Our little man is not even two yet, and amazingly enough I am having to re-research information when fellow mommies ask me questions. There were many things that I tried to record on this blog – for future reference – but I only briefly mentioned the 2-3-4 Sleep Schedule in Elijah’s 6 month update. This topic definitely deserves to be recorded and remembered, and I know that some of my fellow mommies are around this stage at the moment, so I thought I would do a post on this sleep schedule since it was a lifesaver back when Eli was a wee baby. In fact, I wish I had found this schedule a little earlier than I did. Putting a name – and fixed schedule – to something, always helps with my sanity!
We started 2-3-4 when Elijah was in the 5th month (almost 6 months old) when he seemed to be handling the longer intervals of awake time. This schedule won’t work for a baby who still requires shorter awake periods of 2-3 hours. Elijah went through some sort of Wonder Week leap in this 4th month, and all of his naps and nighttime sleep times suddenly changed. By 5 months he was taking 2-3 naps during the day, depending on how long each naps was. Usually he would have one around 11am and then again at 2:30pm. If his afternoon nap was short, then he would take another nap around 5 or 6pm. If not, he stayed awake until 8pm. He was pretty regular in his sleeping patterns, and except for the odd stretch we had in the middle of the month, he normally slept right through the night. Looking back now, I know that he was making the transition from three naps to two at around 4-5 months. The problem was that before he settled into this 2-3-4 routine, I had no idea what was going on half the time. Was he going to take another nap, or wasn’t he? I needed structure… and as you know, babies THRIVE on routine. That was where the 2-3-4 Sleep Schedule solidified our days and made everything flow smoothly.
So if you’re somewhere around the 6 month stage and you feel like you can’t figure out the sleep thing, try this…
This 2-3-4 schedule will likely change your life. It’s not universal, by any means, but MOST babies WILL settle into a 2-3-4 schedule by about six months old. Some babies do it on their own naturally and some just need a bit of guidance.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Baby wakes in the morning at whatever time works for you.
Exactly 2 hours after waking she goes down for nap #1.
Baby wakes from nap and stays up for 3 hours.
Back in bed for nap #2 at the 3 hour mark.
Baby wakes from second nap and stays up for 4 hours.
Back in bed for the night at the 4 hour mark.
Thus the 2-3-4. It makes it super easy of you don’t have baby on a schedule but want to keep track of when he needs to sleep. A BIG MISTAKE that I had been making was waiting 3 hours after morning wake up to put Elijah down for the first nap, which led to him being extremely over-tired and unable to sleep for longer that 45 minutes (oh the dreaded overtired 45 minute naps!!!). I guess I just thought that 2 hours was too soon, but when I came across the 2-3-4 schedule, I was thrilled to discover that 2 hours was the perfect amount of time. It really worked like a charm.
Use those sleep times as the overarching grid of your day, fill in everything else that you need to do in-between THAT schedule. Trying to keep baby on your schedule will likely lead to a cranky, over-tired little one. At about 5-6 months, we did a big feeding right after he woke up and likely a smaller “snack” before they go down for morning nap. He would “eat” again when he woke up, and another small feeding before the afternoon nap (nap #2). The stretch between the second nap and bedtime should contain at least another two feedings. Bedtime should include a set, consistent routine. (Bath, book, boob/bottle, bed.) On this schedule, I used to put him down for his naps and bedtime while he was still awake (but NOT overtired and restless), and…he just went to sleep. Sure there was crying in the beginning, but within a week there was no fussing at all.
I KNOW some people snicker at the fact that we were blessed with “an incredibly good sleeper” but let me tell you, there were battles, and there were tears (both mommy and Elijah). There were tons of days where I would call Justin, at work, and tell him that I was losing my mind. I really do believe that getting Elijah on a DAYTIME schedule had a huuuuuuge impact on his nighttime schedule. It is safe to say that from the moment you hear that first morning squawk from the crib, you can do the nap-math for the rest of the day.
It is better to ANTICIPATE their need for a nap instead of RESPONDING to it!
No matter what – Remember, you’re a great mama!