Napping Guidelines

sleeping baby with a knitted hatA popular topic amongst new parents is their baby's napping schedule. How long they nap, when they nap, and where they nap. By comparing notes, these parents are trying to ascertain whether their own child falls into a normal range.

An important thing to remember here is that every child is different, so don't be alarmed if your child's nap schedule doesn't seem to fit in with others. However, if they are continually cranky throughout the day, you may want to try to lengthen their nap time. If your baby naps, well but wakes up for long periods of time at night, you may want to consider shortening their nap time.

Another important factor in determining how much your baby needs to nap is how much they sleep at night. A child who sleeps for 12 hours overnight will likely need to nap less than one who wakes up a few times. At the same time though, some kids just like to sleep more than others.

So how much should your child be sleeping then? Here is a rough guideline:

Age

# of Naps

Total Length of Naps

Overnight Sleep Hours (Avg.)

Total Amount of Sleep

Newborn

Newborns sleep 16-18 hours per day over 6 or 7 sleep periods

1 month

3

6-7

8 ½-10

15-16

3 months

3

5-6

10-11

15

6 months

2

3-4

10-11

14-15

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9 months

2

2 ½-4

11-12

14

12 months

1-2

2-3

11 ½ -12

13-14

 

If you are having trouble getting your baby to nap enough during the day, here are some suggestions:

  • Keep an eye out for signs that your little one is getting tired, and get them ready for their nap immediately; keeping them up longer will not help them nap better.
  • Consider introducing a pacifier if your child is over 3 months old and breastfeeding well. The use of a pacifier is hotly debated, but it is one way that your child can soothe themselves to sleep.
  • Offer a snack before nap time to ensure your child does not wake up early because he or she is hungry.

Once you have your baby in an established nap pattern, try to keep on the same schedule. Once your child knows what to expect, they will fall into a nap routine more easily, and they will likely sleep better at night as well.

Pantley, Elizabeth. 2002. The No-Cry Sleep Solution. New York. McGraw-Hill

What do you think?

Napping Guidelines

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25 comments

  1. LIZ says:

    im try to keep baby in schedule but i had a bay with so much energy, and im so happy with that

  2. Erin says:

    I’ll also add this: Now, she won’t fall asleep in my arms, and I miss it! But I know it was the right thing to do for both of us. She’s getting the sleep she needs, without me waking her up (eventually I’d have to get up to use the bathroom or eat something), and I have a bit of time in the day to do what needs to be done around the house and even do some things that I find enjoyable. Happy baby, happy mama!

  3. Erin says:

    My baby is nearly 4 months old now, and I had a hard time getting her to nap in her bassinet in the day in the first three months. She would only sleep in my arms, and would wake up within minutes of me laying her down. I tried the whole “put her to bed when she’s sleepy” thing and that just led to screaming! So here’s what I did: I sucked it up in those first few months and let her sleep in my arms. It was wonderful and frustrating at the same time! I figured that she’d only be a newborn once in her life, and that years from now, I would remember those sleepy cuddles more fondly than I would remember any housework that I could have been doing if she was asleep in her bed. When she was 11 weeks old, I decided to try putting her down when she was sleepy and giving her a pacifier, and it worked! I wasn’t happy to do the cry it out method, so I modified it a bit: I would watch for her signs of tiredness, pick her up, cuddle and rock her, then lay her down and give her the pacifier. I would stay with her until her eyes closed, then I would leave the room. If she started fussing, I would go back to her, but not pick her up. I’d stroke her hair and go “shhshhhshhh” until her eyes closed again. Of course if she was really crying, I would pick her up and start over. After a few days, she started falling asleep on her own, and now she takes 3-4 naps a day, each lasting between 1-2 hours. She’s always been a good sleeper at night (for the most part anyway). I think that developmentally she wasn’t ready to be able to self-soothe in those early weeks, but once she hit the 3 month mark and started being more aware of things, she might be able to do this. I was right! Every baby is different of course, but this is what worked for us. Now I have time to write long-winded comments on internet articles =) Good luck, mamas and papas out there!

  4. this will be my first baby so Im glad that I am reading this now b4 it happens to prepare myself 🙂

  5. Christina says:

    I HAVENT HAD MY BABY YET, &THIS IS MY 1ST, BUT I HEAR I WILL LOSE ALOOOOT OF SLEEP. BUT IT WILL BE ALL WORTH IT! (:

  6. Theresa says:

    i’ve figured out my 10 week old baby’s napping habits. She sleeps 30-60 minutes 4-5 times a day so that she can sleep a whole 6-7 hours at night.

  7. Amy says:

    My 13 week old son takes about 3 to 4 naps a day about an hour and a half each.

  8. Chels11 says:

    My daughter is 12 weeks and she takes 4 naps a day. Her last nap is from 10 to 11 then she stays up till one. I don’t mind since I’m a night owl but I was wondering if any one else has this problem. I tried getting her up earlier in the morning but she still takes 4 naps and she gets 10 hours of sleep each night.

  9. Anastacia113 says:

    My 23 month old set the napping schedule for my 6 month old, she sleeps after he is asleep.

  10. i kinda just let her nap when shes ready to and its pretty much always on sed so is that a bad thing?

  11. My daughter is 6 weeks old. She sleeps, but always fights to stay awake. Any suggestions?

  12. sbean1283 says:

    I have a really hard time with my baby taking naps during the day. We have a pretty good eating schedule, and she gets juice around 11:30 and usually takes a nap about 11:45 for 45 mins to an hour, and falls asleep on her own. But in the afternoon around 2:30 or 3 she has usually had another bottle of milk at 2 and is getting sleepy. You can actually tell – she yawns, gets fussy, rubs her eyes, the whole deal. But I CANNOT get her to take a nap 🙁 If she’s in her walker when she’s showing signs, she will doze off sometimes. But when I go get her to try to lay her down she is wide awake and after a while starts crying (like she is now…). Any suggestions to help?????

  13. Kevryn says:

    Good to know my little one in right on track

  14. TomasoSL says:

    Interesting.
    My daughter has a weird sleeping pattern for 4 months, but I suppose any sleep is good sleep 🙂
    I’m very thankful she’s able to go through the night without waking, but now she has been waking far too early for mommy haha

  15. Angela says:

    Awesome chart. Thanks!

  16. Danielle says:

    Good chart. I wish Amelia would take two naps a day still. At 11 months we are down to one these days…hopefully she gets back into two naps. =)

  17. Cid2008 says:

    My little boy is 6 months and we have almost always struggled with naps since day one. He fights naptime even with a routine. He does sleep good at night though so I am thankful for that!

  18. lyndsie7 says:

    Great info! My 9 month old does great with naps but has suddenly been having trouble with going to sleep and staying asleep at night. =/

  19. Leeana says:

    Very usefull chart

  20. This really helped me, my son is 8 months and he is for the most part sleeping betwwen 12-14 hours a day, he naps 2-3 times a day.

  21. meredith says:

    That chart is helpful. My son has changed his nap pattern a bunch of times in his 8 months.

  22. sukismom says:

    Very good, if your wondering if your baby gets enough sleep. We’re right on track 😀

  23. Bella8791 says:

    This helps me alot!

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