Healthy Baby Sleep Elements and Developments


5 important elements to be aware of to get solid baby sleep. You will also find a list of common sleep milestones and when they happen.

Baby sleeping on mom's chest

The baby sleep book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child talks a lot about healthy sleep. Surprised? Probably not 🙂

So let’s highlight some points about Healthy Sleep. Since most readers of this blog follow Babywise, let’s also discuss how true these points are of the typical Babywise baby.


There are five elements of healthy sleep for a baby.

What does that mean exactly? These five things are important in estabishing healthy sleep overall.

Here they are:

Sleep Duration–Night and Day

Weissbluth says sleep durations starts off biological, but as early as 6 weeks is influenced by parents.

He says you can basically have a better behaved, happy child if you help maintain sleep needs. He says to respect child’s need for sleep and don’t interfere with the natural sleep process (page 16).

I think most of us Babywise parents believe we impact sleep duration sooner than 6 weeks old–otherwise we wouldn’t work so hard before then.


Weissbluth has lots of good info on naps here…so much that I will do an entire post on it rather than a short paragraph. Suffice it to say he talks about the importance of naps at great length.

The Complete Guide to Troubleshooting Short Baby Naps is a great place to start if you are having nap troubles.

Sleep Consolidation

This information starts on page 39.

Consolidated sleep is sleep that is uninterrupted. Continuous. Ten hours of fragmented (aka disrupted) sleep is not the same as ten hours of consolidated sleep.

All mothers know this well. Life with a newborn equals life of fragmented sleep. It is great to get 7 hours of sleep total in a night…better to get 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep in a night.

When we don’t get continuous sleep, we are less patient in the day. We can’t focus well. We aren’t very productive.

Remember, babies are people, too. If you do better with continuous sleep, so does your little person.

Weissbluth goes into detail about fragmentation, what causes it, what exactly fragmentation is, and points out that some are normal.

When we talk about fragmentations and consolidation, we are talking about sleep quality. How well did you sleep.

Sleep consolidation is not only important for night, it is important for day, too. Sleep consolidation is achieved by the person knowing how to fall back asleep on their own.

We Babywise parents agree with the importance of sleep consolidation. That is why we shoot for continuous nighttime sleep. That is why we shoot for longer naps. That is also why we tend to drop the dreamfeed before going to a four hour schedule.

Healthy Baby Sleep Elements Pinnable Image

Sleep Schedule–Timing of Sleep

This information is basically seeking out optimal waketime lengths. 

I have a very thorough post all about this age Optimal Waketime Lengths

Sleep Regularity

This section discusses the importance of regular sleep.

This means a regular bedtime (page 49). It isn’t enough for your child to get 10-12 hours of sleep each night. It even isn’t enough for him to get 12 hours of sleep every night.

He needs a consistent bedtime.

Weissbluth even says that a consistent bedtime that is later than the ideal time is better than an inconsistent bedtime (page 50).

Read: Importance of Consistent Bedtime

Weissbluth does say that bedtime can vary by 30-60 minutes based on your observations of the child. How did naptimes go that day? How is behavior? How tired is your child?

I would agree with a 30 minute sway in bedtime. I wouldn’t make a 60 minute sway part of the norm.

Try to stick to your 30 minute window as much as possible.

One interesting point about sleep regularity is Weissbluth says the natural biological sleep rhythm is on a 25 hour clock, not a 24 hour clock. He says most babies learn to time sleep rhythms to day and night. Others seem to get off every few weeks because of this 25 hour clock (page 55).

Read: Circadian Rhythm Explained and How It Impacts Sleep


Weissbluth lists normal maturation points in sleep that babies go through. They are (page 14):

  • 6 Weeks Old: Night sleep lengthens. This is in close range of the expected sleeping 7-8 hours by 7-8 weeks old for BW babies. For Baby Whisperer babies, Hogg says babies are sleeping about 6 hours around this age.
  • 12-16 Weeks Old: Daytime sleep regularizes. This is around 3-4 months old. I have found this to be true of my children; naps seem to be a lot more predictable around this age.
  • 9 Months Old: Disappearance of night wakings for feedings and baby drops third nap. I am happy to say my kids all slept through without eating long before 9 months old. As for dropping the third nap, Babywise says 8 months is average (though that means some are younger and some are older). All of my children have been older when dropping the third nap.
  • 12-21 Months Old: Drops morning nap. Babywise says this happens between 14-22 months, so it is a pretty similar time range.
  • 3-4 Years Old: Afternoon nap less common. I have found this to be true.


