The first 8 weeks with your baby have likely been a blur. You can chalk it up to overwhelming love for your new little one, sleepless nights, and a range of emotions due to postpartum hormonal changes. As your baby rounds the corner on their 2-month birthday, you're feeling ready to get life on a schedule, and developmentally your baby is ready, too. We know the feeling, which is why we're outlining what you need to know about making a schedule for your 2-month old.
After reading this article you'll have a good idea of what to expect for your 2-month-old in terms of sleep needs, how that fits into a typical 2-month-old schedule, and tips for making it happen.
Wondering if a schedule is right for YOUR two-month-old? Let's start there.
Should you put your 2-month-old on a schedule?
Many parents wonder when it's time to put their baby on a schedule, or if they even should at all.
One of the great things about being a parent is that you get to decide what works best for you and your family. There is definitely no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting. Healthy, thriving and happy children can be raised in lots of different ways.
To bring you the best advice for helping schedule sleep for your 2-month-old, we’ve consulted with marriage and family therapist Marietta Paxson, from littledreamers.us. She specializes in sleep for babies so we are excited to have her collaboration!
So if you prefer to follow your baby's lead and skip any type of scheduling, that is completely up to you! With that said, creating a schedule for your baby when you think they are ready can allow your family to feel a sense of day-to-day normalcy that helps keep everyone on track.
We don't recommend creating a specific schedule for your newborn baby as we outline in our article "How much does a newborn sleep?", but around 2 months of age (give or take) your baby will be developmentally ready to have more of a routine.
“One of the reasons two months is a good age to begin to think about your baby's schedule is because most babies have figured out their days and nights.”
If at 2 months, you don't feel like you or your baby are quite ready to take on a schedule, then don't push it. Wait a few weeks and then re-assess when they are closer to 3 months old.
Now as we start talking about what a typical schedule could look like for your 2-month-old baby, remember to keep the word "flexible" in mind.
Paxson recommends that you may even want to replace the word “schedule” with routine to keep that flexibility in mind. She writes, “At 2 months of age your baby can get into a great routine that can become fairly predictable.”
2-Month-Old Flexible Schedule
Though babies are very capable of getting into the groove of a routine (and usually do quite well on one), they are not robots. They have their own unique personalities and their needs can change quickly as they grow. So, it's important to have a schedule that allows for flexibility. Trying to put your little one on a rigid schedule without any fluidity will only leave you stressed and your baby overwhelmed.
Below we've outlined a possible 2-month schedule. The wake-up time sets the stage for the rest of the schedule, so be prepared to adjust this to when you and your baby typically start your day. And Paxson wants us to remember that the morning wake-up time may change from day-to-day.
“If your baby is waking in the morning all over the place or your would prefer to start the day at a specific time you can definitely begin waking your baby at a set time every day to help regulate sleep.”
A Typical Schedule for a 2-month-old
6:30 a.m. - Your baby wakes for the day/First feed
7:30 a.m. - Nap 1 (1.5 - 2 hours)
9:30 a.m. - Feed then play
10:30 a.m. - Nap 2 (1.5 - 2 hours)
12:30 a.m. - Feed then play
1:30 p.m. - Nap 3 (1 - 2 hours)
3:30 p.m. - Feed then play
4:30 p.m. - Catnap (45 minutes - 1 hour)
5:30 p.m. - Feed then play
6:30 p.m. - Bedtime Routine including a Feed
10:00 p.m. - Dream Feed
Trying to get your baby to follow the above "perfect schedule" is not what we're aiming for here. Instead, take into consideration typical needs in terms of a 2-month-old's sleep (outlined below) and then tweak it to what your unique baby needs.
What to Know When Creating a 2-month-old's Sleep Schedule
As you begin to create your baby's first "real" schedule, here are some key points to keep in mind in terms of what works best and what a 2-month-old requires.
