When thinking of our babies sleeping, their nighttime sleep is usually where most parents emphasize. Research does tell us that difficulties with night sleep has the largest negative impact on your family. Day sleep however, is also important, as sleep begets sleep! But there is a lot to know. I hope the information below is helpful so you can make the most out of their day and of course their daytime sleep.
Newborn to 5 MonthsDon’t worry about having a rigid schedule at this stage. Some newborns need a lot of sleep, others are not so good at napping yet. What is most important at this age is to put them down for a nap frequently during the day (every 60-120 mins, see below for more precise numbers). It’s common for them to have 4 to 5 naps throughout the day and the length of the nap will vary greatly for newborns.
6 to 8 MonthsAt this age, your baby will benefit from at least 3+ hours of total nap time, spread throughout the day. Try a morning, afternoon, and late afternoon catnap. If they nap well, they might only take 2 longer naps as they approach 8-9 months.
9 to 12 MonthsFrom 9 to 12 months, you can expect your baby to sleep about 3 hours during the day, spread across 2 naps as she will likely drop the late afternoon catnap. You might also see the morning nap shorten and the afternoon nap lengthen. Start the afternoon nap about three hours after the morning nap.
13 to 18 MonthsAt this age, expect to see your child sleep about 2 1/2 hours of total nap time, spread across 2 naps. Do not let them get rid of their morning nap too soon. Most children don't drop to one nap until around 15-18 months. If you find your child is refusing the afternoon nap, it is likely that they slept too long in the morning. It is okay to wake them up from the morning nap after 1 to 1 1/2 hours if it helps them be tired enough to take that afternoon nap.
When they do switch to the 1 nap, the nap should start between 12-1PM depending on their age and when they wake in the morning.
MSD Sleep Tip: click on this link to view our blog - "Is my toddler ready to drop to one nap?"
18 to 24+ MonthsAfter 18 months, your child will likely be ready for one afternoon nap lasting about 2-2 1/2 hours and ideally nap time should start about 1pm or just after lunch time.
2+ years and beyondAt this age, expect your toddler's day sleep to start to decrease to 1 1/2 to 2 hours total. They are getting ready to make a steady shift towards ending naps altogether, which is common around 3 and 4 year old.
Nevertheless, you always want to make nap time or at the very least 'quiet time' an option for them. See more on quiet time below.
“Windows” of Wakefulness
I find that awake windows or sleep windows are like magic, as when you get them right your child can fall asleep much easier as they are not 'undertired' nor 'overtired' - both of which can affect nap time.
4-6-months: 2-2.5 hours
6-9-months: 2-3 hours
9-12-months: 2.5-4 hours
12-18-months: 3-4.5 hours
18-24-months: 5-6 hours
2-year-old: 5-6.5 hours
3-year-old: 6-7 hours
4-5-year-old: 7-8 hours, if still napping
Keep in mind that these hours refer to children who are sleeping throughout the night.
MSD Sleep Tip: download a chart of the awake windows for your reference guide. download awake windows chart
Less is not Always More
I wish you and your family sweet dreams and sweeter mornings!
Photo credit: Classic Kids Photographyhttp://classickids.com/our-studios/newport-beach/