I am SO excited to have a guest post for today’s post. Let me introduce you to my bestie, Lauren Olson who runs Sleep and The City! She is a certified baby and toddler sleep specialist. Baby and toddler sleep is one of the most trickiest parts of parenting. I am a complete bear if I don’t get my 8 hours of sleep and she has given me countless advice to help both girls sleep through the night at a super early age, and with no terrible cry it out methods. Lauren is going to be talking about baby naps and sleep schedules in todays post. This is a super popular topic for her, so I’m thrilled she is passing on her wisdom to you! Enjoy!
Baby Naps & Schedules
All you need to know about where, when and how long your child should be napping from 0-12 months
How many naps does your baby need? How long should they be? Starting at birth, children NEED to sleep during the day, but how much is enough? Setting up a consistent sleeping environment (like the one Dock-a-Tot can provide), and creating a routine are key foundations your child needs to attain those lengthy naps during the day; without it all sorts of things can fall out of whack: meltdowns at the store, hours of overtired crying instead of sleep, and overall resistance to nap time.
Hi, I’m Lauren, the founder of Sleep and the City, a holistic and contemporary pediatric sleep company for children ages 0-3 years old. Let’s make your life just a little easier- grab a cup of coffee and digest this nap breakdown from birth to 12 months old.
Newborns (0-3 Months)
Although 0-3 month old infants are notorious for falling asleep on the job (i.e. breastfeeding) or in the car/stroller/swing, they should be napping every 45-90 minutes from the last time they woke up. YES- EVERY 1.5 HOURS max that sweet little newborn needs a snooze. Wake windows tend to be on the shorter side in the morning between waking up for the day and Nap #1, so try to keep errands for the afternoon. To time these naps correctly, watch for your baby’s sleep cues: rubbing eyes, sudden fussiness, yawning. Your goal for your infant should be 3-5 naps throughout the day (depending on nap length), and at this age it’s a fantastic idea to attempt at least one of these naps in the crib/bassinet.
Early Infants (4 & 5 Months)
Hooray! You’ve made it through the Newborn phase! Melatonin production ramps up this month, and baby now has the ability to perfect his self-soothing abilities and connect those sleep cycles at naps. Depending on the length, babies can take 3 or 4 naps a day, with that last catnap taking place between 5-6pm. I like to work towards 3 naps at this age with my clients, only because the 3rd nap is typically dropped between 6-9 months. Ideally, you’ll want to shoot for 3-5 hours of daytime sleep, with the first & second nap averaging at least an hour, and the catnap about 45 minutes (or a total of 3-5 hours). If your baby isn’t already sleeping in his crib for all naps, this is the ideal age to begin the transition. You’ll want about 2-3 hours after your child’s last nap so bedtime now falls between 7-8pm.
Infants (6-9 Months)
The 3rd catnap should begin to disappear- this is where you’ll notice your little one increasingly has trouble going down (or falling asleep at all) for this last power nap. Once you notice this continuously happening over a course of 2 weeks, go ahead and increase his wake windows to at least 2 hours and drop that last nap. Over this transition, some days baby will need 3 naps, some days only 2, but the transition only lasts about 2 weeks. Don’t forget when naps are dropped, you’ll want to move up bedtime by 30 minutes for at least the first week or you’ll have major bedtime battles. Overall whether it’s 2 or 3 naps, your Infant needs about 3 hours of daytime sleep, and has wake windows between 2-4 hours.
Older Infants (10-12 Months)
Only two naps remain, averaging 1.5 hours each. Both naps should be in the crib, or begin doing so ASAP. If your baby is sleeping through the night now, that first nap can begin about 2.5-3 hours after waking, earlier if not. Your wake windows are now about 2.5-3.5 hours! In the US, the majority of daycares will push children to one nap as he reaches the 12-month mark, but if you can hold off or at least give your child the chance to nap twice still on the weekends or after a big day, go ahead and do so. This is the age most children will have those meltdowns in public places, because parents mistakenly drop the second nap a little bit too early. Your baby, on average, will finally drop to one nap between 15-18 months old.
In the end, always be sure to use my “Sleep and the City” rules for successful sleep shaping:
- Swaddle (0-6 months) for nighttime and nap times as needed; we love how easy this is with the Ollie Swaddle
- Comfy outfits for nap time (who wants to sleep in tight pants or a dress?!) We love pajamas from Finn & Emma.
- White noise is continuously running; a one with low rumbling is best (see my Sleep Must Haves here!)
- Room is completely dark for naps & nighttime (nightlight over 2+ years ok, here is my favorite)
- The same sleeping environment is encouraged ( meaning one place over and over, or to start, at least one nap in the desired sleep place per day). We LOVE the Dock-a-Tot for my children to achieve this no matter where we are! Click here to immediately save $10 off.
- Understand the Wake windows by age
- Pause for a few minutes before rushing in to see if child can resettle on their own first if nap is less than 45 minutes
- Feed upon WAKING from sleep, not before (bedtime is the exception)
Thank you so much for reading, and please let me know if you have any questions. I’d love to pass them on to Lauren!