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How Long Should Babies Nap?

Alison Weber
Posted by Alison Weber on 1/26/22 10:59 AM

Babies need a lot of sleep, this includes both daytime and nighttime sleep, and it varies greatly by age. Making sure your little one is getting enough sleep and getting them to sleep can be difficult. Newborns can especially have difficulty getting to sleep since they have not yet developed good circadian rhythm or simply, an internal clock. Here is the amount of daytime your baby needs, as well as their wake windows (how long they will be awake between naps) and average number of naps in a day: 

  • Babies from 0 to 3 months of age need about 4-6 hours daytime sleep. Between naps they are usually awake for 30-90 minutes. This means they could take between 4-6 naps a day. 

  • Babies from 4 to 6 months of age need between 3-4 hours of daytime sleep. Their wake time between naps is 1.5 to 2.5 hours and they take 3-4 naps a day. 

  • Babies between 7 to 13 months of age will sleep 2-3 hours during the daytime. They stay awake much longer, somewhere between 2.5-3.5 hours and they take 2-3 naps a day. 

  • Babies between the ages of 13 to 18 and 18 to 24 months also need 2-3 hours of daytime sleep. However, their wake times differ. The wake time of babies between 13 to 18 months is 3-4 hours and babies between 18 to 24 months will be awake 4-5 hours. Both age ranges will nap once a day. 

  • As babies grow they need less and less sleep. After age 1 babies are considered toddlers. Awake time is very important for them to practice both social, physical and mental abilities. For babies (or toddlers) 24-36 months of age daytime sleep drops to online 1-2 hours. This is one nap and their wake time is much longer, averaging 5-6 hours. 

Remember these are guidelines however, if you have concerns about the amount of sleep your little one is getting, please consult your pediatrician. 

 

Some good tips for nap time are: 

 

  • Set the mood (the room should be dark, quiet, and a comfortable temperature- this will help signal to your baby that it is time to sleep).
  • Put your baby down tired, but still awake  - this holds true for both nap time and bedtime. Your baby should not be overtired (this will cause fussiness and crankiness), but it’s important they learn to fall asleep on their own, rather than being rocked to sleep. Other activities in your routine will help your baby recognize it’s time to sleep (a bath, massage, story, etc.)
  • Safety first - don’t forget to put your baby to sleep on their back. They should not have blankets or anything soft in their crib (until 1 year of age - as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics)
  • Routine is key - Babies and children benefit from a set routine, including designated nap times and bedtimes. While we all know that is easier said than done, try to follow a routine as much as possible. This will help your baby develop good circadian rhythm and sleep better overall. 

 

Other things you can do to make sure your baby sleeps well are: 

 

  • Make sure they are getting enough stimulation during the day (both mental and physical
  • (If they are at least a year of age) Provide an item to help comfort them and serve as a transition item (i.e. a blankie, a stuffed animal, etc.). 
  • It can also be helpful to advise your little one when it’s almost bedtime. Set a timer to show that 5 or 10 minutes have passed or have them help with preparation for sleep (i.e. turning off the light, closing the curtains, etc.)

 

It can be helpful to keep in mind as well, although many babies will follow the sleep and wake times as outlined above, babies generally don’t show a regular “day waking, night-sleeping” pattern until 4 months of age. If you are thinking about sleep training, it will best be done once your baby is at least 4-months of age. If you want to learn more about sleep training, consider reading: Sleep Training Methods. 

Also, crying is normal at bedtime. Crying is normal for many babies when settling down at bedtime and between sleep cycles. Babies sleep better if they learn to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own. If you hear your baby crying, wait before rushing to their aid. Give your baby a chance to settle down, self-soothe, and fall asleep or back asleep on their own. If your baby’s cries intensify or are prolonged, check on them. Depending on their age, they might require a diaper change or a nighttime feeding. 

Babies might also experience separation anxiety, it can be worse between 10 and 18 months of age. Babies do not fully understand object permanence until 18-24 months old or the idea that something or someone they cannot see (i.e. mom or dad) continue to exist despite their inability to see them.  

Being a parent is hard and making sure your baby is fed, well rested and happy can feel like a full-time job, and it is. Remember, being a parent is the most important job out there, so  don’t forget to make time for quality time with your little one. 

Storybook - bedtime and infant massage app is a great addition to your baby’s routine. It will help you find 5-10 minutes or more a day to spend with your little one. Storybook’s social media and blog are also great resources with up to date information on child rearing, sleep, child-parent relationships, and more. So, make sure to like and follow us by searching: Storybook Massage and Stories (on Facebook) and Storybook app (on Instagram and Tiktok). 


helping baby sleep

Topics: Baby Bedtime

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