Follow a Sleep, Eat, Wake Pattern
The sleep-eat-wake pattern is you want to aim for in your baby's day. Let's talk why.
Up until now, your baby's patterns were probably harder to nail down. On top of that, it's natural for newborns to get sleepy very quickly often resulting in a baby who falls right to sleep at the end of a feeding session.
Two months is a great age for your baby to start practicing falling asleep on her own so that you don't always feel like you have to nurse or give her a bottle for sleep to happen.
If it doesn't happen right away, don't worry! Just work to keep your baby awake for playtime after a feed. Feeding your baby immediately after they wake will naturally move them into this cycle.
According to Paxson,
“The first nap in the morning is usually the easiest nap to get your baby to fall asleep without nursing. This is because the baby is usually the most well-rested in the morning and can gently fall asleep with the least help. It tends to get more difficult as the day goes on. Remember, anytime your baby is able to fall asleep without nursing is a success and it’s okay if it doesn’t happen every time.”
About Naps for 2-Month-Olds
Parents Magazine writes that 6-7 hours of sleep during the day (naps) is ideal at 2 months old. If they're not perfect 1.5-2 hour naps, that's completely ok. Chances are you'll notice a preference from your baby on the time of day they'll take shorter naps and when they'll take the longer ones. Though 2-hour naps would be lovely, Paxson also wants parents to know that naps ranging from 30-90 minutes are completely normal for infants, too.
You’ll start to aim for 3 full naps per day and one shorter catnap in the evening, though a fifth (or even sixth) nap may be necessary if your baby always takes shorter naps.
You'll see that we've included a "catnap." This nap is generally a shorter, yet necessary, part of a 2-month-old's sleep schedule. Though *some* babies may be able to skip this last nap of the day and just go for an earlier bedtime, for others, the time between the last nap of the day and bedtime just gets to be too long.
This overtiredness can be a major culprit in creating a fussy baby in the evening - a time often referred to as the "witching hour."
We recommend including this short 30 minute - 1-hour nap for as long as your baby needs it. will be more developmentally ready to eliminate it. Paxson writes, “As babies get closer to 4 months, naps tend to decrease to 60-90 minutes and sometimes that can mean up to 2 catnaps (naps less than an hour) in order to get to bedtime. Every newborn is so different!”
Wake Windows at 2 Months
According to Taking Cara Babies, a baby under 12 weeks of age usually can't stay awake longer than 90 minutes without getting overtired, and you may notice for your baby that it's closer to an hour.
In the schedule above, it aims to have babies awake from 1 hour - 90 minutes.
We recommend keeping a close eye on your little one to watch for his sleepiness cues. You may find that your baby is content for closer to 90 minutes in the morning whereas they may tire more quickly as the day goes on.
Here is Paxson’s suggestion:
“I recommend wake times at 2 months to land around 60 minutes. Some waketimes may only be 45 minutes and others 75 minutes. Watch for sleepy cues like a glazed expression (or staring into space), red eyes or eyebrows, slower movements or less coos. Your baby may have been awake too long if you start to notice baby getting fussy and acting hungry even though you fed when the baby woke up.”
The Dream Feed
The dream feed usually worked wonders with my babies to help them sleep longer stretches at night. We go in-depth about how to structure these late-night feeds in this article, but here's the gist:
The Dream Feed takes place late at night long after your baby has gone to bed, but before you go to sleep for the night. Around 10 o'clock is a great time to do it (that is if you can stay awake that long!) You don't want to fully wake your baby to feed them at this time, but they need to be awake enough to eat. Once you've given them a full feed, you put them right back down to sleep. This tops them off for the night so that you can a really good stretch of sleep before they wake again.
Night Sleep/Feeding Needs
The above schedule refers to what will take place during the day. This does NOT mean that your baby will sleep through the night. In fact, in our article, "When do babies sleep through the night without feeding?" we reference research that shows that *most* babies won't fully sleep through the night until they are 9 months old and up.
