The EASY Schedule: The Essential Sleep Routine For Your Baby

The EASY method is a baby routine with a dedicated order for eating, playtime, and sleep, as well as time for the parent or caregiver to have to themselves. Here's what you need to know about using the EASY method.

Is there a way to help baby sleep through the night, and claim precious time for yourself? Parents often believe that baby's sleep patterns are down to luck (with some help from the environment). But many parents have found success with a baby routine called the EASY Method. Today, we'll break down what the EASY method is and how to use it.

What is the EASY Method?

The EASY method is a baby routine with a dedicated order for eating, playtime, and sleep, as well as time for the mother or caregiver to have to themselves. This method was developed by Tracy Hogg, author of the book Secrets of the Baby Whisperer.

When you follow the EASY method, you never feed baby on demand. Instead, you guide baby through their daily routine in a specific order:

  • Eat
  • Activity (playtime)
  • Sleep
  • Your Time (time for the parent, while the baby is sleeping)

Once baby wakes up, you then follow the sequence again, starting with eating. Then, you'll go through the sequence as many times as needed throughout the day.

Learn more about the EASY method from Bumps to Bundles & Giggles to Tumbles:

Does it matter how often baby eats and sleeps in this method?

Every baby is different, so every baby will take different amounts of time to eat and sleep. And often, baby's eating and sleep amounts will change as they grow. Don't worry if baby seems like they're sleeping less, or if there are longer gaps between feeds.

The exact times of day, eating amounts, and sleeping amounts don't matter in this method, as long as you always follow the EASY order for when baby should eat and sleep in sequence. If you follow the steps, baby will still grow and thrive--- and you'll reclaim at least some valuable time for yourself. Now, let's go through each of the steps of the EASY routine in sequence.

E: Eat

Just what it sounds like, these are the times when you feed baby breastmilk or formula (or solids, once they're ready).

For the first few months of baby's life, though, the EASY routine also includes two important evening and night feeds--- the cluster feed and dream feed. These two types of feeds are key in keeping baby satisfied so they'll sleep through the night.

Cluster Feed

The "cluster feed" involves feeding baby around 2 hours apart in the evening, before bed. After the first cluster feed, you'll have baby do an activity (such as tummy time or engaging them while in their bath) and take a catnap. Then, after the second cluster feed, you'll put baby right to bed.

For example, you might cluster feed baby for the first time at 6 PM, do an activity, have baby catnap, then do the second cluster feed at 8 PM before putting baby to bed. Cluster feeds are usually done through baby's second month, then added back in between 4 and 6 month if your baby experiences a growth spurt.

Dream Feed

During the dream feed, you feed baby during the night while they're still asleep. Feeding baby like this without waking them up will help them sleep better through the rest of the night---hopefully, without waking in the middle of the night, so you can enjoy more precious sleep. During the dream feed, you must make sure they're just conscious enough to latch onto and suck the breast or bottle, without rousing them. The dream feed should take place between 10PM and midnight (no later than midnight).

A: Activity

After feeding baby, doing an activity with them will engage them and help promote healthy development of movement and cognitive skills. Being physically and mentally busy will also help tire them out so they're ready for a nap!

Baby activities could include tummy time, bath time, reading to baby, singing to baby, taking baby outside, or giving baby a toy to play with. Diaper changes should also take place during activity time. For the very youngest babies, giving them a toy or mobile to stare at, or talking to/cooing at them count as activities.

Just don't overdo the activity. You don't want baby to be so wired that they refuse to nap.

S: Sleep

Sleep is essential for baby's growth and brain development. Babies' naps can range from 20 minutes (early on and for catnaps) to 2 hours. Napping throughout the day will help your baby sleep at night, but if baby naps too long throughout the day, they'll likely have trouble sleeping through the night. Especially watch the last two naps of the day--- if baby sleeps too long during these naps, they might be wide awake at bedtime.

Y: Your Time

Once baby is sleeping, savor the precious and valuable time to do whatever you want! Call a friend, watch a favorite show, read, catch up on social media, take a bath, or recharge with a nap of your own.

Sample EASY Schedules

The website Noob Mommy has put together sample EASY schedules for babies ages 4 weeks-1 year of age.

As you'll see in the schedules, as baby gets older, they should be able to go longer between feeds (at approximately 4-6 months, they should be able to go 4 hours between feeds.)

Then, once baby starts eating solids, you'll need to adjust the "eat" parts of the schedule for giving both the solids and breastmilk/formula.

Again, don't feel like you have to follow an exact schedule. The schedules linked above are just meant to be examples of how to apply the EASY method.

When should you start the EASY routine?

The earlier in life you start, the easier it will be to establish the EASY routine, because it's less likely that your baby has already fallen into another routine.

You can start to apply the EASY routine as soon as baby gets home from the hospital.

But it may be best to start the EASY routine around one month of age, after you know how much breastmilk or formula baby needs to be full without overfeeding.

If your baby's over a month old, though, don't fret. You can still apply the EASY routine anytime before 9 months of age.

When does the EASY Routine no longer make sense?

At around 9 months of age, baby should consistently eat three meals a day with two snacks, and go 5 hours in between main meals. Keeping baby on a schedule will still help, but it won't exactly follow the EASY pattern.

Then, shortly after their first birthday, baby will usually only need one long nap in addition to their nighttime sleep, so the EASY routine will no longer make sense.

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