One of the life-changing milestones as a new parent is when your baby finally gets on a sleeping and feeding schedule, meaning you as a parent can finally get some (short-lived) consistency back in your life. However, it can be tricky to figure out what your child’s schedule should be.
Sleeping and feeding times frequently change as your little one gets older. Plus, many of the sample schedules available online may not account for your child’s earlier- or later-than-average wake times and your family’s particular lifestyle (say, your late dinners and or bedtimes).
The good news, however, is that creating schedules customized to your child is getting easier. Today’s hint is a new free schedule generator from The Baby Sleep Site that can help you do just this. The Baby Sleep Site, which offers a range of sleep tips, sleep consultation services and special members-only content, is giving away a one-year membership (an $85 value) to one lucky Hint Mama reader – details below.
The Baby Sleep Site has long offered free sample schedules by age on its site. However, with one such schedule for each monthly age from newborn to toddler, these samples are fixed and don’t account for kids that may not wake up at the time a particular age’s daily schedule starts at. The sample schedules “are not meant to provide a customized solution,” says Nicole Johnson, founder of The Baby Sleep Site. “They’re meant to act more as templates.”
In contrast, with the new free schedule generator, The Baby and Toddler Schedule Maker, which is available on The Baby Sleep Site and via the site’s new app, you can get a customized sleep schedule for your child. You simply enter your child’s age and usual wake time, and then voilà, the new tool details when naps and bedtime should occur for children aged 4 to 36 months old.
Unlike the sample schedules, the new tool accounts for early wake up times of 5:30 a.m, (“Plenty of parents have to get their babies up at that time, in order to drop baby off at daycare on time and make the morning commute to work,” Ms. Johnson says) as well as later wake-up times common in Europe (“Many of our European clients have indicated to us that late bedtimes, and subsequent late morning wake-up times, are the norm in their countries,” says Ms. Johnson.
The free online and app tool, however, doesn’t include feeding times. Members of the site can use a separate members-only customized schedule generator that includes feeding times and more wake-up entry options.
Or, to add feeding times, non-members can combine their free customized sleep schedule with the information on feeding found in the free generic sample schedules.
And to create this expanded free schedule, here are some additional tips from The Baby Sleep Site:
- Aim for restorative naps. Parents should keep in mind that naps past the newborn stage should be at least 45 minutes to an hour in length, assuming kids aren’t transitioning toward dropping a nap (during such transition periods, the nap that’s being dropped may be shorter)
- Babies started on solid foods can have more regular meal times. When your child is about 6 or 7 months of age, you can begin to carve out more regular meal times that are based less on your child’s nap schedule and more on the clock. However, it’s still advisable, even as your baby grows, to feed close to the next nap time so your baby goes to sleep full and won’t wake up early because of hunger.
What are your tips for figuring out the best schedule for babies and toddlers? What do you think of The Baby Sleep Site’s new tool? Share your thoughts, and enter to win a one-year membership to The Baby Sleep Site, below.