How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it 1-5!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 2

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

11 thoughts on “Healthy Baby Sleep Elements and Developments”

  1. I just have to tell you that you are a girl after my own heart. My third child is 3 months old and I have bee following you religiously since his birth. I did not know about BW the first time, but we used Weissbluth starting age 5 months. The second time I attempted to use BW. We struggled, and she didn't find her rhythm until much older. This time I bought Baby Whisperer on your rec and love it too. We are starting to see the thing you mentioned about day sleep regularizing. BUT my boy STILL won't sleep more than 4 hours at a time at night. His days are going very well. I am BFing and have tried upping his intake during the day (feeding on both sides, whereas I used to feed only one) the last few days and have not noticed a significant improvement. Anyway, just wanted to share my story. LOVE your blog!!!

  2. Hi! I just wanted to say Hi, and that my hubby & I are LDS as well.What do you suggest for a 3.5 months old and getting through 3 hrs of church 9am-12pm? We just started this new time. We can get to and through Sacrament just fine, but she gets very cranky and wiggly afterwards and will not sleep. She has great naps and sleeps well at night, when we are home, but I can't get her to nap on the go.Do you have any suggestions so that we can go to all three hours, without a very cranky screaming baby? Thx! [email protected]

  3. Thanks for sharing your story Angelle! Does your son have reflux or something (gas pain) that might be waking him? You can see also the post "nighttime sleep issues–revised and updated" for help troubleshooting that.

  4. Alyssa and Summer,See this post: it, I outline getting through church. I also list ever church time we have had and how our kids have handled it and what we have done about it. I thinkt that is a hard time for young babies because the morning nap gets all thrown off. Good luck!

  5. Hi, i have read baby wise book One, but there is nothing about how to put bb to sleep. I am having problem coaxing my baby girl to sleep every night, she will cry and i have to carry over shoulder to pat. I try to put her into cot when she calm down and drowsy, she will wake again. Now baby is 3.5mths, and going to infant care tomorrow, so day time nap i have no control, they will go on a 3hrs schedule and put on rocker to rock to sleep. I just hope that i can manage her night sleep when we bring her home.

  6. Hi, i have read baby wise book One, but there is nothing about how to put bb to sleep. I am having problem coaxing my baby girl to sleep every night, she will cry and i have to carry over shoulder to pat. I try to put her into cot when she calm down and drowsy, she will wake again. Now baby is 3.5mths, and going to infant care tomorrow, so day time nap i have no control, they will go on a 3hrs schedule and put on rocker to rock to sleep. I just hope that i can manage her night sleep when we bring her home.

  7. My 7 week old (almost 8 weeks) is still waking up 3-4 hours at night. She has gone 4.5-5 hours a handful of times. This is my third time doing BW and both of my boys were sleeping linfer by this point. I'm trying to figure out how I can get her to sleep the 7-8 hours you mentioned. I'm having a hard time getting her on a consistent wake time due to her waking up at different times in the night. Could this be contributing to her not sleeping longer? Also I do a dreamfeed around 11 pm – should I do this earlier more like 10? And last but not least she is eating every 2.5-3 hours during the day and goes down for a nap after 50-60 minutes of waketime. Could she be getting too much sleep during the day? Or should I cluster feed in the evening (4:30, 6:30, 8:30 and then 10:30)? That seems like a lot to me which is why I haven't done that yet. Any advice or tips would be so helpful as I'm bit getting enough sleep with two other children to care for during the day!!

  8. Kendra,Waking up at the same time each morning to start the day is very important to moving to sleeping through the night. Dreamfeed should happen in the 10 hour. So I would do it sooner than 11. I don't think she is getting too much day sleep. cluster feeding might help, but try the consistent morning wake up time and the earlier dreamfeed before moving on to cluster feeding. Good luck!

  9. My LO will be 6 weeks in 3 days and he is waking up a couple times at night fussing, so I feed him (usually between 1-2 am and then around 4:30/5 am). He has started to not act as hungry for one or both of those feedings, and definitely not real hungry for his first morning feeding at 7 if his last night/early morning feeding is 5ish. He just seems to use me more for a pacifier and falls asleep then eat a whole lot. Is he waking out of habit? How can I get him to go down to 1 feeding around 3 am? I do a dream feed between 10/10:30 pm.


Leave a Comment