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Learn Your Baby's Rhythms

Learn Your Baby's Rhythms

Each baby is an individual with a unique temperament and general likes and dislikes. By responding to and reinforcing your baby's natural habits, you can help establish and maintain a predictable daily schedule.

Sleeping patterns

At first, babies move in and out of sleep in unpredictable patterns. By age 3 months, most babies establish more of a routine and sleep for longer periods, perhaps through the night. They are also more alert when awake and you can gradually add time between feedings.

At about 3 to 4 months, start bedtime rituals to help your baby relax. Read a story, play quiet music, sing, rock your baby, or give him or her a gentle massage. Avoid loud music or sounds and bright lights.

Sleep patterns often change during the second half of the first year. To promote a regular schedule, maintain your routines when your baby resists going down for a nap or going to bed at the usual time.

Feeding schedules

Parents often wonder whether their baby is getting enough nourishment. The quality and quantity of a baby's feedings probably are sufficient if the baby is gaining weight steadily, is content most of the time, and is becoming increasingly alert and active.

By 2 months of age, most babies have established regular feeding schedules. Bottle-fed babies tend to eat about every 3 to 4 hours, and breast-fed babies nurse more frequently. Many babies begin eating less frequently at night.

At 3 to 4 months, when babies become interested in the world around them, feeding times may become frustrating for parents. Babies often interrupt feedings by looking around, smiling, cooing, and reaching for a parent's face. This is a normal attempt to turn feeding times into a more social event and an opportune time for parents to interact with their babies. It may help to feed your baby in a quiet and dimly lit room.

Babies do not need solid foods until they are at least 4 to 6 months old. Parents should wait until that point to introduce cereal. Adding cereal to a baby's bottle will not make him or her sleep through the night. Check with your health professional to see whether your baby is ready for solid food.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
Last Revised October 7, 2011

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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