Part One: Babies 3-6 months

    By the time babies reach the age of three months, their normal sleep regimen should include 12 to 15 hours each day of normal sleep, including naps. By this time, the child's body has built normal sleep routines and the need for nighttime feedings will drop off to a great degree. 

    You may find that the child's sleep regimen is attuned to your family's routine already. If not, you may also wish to include a regiment of sleep training. This involves building a dependable nighttime routine for your child in which the body can come to expect and anticipate sleep. The typical sleep-training regimen will include a nightly schedule of feeding time, bathing, reading the child a story, followed by bedtime. 

    It's important for these same events to happen at the same approximate time every night, so the child grows used to rhythm and routine. Modern child psychology contends that children crave structure and reliability, and respond most positively to ordered events. An orderly environment not only allows your child to concentrate on growth and health but can also affect self-confidence and a sense of well being later in life.

    Between three and six months, your child will begin to sleep throughout the night. Remember that a normal uninterrupted sleep cycle for babies at this age is not eight hours but rather five to six hours at a stretch.  However, if your baby isn't sleeping a full five to six hours straight, or is still waking up for feedings, there is no immediate cause for alarm. Many infants up to the age of six months still continue to need feedings during the night. If after the six-month mark you find the feedings continue, you may wish to practice night weaning, which involves gradually training your child away from feeding during the night. Remember too that if you're a working mother during the day, the child may use night feedings as a means of reconnecting with you. Some experts also warn that unnecessary night feedings can also disrupt the baby's optimum sleep rhythms. All the same, take care that you're able to get enough sleep yourself during the night, keeping your strength up for day feedings as well as the rest of your daily responsibilities.

    As with sleep training, you can best serve your 3-6 month old baby's sleeping habits by establishing structure and routine to their sleep cycle. Take care to wake the baby at the same time every morning, and to lay the child down for sleep at the same time every night. Nap times should also follow a set schedule. 

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