I love to use technology to make life easier! Who doesn't?! Have you thought about using your smart phone timer to think LESS about your baby timing? Let me explain.
Your baby has a period of time that he can stay awake. I call that the wakeful window. A 2-5 month old baby likely has a 90 minute wakeful window. He wakes up, 90 minutes later he is ready for a nap. He sleeps for 30, 45, 60 or even more. Then 90 minutes later he is ready for another nap. His wakeful window is 90 minutes and constantly changing depending on how long he slept and how much older he grows. It may be as short as 60 minutes after a short cat nap or as long as 2 hours after a solid sleep. Around 6 months it's typically 2 hours between sleeps all day. Around 9 months it may be 3 hours during the day but 4 hours from the end of the 2nd nap to bedtime.
So back to our 2-5 month old scenario. You may be trying to figure out what your baby's wakeful window is so you can catch their ideal nap time--the sleep window. (I'm glad I don't have to clean all these windows.) By catching the sleep window, and putting him to bed before he gets overtired, you avoid the Cortisol rush that comes with missing the sleep window and messes with the overall sleep ability.
Here is my simple idea. Set the alarm or timer on your smart phone for 59-60 minutes when he wakes up. Don't worry about catching the sleep window until the timer buzzes in your pocket. Then keep snoozing the timer until you see his sleep cues. Once you see his sleep cues, put him to bed. So instead of watching all the time for the sleep cues, just do it for the 10-20 minutes after the first hour of wakefulness. Notice how cute he is instead for the first hour. One eye on your baby, one eye on the clock...but after and hour of fun.
But what about night sleep? Aim for 12 hours at night after 4 months. (Including wake ups.) If he wakes at 6am, aim for a bedtime of 6pm. Catching his sleep window for all his naps can make night sleep easier. Go ahead and use your crutches for naps. Motion sleep or nursing to sleep is better than no sleep. Sleep begets sleep. A good nap day makes for a better night's sleep. At 4 months things may be getting a little crazy so do what ever it takes to get the sleep. Soon, he will be old enough to learn serious sleep skills.
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Gentle Sleep Coach