Three activities comprise the core structure of your baby’s daily routine: feeding, playing and sleeping. Try to do them in the same sequence at the same time each day. It is ok to make changes based on your baby's tired signs. The average awake window for a 3 - 6 month old is between 1 and 2.5 hours. Each awake window includes the time taken to feed your baby and playtime. The most important part of establishing awake windows and routines is to be led by your baby's cues and tired signs. Some days will go smoothly, but life happens, and disruptions like illness and busy days may impact your baby’s daily routine and awake windows, and that is ok. When you feel back on track, move back to your regular routine as soon as possible.
As your baby matures, wake times during the day increase, and night sleeps lengthen. Some babies will have 2 -3 longer sleeps per day, while others only need short sleeps.
Every baby is different, and as you get to know your baby, you will begin to understand their tired signs. Tired signs can include:
- Dull eyes and heavy lids
- Quiet or less alert
- Sucking or putting hands to mouth
- Fussy or restless
- Rubbing eyes, face, and ears
When considering if your baby is ready for sleep, consider how long ago their last feed and sleep was. If your baby is happy and interactive during wake times, they have likely had enough sleep.
As your baby gets older, they may still wake overnight but may not always need a feed; they might need you to help them learn how to join sleep cycles without a feed straight away or be practising a new skill they have learnt (like how to socialise or rollover) or need connection time with you.
Night waking is still normal at this age, and babies are not expected to sleep through the night for long periods until after 6 months. All babies develop differently, and most babies will still wake for a feed over night until 12 months.
By now, feeding is usually well established, and your baby is likely to be feeding every 3 to 5 hours, including at least 1-2 milk feeds overnight.
There are many ways to build a relationship with your baby during awake windows, and playtime is an excellent one. Here are some ideas:
- supervised tummy time (floor play)
- rattles and soft toys to encourage interaction
- reading stories to your baby using soft books
- take your baby for a walk in the pram
- play hand games such as ‘ring a rosy’
- sing songs or play music
Your baby will communicate with your non-verbally during playtime. To tell you your baby is ready to play, they might:
- Lift their head and face to you
- Gaze straight into your eyes
- Reach to you with their arm
- Look alert
Your baby might need a break from playtime when they:
- Look away
- Pull their ears or rub their head
- Arch their back
- Flap arms
- Fuss or cry