Universally, the best time for a baby to sleep is when they are tired. If you choose to follow the advice to put your baby in a routine, you must first determine when your baby is tired and then plan accordingly.
Sometimes babies can be quite variable in their sleep patterns. The best way to find out what time suits your baby is to keep a diary for several days and see if there are any particular patterns.
If you have a particularly good sleeper, it may be that you just happen to have a routine that suits them, but don’t form an opinion that this will always work, because it won’t.
Your newborn will want to feed every 1 or 2 hours at first and wake every 1 or 2 hours at night until they settle into a pattern of 3-4 daytime feeds and 2 nighttime feeds (at around day 10-14).
The 3-4 daytime feeds will gradually drop to 1 feed between 4am and 7am (but don’t worry if your newborn is still feeding every few hours). It is important not to over feed the newborn as this can cause excessive weight gain which can cause problems later on.
Your baby will need approximately 5000 ml during the first month (around 5-6 feeds per day), which is around 50 ml per kg of body weight per day. This can gradually fall to 40 ml per kg of body weight after they reach 4 months old.
If your newborn is gaining too much weight (more than 25g each week) then they should have less milk at each feed, e.g 20 ml/kg body weight instead of 25 ml/kg body weight.
Babies who are gaining less than 15g each week should have an extra feed at night after 3 weeks old (around day 16) so long as there are no complications with breastfeeding such as tongue tie or mastitis which might have caused the slow weight gain.
The most common reason for slow weight gain is overeating so its important not to give in if your baby refuses more milk after 2 minutes at each feed during the early days!
If your baby is gaining too much weight, you should reduce the amount of milk per feed and make sure that they are burping (they should pop their head up in the air when burping) after each feed to help them digest their food.
When can my newborn sleep through the night?
Once your baby has settled into a pattern of 2 nighttime feeds and 3-4 daytime feeds, it’s time to start thinking about gradually getting them onto 3 nighttime feeds.
The first step is to settle into a pattern of 2 night feeds for 4 days, then a pattern of 3 night feeds for 2 days before finally settling into a pattern of 3 night feeds.
It is usually best not to try any earlier than this as there is always some risk that you could end up back at square one if you try too early without success.
Once your newborn has settled into 3 nighttime feeds (usually between day 10-14), it’s time to start thinking about getting them onto 4 daytime feeds.
The first step is to settle into a pattern of 3 daytime feeds for 4 days, then a pattern of 4 daytime feeds for 2 days before finally settling into a pattern of 4 daytime feeds.
Again it is usually best not to try any earlier than this as there is always some risk that you could end up back at square one if you try too early without success.