At 2 months old, plan to feed your baby between 6 - 10 times in a 24-hour period. Babies who drink breast milk usually need more feeds per day than babies who are formula-fed.
If your baby is well-rested and getting good feeds during the day you can expect about 2 feeds at night. Your dreamfeed counts as one of those feedings which means you could only need to get up once at night. Remember that because babies are not robots you may see 3 feeds here and there and that is appropriate as well.
Example: Feed at 10 and 2 and baby wakes up at 6am or feed at 11 and 3 and baby wakes at 7 or feed at 12 or 4 and baby wakes at 7.
With each of those considerations in mind, let’s talk about our best tips to start moving your baby into their new routine/schedule.
Tips to Help Your Baby Fall Into a Regular Sleep Schedule
Something you likely haven't had those first couple of months of your baby's life are longer naps that you can count on. You know...the ones where you can actually get anything done?! Or even take a nap for yourself longer than 2 minutes??
With your baby's sleep schedule, you're trying to help them learn to take longer naps which will in turn help stretch their period of sleep at night, too. (Though you don't want your baby to sleep longer than 2 hours at a time during the day or that could cause them to party all night.)Here are some tips to help your baby stretch those naps and fall into more of a schedule:
Get your baby up about the same time each morning. This will help regulate your baby's brain and body to begin to get on a schedule. Don't expect perfection early on and be flexible in adjusting your baby's day as needed. But this is the goal you're working towards. A baby on a good morning wake up routine will wake within about a 30-minute window each day
Aim for full feeds: Feeding is a big part of your 2-month-old's schedule in order to get them to fall into more visible sleep patterns. This is because in order to get longer naps and good stretches of sleep at night, you need to be focusing on getting your baby's tummy nice and full at each feeding. This means spacing feeds out to about every 2-3 hours if breastfeeding and 3 hours if bottle feeding. And remember cluster feeding in the evening is normal!
Be mindful of sleepiness cues:Once your baby shows signs of being tired you want to start getting them ready to take their nap. Overtired babies have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep.
Lay your baby down drowsy, but awake:This is the best way to teach your baby to become an independent sleeper. You can see our gentle methods that we recommend in our article, “A Helpful Guide for Sleep Training Your Baby,” and Marietta Paxson offers a video course that highlights how to help babies fall asleep in their cribs for newborns (find at littledreamers.us).
- Follow the same routine every time you lay your baby down for a nap: Things like swaddling your baby in a Dreamland Baby Weighted Swaddle, using white noise, and laying them down in a dark and quiet room signal to your baby that it's time to sleep.
Use our suggested nightly crib routine: Read our article, "How to Get Your Baby to Sleep in a Crib," to find out how you can start getting your little one transitioned to their own room for nighttime sleep if you haven't already. If you feel like it's too early, you can still use our suggestions to prepare your little one for nighttime sleep.
- Put your baby to bed about the same time each night. Unlike you, your baby's circadian rhythms aren't yet established. Sticking to regular bedtimes will help them to learn that nighttime is meant for sleeping (even though they'd much prefer to snuggle with you.) It’s important to note that there really isn’t an “ideal” bedtime for a newborn, so Paxson reminds you to watch your baby and trust your instinct.
Looking Ahead as Your 2-Month-Old Baby Grows
The weeks fly by and soon your baby will be 3 months old! It's amazing how much your baby's needs can change from month-to-month at this age, so be sure to check out our article “Sleep Schedule and Routine for Your 3-Month-Old” to see what's coming up next.
Marietta Paxson is a marriage and family therapist who specializes in sleep from 0-4 years. She is a mom of four, including twins, who have experienced almost every possible sleep concern or regression out there. She knows what it's like to not be sleeping and she also knows how good it feels to start sleeping better. She is committed to helping parents navigate sleep so that the whole family can enjoy their time together more.
Marietta M. Paxson, M.S., LMFT