On a recent Facebook Live call, I was speaking to Madeline, mom of 10-week old Molly. She described her daily routine for helping baby Molly sleep. This included HOURS bouncing her on a yoga ball or walking her around the living room and sometimes driving around in the middle of the night!
Whoa! Night driving?! I felt so sad and exhausted for Madeline. Life with a new baby is definitely tiring, overwhelming and non-stop. But helping your 2 month-old baby sleep well shouldn’t include hours of driving at night.
In fact, getting your 2 month-old baby sleeping well can be pretty simple when you stick to a few important points.
8-11 weeks old is a great age to gently introduce healthy sleep habits. Sometimes, all you have to do is change around your routine or add in a small sleep prop, and baby starts sleeping better right away!
The best way to decrease any stress and frustration over your baby’s sleep is knowing what you can expect from a 2 month-old. The first section of this article goes over your baby’s sleep needs. It tells you what you can reasonably expect so you’re not unintentionally asking too much of your baby.
The second section of this article has sleep tips that have been proven to help 2 month-olds sleep better. These are things you can do (or products you can get) that will have a dramatic impact on your baby’s sleep. And we all know, when baby sleeps well… mama sleeps well. ❤️ Let’s get you there!
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Your 2 month-old baby’s sleep needs
Your 2 month-old can stay awake only 1-2 hours at a time
Your 8-11 week old infant has a biological need to sleep often. Every 1-2 hours, in fact! Sleeping this often keeps baby from getting over-stimulated, which could make him fussy, restless and unable to settle down for sleep.
Once your baby has been awake for almost an hour, keep an eye out for his sleepy signs. Once you see them, prepare baby for a nap.
- activity slows & baby quiets down
- loses interest in people and toys
- stares off in space / eyes glaze over
- rubs eyes
- gets fussy all of a sudden
- wants to feed
Your 2 month-old will take several naps each day
Most 8-11 week-olds take 3-5 naps everyday. Your baby’s nap length will determine how many naps he takes. If he always naps less than one hour, he’ll need more naps to make it through the day. If he takes long naps of 1+ hours, he’ll need fewer naps.
The number of naps each day isn’t important. What’s most important is that your baby naps often (every 1-2 hours) and is happy between sleeps.
Short & unpredictable naps are common at this age, so try not to stress about them!
Your 2 month-old still needs to eat at night
It’s a good idea to first talk with your baby’s doctor about how long he can go overnight between feeds.
Assuming your baby is growing and gaining weight as he should, this is typically the age where you don’t need to wake your baby during the night to feed. (But please check with your doctor first!)
Most healthy 2 month-olds can get by with 2-3 night feeds. This means your baby will go 3.5-5 hours between feeds overnight. This is welcome news for tired parents who are up feeding their baby every 2 hours!
Your 2 month-old’s bedtime should fall between 8-10 pm
Bedtime for the newborn is naturally late- often as late as 11 pm! As your infant grows, he develops the ability to consolidate night sleep. (He learns to sleep more at night and less during the day.)
Your 2 month-old can be expected to sleep 8-10 hours at night. This doesn’t mean he can sleep 8-10 hours straight! Remember he still needs to eat at night. What this means is his “nighttime”- or the time he spends in bed at night- can be expected to be between 8-10 hours.
Because of this, bedtime typically falls between 8-10 pm. You don’t want to give your baby too early of a bedtime- he may wake for the day at 4 am! Instead, figure out what time your baby needs to wake in the morning and work backward to determine his ideal bedtime. Bedtime should move earlier over the next few months as baby begins sleeping more hours at night.
Your 2 month-old will sleep about 14-18 hours of every day
Babies this young need to sleep the majority of the day.
If your baby sleeps often and seems happy most of the time, you don’t need to keep track of how many hours he’s slept. I only recommend you track your baby’s sleep if you think there’s a problem- for example, if baby is continually fussy or awake for long periods day and night.
1. Play white noise all night long
The in utero environment is loud. Some experts say it’s as loud as a vacuum cleaner! Your baby is used to continuous background noise in the womb, yet when he enters the world we suddenly expect him to sleep in silence!
White noise is one of my baby sleep essentials. It blocks sudden noises from waking your baby (like an older sibling or barking dog.) Your 2 month-old already needs to wake and feed several times a night. You don’t want the neighbor’s dog waking baby too!
It’s considered a gentle sleep aid that helps children of all ages sleep better. (So use it in all of your kids’ bedrooms!)
White noise can be provided by a fan or sound machine. If you use a sound machine, don’t hang it on or inside baby’s crib. Instead, place it several feet from baby’s bed and play it at a normal conversation level.
