Jack is 12 weeks old now. Technically no longer a newborn! (wwhaaa!). He was, however, born 2 weeks early which we take into account with newborns, so I have a few more weeks before he officially moves into the infant stage.
Around 12 weeks old, we see some changes occur.
1. The main change that hits around this time is that the number of day naps goes from 4 to 3.
2. Another change is that feeds increase in the day and decrease at night.
3. The last main change is that awake times (ability to stay awake and happy) slightly increase.
Now, as with all things, the timing of changes to a baby schedules differs from baby to baby.
What you generally see around 12 weeks old, or want to work towards:
The naps move to 3 a day due to the increase in awake time between naps, and due to introducing an earlier bedtime.
Larger blocks of sleep start happening in the night due to the baby’s ability to now produce his own melatonin (previously only obtained through breast milk or through day and night routines if bottle fed). Plus, all the work you have previously been doing in regards to setting up a good schedule i.e. a good bedtime routine and plenty of daylight and fresh air in the day, has also added to this change.
Larger blocks of sleep overnight mean less night feeds. Ideally only one. This naturally creates shorter naps (down to around 90min-2hrs in length) in the day to allow for more feeds in the day to compensate.
Pretty remarkable when you look at it isn’t it?
I am a big believer in following your baby’s lead. Now, whilst all this is partly a natural change. Sleep changes can always use a helping hand. As with anything, your baby needs some of your guidance. For example, work on increasing your baby’s awake times when suitable; and when the time is right, decide that the first night feed (and possibly the only night feed) will be after midnight – aim to do resettles only if a wake up occurs prior to this time. Plus, all along the way, be conscious not to introduce any sleep props (this one is important!).
Let’s look at Jack as a ‘case study’:
Jack made the change to 1 night feed around 2-3 weeks ago.
Which of course I have loved. So this is a tad earlier than expected, and of course I gently nudged him in that direction.
He does a 12 hour (ish) night.
So 12 hours after he goes down for the night he is generally awake ready to start the day. There is a feed in the middle of this and it sits anywhere after midnight (usually around 2-3am). This allows for a good block of consolidated sleep at the beginning of the night – an important time for growth and brain development.
He is still, however, on 4 naps a day as his awake time has yet to increase to 1 1/2 hour mark suggested for bubs that are 12 weeks old.
He sits on the 1 hour awake time in general, with 1 – 1 1/2 hours prior to bedtime.
This should change in the next few weeks. I will see that he can withstand longer awake times.
His day naps have reduced in length in the day.
No more 4+ hour naps. In general they are around the 90min – 2hr mark now. This is due to the two large blocks of sleep he does at night and the fact he only feeds once overnight. Basically, he needs to get more calories in the day now, which is why he is waking more often to allow for this. His feeds currently sit within a 2 1/2- 3 1/2 hour period. I suspect this will remain the case until he moves to 2 naps a day and solids are introduced (around the 6 months old mark).
He currently goes to bed around the 7-8pm ish mark.
All depends on the length of naps in the day. When his awake time increases, and he drops to 3 naps a day, bedtime will move closer to the 7pm mark consistently.
I don’t like to wake babies (unless absolutely necessary i.e. appointment).
My suggestion is to not look at things in terms of timings (for feeds particularly). Follow your babies lead. What do I mean? Stick to your eat play sleep schedule. Stick to your awake times. Things naturally fall into place. Naps will become predictable and you will know what your days are going to look like. Obviously, if there are feeding/weight issues, these need to be addressed accordingly.
If enough calories are provided in the day; there are no props when going to bed at night; and allowances are made to help with melatonin release prior to bedtime (i.e. low light, calm, good bedtime routine) babe should start sleeping in larger blocks overnight naturally and in turn, sleep less and feed more in the day.
If your baby is 12 weeks old and you haven’t seen any of these changes as yet. Don’t stress. Work towards helping with the changes.
Side note: I have also made the decision to scrap the dummy altogether. This was tough for a night or two at bedtime, but in general it went ok (thank goodness!) and I am glad I did it. My thoughts around this is that I really wanted it gone before the 4 month regression hit. As always, with anything to do with your children, it is a personal choice. I personally wanted to do the extinction of the dummy prior to 12 weeks old, rather than when Jack’s sleep cycles changed and more natural wake ups materialised, often meaning more reliance on the dummy. I love my sleep way too much!