One of the most common queries I get from parents is around the theme of naps. How many does baby need? How long should they be? How to help the baby that won’t nap? Rest assured you aren’t alone if you’re asking the same questions! Naps are the best thing ever when they are going well, because nap time means you get to take five minutes or so from the daily routine. Nap time means a break from nappies, feeding and generally running around after a baby. Nap time can even mean a little ‘me’ time too! So when nap time doesn’t seem to be going well, it’s no wonder we can become a little frazzled. Here’s a quick guide to how many naps your baby needs. Let me know if you need any help- I’m always on Twitter (@RebeccaMichi) and Facebook.
Naps are important
Babies need more sleep than we do. During sleep, their bodies and brains are undergoing huge developmental changes so without enough sleep they are going to get exhausted. Sleep is also when they (like us) rest and re-charge ready for the next round of life, so keeping your baby well rested is vital. Don’t underestimate the power of the nap!
How many naps?
Newborn: Your newborn baby will sleep a lot, usually around 18 hours in every 24. Naps are likely to be as and when your newborn needs them, so don’t worry about a schedule. Be led by your baby and don’t sweat it.
One to four months: Babies at this age will begin to display some signs of a routine, but for some this can change almost daily! Most babies will have around four or five naps a day at this age, but they can still be as and when needed, and depend on when baby wakes in the morning. It can make planning activities difficult, but again it’s best to be led by baby.
Three to four months: This is usually the age that babies tend to need just four naps, but as all babies are different you might still get five.
Five to eight months: Older babies will start to drop a nap usually, so you are looking at around three naps by now. Some babies will stick to four, and some will be happy with three. It’s up to baby!
Nine to 18 months: As baby gets older, the nap routine starts to take shape. For some babies it can take up to nine months to get there, while for others it can be from six months or so. By this age, baby will usually need two naps a day. Some babies like a longer one in the morning and a shorter one in the afternoon, and some will prefer it the other way around.
15 months to 4 years: Around this age babies will need only one nap as a general rule.
How long in between naps?
It depends on your baby! Look for sleep cues and take matters into your own hands as soon as you see that baby is tired. From around the age of four months, your baby will probably need their first nap around an hour and half to two hours after waking up. You’re likely to see the same length of wake time in between naps throughout the day, but as babies can be fickle, make sure you don’t ignore sleep cues in favour of the clock.
How long to nap for?
Be guided by your baby. Generally sleeping, less than an hour is not going to be long enough- but if baby wakes up happy and alert, it could be just right. Watch for sleep cues before the next nap is due, and if baby becomes tired very quickly after the first nap, it could be that she woke too soon.
Naps and how long baby should have can be a minefield, and as every baby is different there is no way for me to say how much sleep all babies should have. Let your baby guide you- take note of how long she sleeps and what her behaviour is like afterwards. Take a read of my guide to how much sleep babies need, and if you think you need to work on lengthening naps, let me know!