EXPERT Q&A

What’s the best sleeping and eating schedule for my baby?

Eating and sleeping schedules are extremely important for your baby’s development. Learn more about age-appropriate sleep schedules for your baby’s first year of life from CareNectar expert Mirella Alexis!

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Question

What’s the best schedule for my new baby? Should I expect the schedule to change over the next year?

Answer

This is such an important question! Schedules and routines for babies are crucial to their optimal development, supporting nutritional and physical health as well as consistency and positive behavior. Schedules can be developed as early as 2 to 3 months, and they benefit both parents and babies because they offer safety and stability during an otherwise hectic time. As your baby grows, routines and schedules also help them handle transitions and anticipate what’s next in the day.

Schedules will vary by age of your baby. Information and sample schedules are detailed below.

Babies ages 0 to 3 months

Sleeping: Your newborn will sleep the majority of the day—both during the day and at night. They should get a total of 15 to 17 hours of sleep per day (8 to 9 hours at night and 6 to 8 during the day).

Eating: Newborns will eat every 1 to 2 hours, give or take.

Babies ages 4 to 6 months

Sleeping: Babies ages 4 to 6 months should receive 14 to 15 hours of sleep per day, which includes 9 to 10 hours of nighttime sleep and 4 to 5 hours of daytime sleep.  

Eating: Babies this age will eat several times throughout the day between naps. It’s also recommended that babies are dream-fed during the night, between 10 p.m. and midnight. Dream feeding involves gently holding the baby and placing the breast or bottle to the baby’s lips without fully waking them. This keeps babies from waking in hunger during the night.

Example Schedule:
6:30 a.m.: Wake up, feed
8:00 a.m.: Nap #1 (1.5 to 3 hours) then feed
12:30 p.m.: Nap #2 (1.5 to 3 hours) then feed
4:30 p.m.: Nap #3 (1 to 1.5 hours) then feed
6:30 p.m.: Bedtime
10:00 p.m.: Dream feed

Babies age 6 to 9 months

Sleeping: Babies ages 6 to 9 months should sleep 14 hours each day, with 10 to 11 hours of nighttime sleep and 3 to 4 hours of daytime sleep.

Eating: Babies should be fed in the morning and between naptime. During the night, they should also dream feed.

Example Schedule:
7:30 a.m.: Wake up, feed
9:00 a.m.: Nap #1, feed
12:30 p.m.: Nap #2, feed
4:30 p.m.: Nap #3, feed
7:30 p.m.: Bedtime
10:00 p.m.: Dream feed

Babies ages 9 to 12 months

Sleeping: Babies who are 9 to 12 months should get 14 hours of sleep per day, the majority of which are nighttime sleep. This is 11 hours of nighttime sleep and 3 hours of daytime sleep.

Eating: Babies between 9 and 12 months should eat several times throughout the day in addition to bottle or breastfeeding.

Example Schedule:
7:00 a.m.: Wake up
7:30 a.m.: Breakfast
9:30 a.m.: Morning Nap
12:00 p.m.: Lunch
3:00 pm.: Afternoon nap
5:30 p.m.: Dinner
7:30 p.m. Bedtime

For additional resources on the value of supporting routines for young children, visit Zero to Three.

Meet The Expert


Mirella Alexis

Mirella has been a family and childcare advocate for nearly two decades. With her bachelor’s degree in early childcare education, Mirella immediately started expanding her portfolio as a professional nanny, early childhood educator, and newborn care specialist. She later obtained her certification in child nutrition, positive discipline, and child abuse prevention. She expanded her professional reach more in 2016 by taking on the role of labor and postpartum doula. In 2020, Mirella became the Vice President of The Nanny Sitter Fund. She’s excited to be bringing her passion for childcare to the masses, making child welfare everyone’s responsibility. Learn more about her at MirellaAlexis.com