Before four months it can be really hard to get your baby on a reliable daytime schedule. It may feel like your baby is just napping all day long and possibly taking very short naps. Newborn babies sleep a lot but may not be able to consolidate long stretches of sleep just yet. In those early months, your baby may fall asleep anywhere and everywhere: at the breast, the bottle, a stroller, or even just in your arms. You may get advice on the internet (or even from our blog!) about how this is not fine. And past 4 months, that is true. But at this stage in your baby’s sleep development, they simply may not be able to self-soothe and you may need to be the one soothing them.
They might fall asleep after being awake for 1.5 hours but they might also fall asleep after being awake 30 minutes! This can be frustrating for parents who would like more of a scheduled day but at this stage, a little ‘go with the flow’ might be necessary. There can be a lot of unpredictability in those early weeks and months and you are certainly not doing anything ‘wrong’.
Instead of worrying about a schedule or forming healthy sleep habits, just focus on making sure your baby is getting enough food. Most babies at this age should be feeding every 2-3 hours or so, usually falling back to sleep toward the end of the feed.
One thing you should note is that your baby’s longest stretch without feeding should be at night. There’s no way to avoid having to get up multiple times at this age, as a baby’s stomach is not big enough to get them through the night without food. However, if your baby is able to go 3 hours without feeding during the day, there’s no reason you should be getting up every 2 hours each night! If they are unsettled before that time, you can try soothing them without feeding and try to gradually lengthen the stretches at night without a feed.
Around the 3-4 month mark, you can start thinking about feeding when your baby awakens rather than feeding them to sleep. But in the meantime, just enjoy your time with your baby and don’t worry so much about a sleep schedule.