Nightingale Night Nurses 2-2020-198

Napping 101: Nap Routines By Month Age

A healthy nap routine is a key part of your baby’s well-being. Many parents wonder when their new baby will be able to sleep through the night but overlook the importance of healthy daytime sleep. When babies get the sleep they need during the day, they sleep better at night, too. But how many naps does a newborn need? How long should babies nap? When is it time to drop a nap? While each baby will have individual sleep needs, daily nap time follows a general pattern for most infants. At first, newborns seem to sleep around the clock! But over time, they grow into a rhythm of predictable nap times, slowly dropping naps until they’re ready to stay awake all day. Let’s explore nap routines by month age, from birth to preschool. 

0-1 Month Nap Routine 

Newborns need 14-17 hours of sleep per 24 hours with 6-8 naps per day. At 0-1 month old, newborns are often awake only long enough for a diaper change and to communicate that they need to eat again. This means they may only be awake for 45-60 minutes at a time. Overtired babies quickly become fussy and difficult to soothe to sleep. 

At 0-1 month, the focus is on helping baby get accustomed to life outside the womb. Nap times and lengths may be all over the place, and that’s okay. Forming healthy sleep habits from day one will help you develop a solid nap routine as your baby gets a bit older. It’s never too early to start implementing healthy sleep habits! White noise, blackout curtains, and swaddling set the stage for solid baby sleep. Remember, nothing in the crib except a well-fitting sheet and a pacifier (if you use one). 

Your newborn won’t have a true nap routine at this stage. Sleep stretches of various lengths scattered throughout the day and night are perfectly normal. Keep lights off or as low as possible at night and keep nighttime wake-ups “all business” – change, feed, burp, swaddle, back to sleep. In time, your baby will understand that nights are for resting only and with this solid foundation, you can begin to settle into a nap routine around the one month mark. 

1-5 Month Nap Routine 

By one month of age, most babies are starting to develop a four-nap routine. Awake windows are typically between 60-120 minutes at this stage. Put your baby to sleep when they’re drowsy but awake. This can take some practice, but stick with it! Consistency is key to any sleep routine.

Here’s a typical 1-5 Month Nap Schedule:

7am: Wakeup

830am – 10am: 1st nap

1130am – 1pm: 2nd nap

230pm – 4pm: 3rd Nap

5pm – 5:30pm: 4th catnap

7pm: Bedtime

5-8 Month Nap Routine

Around the 5 month mark, your baby’s awake windows will begin to get longer and there just won’t be enough time in the day for that last catnap. 5-8 months is also a common age for baby sleep training (what is sleep training for babies?). At this age, awake windows average 2-2.5 hours. In order for this nap schedule to work, your baby needs to be able to nap for 1-2 hours twice a day with one shorter catnap. Babies stay on this 3-month nap schedule until 7-9 months, when they transition to two naps. 

Here’s a typical 5-8 Month Nap Schedule:

7am: Wakeup

9am – 10:30am: 1st Nap 

12:30pm – 2pm: 2nd Nap

4pm – 4:30pm: 3rd Catnap

7pm: Bedtime 

8-16 Month Nap Routine

Around 8 months of age, your baby will be ready to drop that last catnap and take just two naps per day. This nap routine is a favorite amongst many parents as babies typically take two consistent, solid 1-2 hour naps per day – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Awake windows during this stage range from 2.5-3.75 hours. This nap routine should last until your baby is around 14-18 months old when they transition to one nap per day. 

Here’s a typical 8-16 Month Nap Schedule:

7am: Wakeup

9:30-11am: 1st Nap 

2pm -3:30pm: 2nd Nap

7pm: Bedtime

16 – 36+ Month Nap Routine

Once your baby can comfortably stay awake for 4-5 hours, they’re ready to transition to one nap. For most babies this happens sometime around months 14-18. It’s important that this one nap is a good one, typically 1-3 hours for most toddlers. Some children need to nap until age 4+, while others can happily handle no naps at age 3. It’s worth noting that many 2-3 years olds will go on at least one nap strike, but most will start napping again in a few days if given the opportunity. Many parents find that instituting “quiet time” during this transitional phase helps ensure that everyone gets the rest they need even if older toddlers aren’t always fully falling asleep during naptime. 

Here’s a typical 16 – 36+ Month Nap Schedule:

7am: Wakeup

12:30pm – 2:30pm: Nap

7pm: Bedtime 

When is it time to drop the last nap?

When your preschooler is consistently bouncing off the walls at bedtime, it’s a good sign that they’re ready to drop their nap. If they try to drop their nap before they’re ready, they’ll still be cranky and tired in the afternoons and exhausted by bedtime. When your preschooler can happily stay awake all day and is getting 12-13 hours of nighttime sleep, they’re ready to skip naps entirely. Many parents and caregivers choose to keep that hour or so of quiet time midday, to give children the opportunity to settle and relax. During this time, children can look through books, play quietly with toys, color, or listen to audiobooks.