The Best Newborn & Baby Nap Routines

Meet Karah, T+C’s Recruiting Counselor on the SF Nanny Team, and doula extraordinaire. Karah grew up in Mountain View, California. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from San Francisco State University. Karah joined the Town + Country team in 2021. She also has several years of Nanny and Postpartum Doula experience and enjoys connecting Nannies and Newborn Care Specialists to families.

Today, she’ll be answering one of the top new parent questions out there: What does an ideal infant sleep schedule look like or what should my infant’s sleep routine look like in the first week? 

According to Karah, the key is timing and consistency!

During the first six weeks of life, babies are not developmentally ready to be on a routine and often wake, sleep and eat at all different hours of the day and night which is completely normal and healthy.

Once babies are closer to two months old, you can start to implement what is known as the Eat-Play-Sleep Routine. This threefold model helps little ones develop a routine so that their nap schedules can become more predictable.

Eat– Immediately after baby wakes up, they will usually be very hungry and will want to eat right away. Once baby is done nursing or being fed their bottle, make sure baby is in an upright position for roughly ten minutes to make sure they have time to digest as this will lessen the instance of spit up in the next phase of this routine, Play.

Play– Tummy time is a great way for infants to expend physical energy which in turn leads to better sleep and helps build stronger motor skills. You can dangle toys over them while they are on their back or place toys in front of them or mirrors if they are on their tummies, sing to them, read books etc. until baby starts to give you sleep cues. This could look like rubbing eyes, yawning, or becoming generally fussy. The period of time baby should be awake will vary depending on their age. Between the ages of six weeks to three months of age should range between one hour – one hour and 45 minutes. As baby grows, their period wake time will increase. Babies will typically have three naps a day until they are nine months to one year old. Once baby shows those sleep cues, it’s time to go down for a nap, to Sleep.

Sleep– Put baby down to nap using the same techniques each time to build sleep associations. This could look like closing all the blinds in the room, turning on the sound machine with the same sound each time, sitting in the same rocking chair, use verbal cues like “it’s time for sleep” “I’m going to get you ready for a nap now”. Naps should be between one to two hours in length. If a nap goes on longer than two and half hours, baby could have a rough time sleeping at night, so gently wake baby if the nap is going on too long.

Once baby is awake, it’s time to start the whole routine over again – Eat, Play, Sleep.

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