too strict on the schedule. This is a baby, not a train.


answered 14 Oct '09, 14:19

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I love it: a baby, not a train. :)

(18 Oct '09, 04:26) Emily

My son is now 4 months old and is sleeping through the night. We started giving him cereal and it is a magic sleepy food for him!! Last night he woke up and cried for 10 minutes then fell back asleep. I knew he wasn't hungry so I just let him cry it out.

My older son was 8 months before he was sleeping through the night.

I just kinda went with what they did. If they woke up and cried for more than 10 minutes I knew they weren't going back to sleep.


answered 14 Oct '09, 15:04

Mommy%20trial%20and%20error's gravatar image

Mommy trial and error
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My daughter would run full steam until we put her to bed in a quiet room by herself, but from the time she stopped eating every few hours she would sleep once we put her to bed, but it ended up being 10 at night because she also napped twice during the day.

Once she started daycare, she was getting tired at 8 and we moved to bedtime to then. So long as we were consistent and firm (meaning we didn't go get her if she cried for less than 15 minutes) she adapted quickly to her bed times.

We didn't force her in either situation, we simply let her show signs of getting tired.


answered 15 Oct '09, 03:59

MrChrister's gravatar image

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I would not think about "enforcing" anything, just give your kid structure, see my post here: http://moms4mom.com/questions/598/bedtime-routines/645#645

My kid has the same sleeping pattern, everyday, for the mid-day-nap and evenings going to bed. We try our best that he goes to bed on about the same times, every day. Important is not the same time, but doing the same things. He will sleep, until he wakes up, most of the time that would be 6:00 AM :-(

The words "enforcing" and "fixed" do not fit well with sleeping. Using the same pattern does not mean that it is the same time every day.


answered 15 Oct '09, 12:38

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Huibert Gill
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I started to do a bedtime routine with each of our girls very early (around 4 weeks old) and they both started sleeping through the night very early on. My first daughter started at 7.5 weeks and our newest baby is now 12 weeks old and is fairly consistent... she goes to bed around 8:30pm and will usually sleep until 7:30am. Every so often she'll wake to eat in the night. We have never forced anything on either of them. They eat when they are hungry, as much as they want and they sleep when they want during the day. What I have found to work best is to follow the baby's lead while making the bedtime routine consistent and predictable. At first our baby would stay up until 9 or 9:30pm but she started wanting to go to bed earlier so we started doing her bath/ bedtime feeding earlier. But she also wants to eat about every two hours during the day.


answered 15 Oct '09, 21:53

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Young babies wake for feeds during the night for their nutritional requirements, but at 3-4 months they are generally physiologically ready to skip their night time feasts. See this reference from a Children's Hospital:

From birth to the age of 2 months, most babies awaken twice each night for feedings. Between the ages of 2 and 3 months, most babies need one feeding in the middle of the night. By 4 months of age, most bottle-fed babies sleep more than 7 hours without feeding. Most breast-fed babies can sleep through the night by 5 months of age. Normal children of this age do not need calories during the night to stay healthy.

But all babies are different...

We are very lucky to have a 4 month old who sleeps 9.30pm-10.30am (sometimes 11.30am) and has done for quite some time now. During the week, when my partner's alarm goes off at 7am, she sometimes stirs for a dream feed and goes straight back to sleep after. On the weekends she sleeps all the way through.

For us, we found that defining day time sleeps from night time sleeps with cues was paramount. Some tips that we used and found success in:

  1. As much as possible,try to stick to putting your baby down at the same time every night
  2. Have the same routine before bedtime - for us, it's bath, play, feed, sleep
  3. We sleep Lily in baby sleeping bags only for her night time sleep so she recognises her bags are for her big sleep
  4. Keep the room quiet and dark when we are putting your babe down for the night
  5. "stock up" during the day - give your baby lots of FULL feeds during the day (Lily is BF 3 hourly during the day now but 4 hourly before she slept through) and try to avoid "snacks" or your baby will depend on the night feeds more
  6. When your baby stirs during the night, try to put off picking them up and feeding them for as long as possible (within limits, of course). I found that when Lily stirred I would often go on auto-pilot and just feed her. When I tried letting her go for awhile, she'd often just resettle herself and go back to her slumber.

As for the daytime sleeps, that's another story with Lily! 90 mins after she wakes for the day she'll always have a nap that can be anything from 20-90mins. Her mid-late afternoon and early evening naps are a bit sporadic - sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn't and at varying lengths. I don't have any real set structure during the day... I go by her watch and look for her sleepy signs try and settle her for a nap as soon as I pick them up (wriggling, arching, eye-rubbing, glazed eyes, less engagement).

Babies develop their own routine in time - good luck!!


answered 21 Oct '09, 00:09

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edited 25 Oct '09, 03:10

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Scott ♦♦

I started from day one. She is now one.She gets up at 6:30am Mon-Fri nap is a 12:00-12:30. She gets up at 3-3:30. Goes to bed at 8PM. Weekends she wakes up at 8am (sometimes 9!) Naps around 12-2PM. Goes to bed around 8:30-9PM.


answered 24 Oct '09, 01:30

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Asked: 14 Oct '09, 13:37

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Last updated: 25 Oct '09, 03:10