You've made it through the first two weeks of infant sleep, so now what?

It's time to look at a sample baby sleep schedule for weeks 3-6, especially because this is the time you'll find one of the first developmental triggers signaling it's time to merge your baby's sleep schedule.

Did you know there are developmental “triggers” signaling it is time to merge two cycles into one?

For the PDF baby, most triggers are predictable and fall into a chronological range of time. Since there are seven major transitional merges over the course of the first year, there are seven major triggers parents should look for. This is the first:

(Merge One) Between Weeks Three and Six

Most babies start out with two feedings during the middle of the night. For example, let’s say 2:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. Sometime between weeks three and six, (most between weeks three and four), PDF Babies begin to stretch their middle of the night sleep, from 3 hours to 3½ to 4 hours. Consequently, they begin to merge the 2:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. feedings into a single 3:00 a.m “middle of the night” feed.

Graphically Merge One looks like this:

This merge reduces nine feed-wake-sleep cycles in a 24-hour period, to eight cycles. At this point in time, most PDF babies sleep from 11:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. They nurse or take a bottle and then sleep until 6:30-7:00 a.m.

Sleeping 4-hour stretches at night becomes baby’s “new normal.” Congratulations, only six more merges to go! (Please note, this merge will be delayed in premature babies proportionate to the number of weeks’ gestation.)

Adjustment to Baby’s Routine after Merge 1

There are no major adjustments needed to the feed-wake-sleep routine during the day. Mom will notice waketimes are beginning to lengthen, but overall, there is no significant change to the feed-wake-sleep cycles. Most babies continue with a 2½ to 3-hour routine.

Sample Baby Sleep Schedule: Weeks 3-6

1. Early Morning - 7:00 a.m.

  1. Feeding, diaper change and hygiene care
  2. Waketime: minimal
  3. Down for a nap

2. Mid-morning - _________ a.m.

  1. Feeding, diaper change and hygiene
  2. Waketime: minimal
  3. Down for a nap

3. Afternoon - _________ p.m.

  1. Feeding, diaper change and hygiene care
  2. Waketime: minimal
  3. Down for a nap

4. Mid-afternoon - ________ p.m.

  1. Feeding, diaper change and hygiene care
  2. Waketime: minimal
  3. Down for a nap

5. Late Afternoon - ________ p.m.

  1. Feeding, diaper change and hygiene care
  2. Waketime: minimal
  3. Down for a nap

6. Early Evening - ________ p.m.

  1. Feeding, diaper change and hygiene care
  2. Waketime: minimal
  3. Down for a nap

7. Late Evening - ________ p.m.

  1. Feeding and diaper change, baby back to bed.
    Allow baby to wake up naturally, but do not let him sleep longer than 4 hours continuously at night for the first four weeks.

8. Middle of the Night - ________ a.m.

  1. Feeding, diaper change and right back to crib
    (Usually between 1:00 and 3:00 a.m.)

    As you can see, you will need to insert your specific times into the schedule based off of when the second cycle begins, as well as your baby's individual needs. While following a schedule is new for all of you, learn to look for cues from your baby to help guide you with each merge.

    Do you have a question about baby nap schedules or when to merge? Leave a comment below or check out these nap time articles:

    For more help getting your Baby on a Babywise sleep schedule, you can read more articles on Baby Sleep here on Babywise.life.

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    Excerpted with permission from On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo, M.A. and Robert Bucknam, M.D., copyright Parent-Wise Solutions, Inc. You can learn more and purchase the book here.


    Sleep Schedules


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