Sleep is one of the most critical basic needs, beginning at birth and continuing throughout our lifetime. You can help your baby's brain develop by helping her get the sleep she needs and learn good sleep habits. This means a consistent sleep schedule that includes several naps and a really good night's sleep.


As your baby gets older, she will start to stay awake for longer periods of time and will start to have consistent times for napping. Around three months, babies start to develop a consistent morning nap that lasts 1-4 hours. Around four to five months, babies start to develop early afternoon and late afternoon naps. Believe or not, a baby with a healthy sleep routine will take three, 1-3 hour naps, and sleep 12-14 hours at night. Baby has now moved from 1-2 hours of wakefulness to 2-3 hours of wakefulness with consistent naptimes and bedtime.


Healthy sleep promotes healthy sleep...which promotes healthy brain development, happy babies, a happy child, and well adjusted person. 


Readings and Resources:

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Dr. Marc Weissbluth, M.D.


Brain Science for Your Baby


Your baby's brain is not resting during sleep; in fact, sleep is a critical time for brain development. When or what time your baby sleeps can be as important as how much sleep your baby gets. Naps in the morning provide different sleep than naps in the afternoon so they are both important. Morning naps include more active REM sleep and are often longer in length. 


A hormone in our bodies called cortisol increases during stress. When your baby sleeps, cortisol levels fall down, meaning her body is less stressed and more relaxed. When studied, babies four to eight months old that did not nap or had short naps demonstrated short attention spans and less persistence in completing tasks compared to those babies that napped well. Protecting your baby's sleep schedule and quality is critical for her development at all ages and stages in her life.

A Baby Buffer Prescription for Your Baby

Develop a healthy sleep schedule for your baby:


Establish nap schedules. Baby should be awake for 2-3 hours at a time. Watch for baby's cues she is sleepy and the clock. Plan naps so that you are putting her to sleep when she is "sleepy" but not over tired and be consistent.


Sleep experts, including Dr. Marc Weissbluth, suggest these five elements of healthy sleep:


Sleep duration: Total amount of sleep baby gets during the day and night.

Naps: Consistent times and at least one hour or longer.

Sleep consolidation: Sleeping for long periods of time, including long naps and large time periods during night.

Sleep schedule: Consistent sleep schedule based on your baby's sleepiness cues and the clock.

Sleep regularity: Making sure your baby gets enough sleep every day with consistent naps and bedtime.

A baby Buffer Prescription for You        


Develop a healthy sleep schedule for you! Protect YOUR sleep schedule just like you protect your baby's sleep schedule. 


Most adults require between 7-10 hours of sleep each night.


Power naps (15-30 minute naps) can help re-energize you.


Keep bedtimes and wake-up times consistent.


Make getting enough sleep a regular priority.


Feel good about your baby's sleep schedule. Remember, you are helping your baby's brain develop and keeping your baby healthy by making sure she gets the sleep she needs. 


Feel good about the choices you make for your baby and do not worry about what friends or family think about your child's "early" bedtime. 

What Your Baby Can Do - Developmental Milestones 


Your baby is changing quickly during this period. Know what to look for to make sure your baby is growing and changing in a healthy way.  Click on the links below for information from the CDC on what your baby can do now.  

Gene's Research Tip!

It's important to understand your baby's emotions. Emotions and stress go together! When we feel fearful or anxious our bodies make a chemical called Cortisol, or the stress hormone.  Cortisol works quickly to give us extra energy and make us more alert. If Cortisol is activated a lot it wears the body down and can cause us to get over weight, not sleep well and get diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease and even contribute to arthritis and diabetes. Read More

Baby Buffer Blog

Written by, Kathy Ellerbeck, MD, FAAP 


When one of my friends told me "she slept like a baby" I asked what was wrong with her!   When my babies were babies - they didn't sleep much! We have funny family stories now - but back then getting our two girls to sleep was exhausting!


When babies are eight or nine months old, they often have separation anxiety.  And going to bed meant SEPARATION to my Samantha.   In the beginning we would stay with her until she fell asleep.   This would take well over an hour.  And she would wake up with the smallest noise.  I remember my husband sitting by Sam's crib until she fell asleep...and then rolling out of the room so that the floorboards wouldn't creak and wake her up!  Read More

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