When trying to stretch your baby from every 3 hours or less to every 3 hours or more (ideally every 4 hours) in order to improve your baby's nighttime and daytime sleep, scheduling your baby’s feeding times can be tricky.
Parents often ask about this and it’s top of mind for me right now becauseI am currently dealing with this with my own baby! In a nutshell, prioritize sleep schedules over feeding schedules.
That may mean that you need to feed your baby right before she goes down for a nap. In that case, it’s recommended to move it a few minutes earlier to (hopefully) prevent your baby from falling asleep while eating.
Continue to move the feeds a few minutes further apart each day until you have arrived at your ideal schedule. Once you are there, you can more carefully schedule your baby’s feeding times around her naps.
The most common feeding schedule is 7-11-3-7ish but it doesn’t need to be exact. In the case of this schedule, I would actually recommend that your baby’s final feeding be at 6:30 so that she is in the crib at 7 pm. She’ll then wake up a few minutes before 7, most likely, in order to be ready to eat at about 7.
I generally recommend that babies start their days between 6 and 7 am, but if your family’s schedule would do better with a slightly different schedule for your baby, that’s fine as long as it’s not too different. For example, I would never recommend a 10 am to 10 pm schedule, because that is too different than when daylight and darkness happen (unless you live close to the Arctic Circle, in which case all bets are off).
But for my family, it works best if the baby wakes up at 5:30 am and eats then so that I can work out immediately afterwards, before I am occupied with the other children. This seems to work fine for her for the time being but I may have to adjust it as she grows older. Time will tell.
As they say, the only constant with babies is change!
If you can’t quite believe that your baby could sleep through the night and be on a more predictable daytime schedule… there’s hope for you! Schedule a free consult and let me show you how we can make it happen. Results are guaranteed or your money back.
Abby Wolfson is a pediatric nurse practitioner, certified child sleep consultant and certified life coach for parents. She divides her time between Brooklyn, NY and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.