You should play white noise all night long. The lightest phase of sleep is between 4-6 am. If a sudden noise wakes your baby (like the garbage collector) it’s a lot harder for baby to fall back asleep during those hours. Trust me, you don’t want to start your day before sunrise!
“Will my baby become dependent on white noise?”
White noise can be considered a sleep association because it’s something your baby associates with sleeping. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad!
Most moms would trade using white noise for having to be up 10 times a night soothing their baby, right? I recommend using white noise for your child’s first several years, because it helps him sleep so well! You can choose to wean off the white noise when your child is older (around 2-4 years.)
Weaning off white noise is pretty simple, just turn down the volume each night until it’s off. In all my years helping families, I’ve never heard of “white noise dependency” in older kids.
When you travel you can download a white noise app onto your phone, ensuring your baby’s sleep doesn’t go haywire on vacation!
White Noise Favorites
2. Darken your baby’s bedroom
A darkened bedroom is another of my baby sleep essentials. Light is a strong environmental cue that sends signals to our brain, telling it to stay awake. For that reason, you want to keep light out of your baby’s bedroom.
Your 2 month-old doesn’t need a night light or mobile running all night. Babies aren’t inherently afraid of the dark, their imaginations aren’t that sophisticated yet.
Sunlight pouring through the window will wake most babies. So unless you’re happy waking at sunrise, I recommend you install blackout curtains. They help babies sleep later in the morning and nap well too. Trust me on this one, a darkened bedroom is a game changer for helping babies sleep!
3. Start a peaceful bedtime routine
A bedtime routine is a series of activities that you do each evening to relax your baby and help him settle to sleep. Repeating the same activities at the same time each night has been proven to help children fall asleep quicker and sleep better overnight.
Certain activities help babies unwind, while others can be stimulating. You want to make sure you’re doing the right ones! My Exhausted Mom’s Survival Kit walks you through setting up a peaceful bedtime routine for your baby. And it includes a free printable bedtime routine!
4. Swaddle your baby
The womb is not only as loud as a vacuum cleaner, it’s also a tight and cosy space. We’re trying to mimic the womb so that the familiarity will relax baby and help him sleep well.
Most newborns love being swaddled for sleep. Your baby’s startle reflex can wake him often. So a restrictive, yet cosy swaddle dampens your baby’s startle reflex, preventing it from waking him. I recommend you swaddle your 2 month-old for naps and night sleep.
Maybe you tried swaddling your newborn and he didn’t seem to like it. In this case, I recommend a tight and cosy sleep sack. It keeps your baby feeling snug but isn’t as restrictive as a swaddle blanket. The Love to Dream and Woombie are great because baby’s arms aren’t kept at his sides. They’re up closer to his chest, which many babies prefer.
[Important Note:] Once your baby begins rolling, it’s dangerous to swaddle him for sleep. Instead, transition him to a swaddle transition blanket like the Zipadee Zip.
Swaddle Blankets & Sleep Sacks
5. Help your baby avoid day/night confusion
Your baby’s circadian rhythm develops between 6 weeks-3 months old. This is your baby’s “body clock” and it’s what causes him to sleep more at night and less during the day.
Much of this development is pre-programmed, but there are certainly things you can do now to encourage your baby to consolidate his night sleep. Especially if your 1-2 month old is awake for hours in the night.
During the day:
- Keep the lights on & curtains open.
- Allow normal household noises during feeds & play time.
- Take your baby out for errands, stroll, play dates, etc…
- Keep baby awake during feeds to encourage him to take big feeds.
- Dim the lights & close the curtains when home. Baby doesn’t need silence and complete darkness.
- For naps on-the-go (stroller, carrier) you may need to reduce noise and natural light. But follow your baby’s lead. Some little ones can nap in a noisy cafe just fine!
- Wake baby after a 2 hour nap and give him a feed. Make sure he’s awake at least 30-60 minutes until his next nap.
During the night:
- Keep overhead lights & bright lamps OFF. Instead, use the flashlight on your phone for diaper changes.
- For night wakings, keep the room as dark as possible. First, change baby’s diaper. Then, re-swaddle him. Finally, feed with the lights off.
- When baby is awake at night, stay quiet and boring. Any stimulation or play could encourage baby to stay awake.
Helping your 2 month-old sleep well is a matter of knowing his sleep needs and implementing a few tried-and-true sleep tips. Once you add in white noise, blackout curtains, a peaceful bedtime routine and specialized sleep sack- your baby will settle easier at bedtime and sleep longer overnight.
If you’re having specific sleep struggles, check out my resources below. Good luck to you! – Jilly ❤️
If You’re Having Specific Sleep Struggles…