Napping Guidelines, Age by Age
These napping guidelines will provide you with an understanding of how much daytime sleep your baby needs as she grows.
Why Napping Matters
The Oxford English Dictionary declares that the verb to nap was “formerly in more dignified use than at present.” Clearly, they have not been speaking to parents of young children! Parents say words “nap time” in the same tones they might use to say “sweet light of heaven” or “free house cleaning.” Napping is quite dignified, thank you very much, and necessary for the health and happiness of both child and parent.
Here’s about what you can expect, from infancy through age two.
0 to 3 Months
When they’re not eating, crying, pooping, or amazing you with those gorgeous eyes,
newborns are sleeping. Infants repeat the wake-eat-sleep cycle throughout the day and night; they must do so in order to get sufficient nutrition.
Even if her schedule seems pretty random, you can help your baby begin to learn the difference between “sleeping” and “napping” by distinguishing between night and day. At night, keep the lights low, and maintain a tranquil environment. During the day, let there be light, noise, and activity. Pretty soon, she’ll develop a napping pattern, a great start to a healthy routine.
4 to 6 Months
Broken into five to nine hours of napping and six to 10 hours of nighttime sleep
Babies at this age still wake up at night to eat, and although they are awake longer between naps, they still conk out whenever they’re tired. During these months, try to detect the times of day when your baby is most likely to sleep. A pattern should begin to emerge. Reinforce “naptime” when you see signs of sleepiness by putting your baby in his crib to sleep.
7 to 9 Months
Broken into three to four and a half hours of napping and 10 to 12 hours of nighttime sleep
Around this age, your child should be sleeping a pretty solid chunk at night, awaking perhaps once. Now that you know how long she’ll sleep at night, you can figure out how long her naps should be to meet her sleep needs. Divide this time into two naps: morning and afternoon. Establish a nap schedule that will ensure that your child gets enough sleep.
A tired child may begin to exhibit behavior or developmental problems, and a child’s sleeping problems can cause stress within the family; a rested child is a happier child.
10 to 12 Months
Broken into three hours of napping (in two naps) and 11 hours of nighttime sleep.
Sleeping through the night should be a regular and welcome change at about the time your baby reaches nine months, certainly by 12 months. His nap schedule should be well established: a shorter nap in the morning and a nice, long nap in the afternoon.
And you, well, you look fantastic! What happened to those circles you used to have under your eyes?
13 to 18 Months
Broken into two and a half hours of napping (in two naps) and 11 hours of nighttime sleep
“NO!” You might run into a little opposition at naptime as your baby becomes a toddler, but be strong. Remember that naps are as necessary to your child’s health as exercise, and continue to make them mandatory twice a day. If you implement your pre-napping routine consistently, your toddler will learn that resistance is futile!
19 to 24 Months
Broken into two hours of napping (in one nap) and 11 hours of nighttime sleep.
Between the ages of 18 and 24 months, your child will be ready to give up the morning nap. To make the transition a smooth one, keep her busy during her usual morning naptime. Move lunchtime a little earlier so you can settle her down for her afternoon nap a bit early.
As she grows accustomed to the new schedule, you can reinstate her usual naptime routine. She’ll likely take an afternoon nap until she’s about four years old, though it will shorten a bit as she ages. That’s when you’ll have to face the big issue: When are you going to get anything done?
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