Naps. Never has something been so loved and hated among mothers. After all, a solid nap allows mom some downtime (and maybe the chance to drink a hot cup of coffee!) but a nap spent crying – well, it’s enough to pull your hair out.
As we’ve discussed in other posts, there are a number of reasons your child (baby or toddler) may be fighting his naps. However, it is important to note that just because he doesn’t want to nap does not mean he is ready to drop a nap.
Keep reading to learn more about how many naps a baby should have per age and why.
At Sleep Shop, we believe you can start baby on a routine very early on. At this age, it means feeding baby at set 2.5 – 3 hour intervals. Side note: if baby is hungry, feed him, regardless of how long it has been since the last time he ate. Babies go through a few growth spurts during this short period and it is important to provide baby with the nutrients he needs! This often means waking baby up during the day to feed. If your pediatrician has okayed it and baby is up for it, you can let him go longer than a 3 hour stretch at night.
Around this age most babies are better able to stick to a schedule, as mom and baby have figured out their own routine. If baby’s day starts at 7am, baby will be taking 4 naps plus one catnap and, if he’s a Sleep Shop baby, working on preparing for a 7pm – 7pm nighttime sleep stretch. Baby does not nap longer than 2 hours at a time, with most naps being 90 minutes (2 complete sleep cycles).
16 weeks to 7-9 months
Around 4 months, baby will transition to 2 longer naps plus one afternoon catnap. The first two naps will be around 2 hours (yes, this is possible!) and the catnap will be 30-45 minutes, just enough to get baby to a 6:30/7pm bedtime.
7-9 months to 16-18 months
By this age your little one will have dropped the afternoon catnap and should be taking two solid naps, one at about 9 am and a second around 1 pm. Each nap should be lasting about 2 hours.
16-18 months to 4 years
Somewhere around this time, your child will drop down to one afternoon nap. Children still need a lot of sleep at this age, so don’t let them fool you into thinking they should drop both naps! We believe that the afternoon nap is important for kids to keep until about 4 years old. Ideally this nap will last anywhere between 90 minutes and 3 hours.
Naps play a huge role in a child’s physical and mental development, as well as help stave off over-tired tantrums and behavioral issues associated with not enough sleep. For help getting your baby or toddler to nap, feel free to contact us!