Shopping Cart

Your cart is currently empty.

Continue browsing here.

Enable cookies to use the shopping cart

Cart Updated
Variant Title has been added to your shopping cart.    View Cart   or   Checkout Now
Variant Title has been removed from your shopping cart.

How to Get Baby to Nap: Baby Nap Schedule During the 1st Year

How to Get Baby to Nap: Baby Nap Schedule During the 1st Year

As if maintaining the perfect bedtime routine was not enough, as a new parent, you are also expected to master your baby's naptime schedule. To complicate matters further, there are baby's growth spurts or a sudden onset of GERD or colic or plain old infant gas that could throw a well-established baby nap schedule off. So when your baby’s nap or sleep time schedule is off, finding the cause is like solving a suspenseful case of whodunit!

NAPS: How to get your baby to nap and sample nap schedule through the first year

So, how do you get your baby to nap? Mastering the art of daytime sleep can be tricky, but there’s 4 steps you can take that will help get your baby napping in no time. The key to getting your baby to take nice long naps is just that: N-A-P-S.

N – Notice their sleepiness cues
A – Add the perfect ambiance
P – Put them down drowsy, but awake
S – Stay consistent

 

These steps are not all that different from how you get your baby to sleep at night, but oftentimes parents focus so hard on nailing their bedtime routines and night time sleep schedule, they forget that daytime sleep is just as important. A better daytime feeding, playing and napping routine usually defines how well the baby sleeps at nighttime and vice versa. It's a vicious circle.

Let’s start with a basic understanding of infant sleep at nap time, and then look at some possible schedules by age range. Our full nap and sleep schedules will give you some general guidelines for your baby's nap schedule through their first year. You'll also learn:

How many naps should my baby be taking?

How long should my baby nap?

How do I get my baby to nap?

What do I do if my baby won’t nap?

How do I develop a consistent nap time routine?

Could late bedtime be impacting my nap time schedule?

How do I know if my baby is napping too much?

When do babies transition to one nap?

When do babies stop napping all together?

HOW MANY NAPS SHOULD MY BABY BE TAKING?

Most newborns sleep anywhere from 2-4 hours at a time. So the number of naps your baby takes will depend on how long they’re napping for, and their age. As your baby gets older (about 6 to 8 weeks), their naps will consolidate into fewer, but longer naps, per day. Around 4 months, you’ll start to see a more predictable nap schedule emerge.

The table below shows the average number of naps per day based on your baby’s age.

AGE
NUMBER OF NAPS
AWAKE TIME BETWEEN NAPS

0-6 Weeks

3-5 naps

30 minutes- 1.5 hours

6-15 Weeks

3-4 naps

1-2 hours

4-6 Months

3 naps

1.5-2.5 hours

6-8 Months

2-3 naps

2-3 hours

8-10 Months

1-2 naps

2-3 hours

10-12 Months

1-2 naps

2.5-3.5+ hours

HOW LONG SHOULD MY BABY NAP?

After poring over much documented material, we found that from 0-3 months, there is really no set time that infants sleep for. Just like adults, each infant's need for sleep differs.

All articles give a range of how long to nap, where the lower limit is a ridiculously low number; so low that it may seem that you will spend more time putting your baby to sleep than your baby will spend napping.

While the higher end of that range is so high that you may wonder, "Who are these babies that sleep so well and how lucky are their parents?" and more pressingly, "What could I be doing wrong?"

My guess is most of you are doing nothing wrong…other than holding yourself, and your baby, to some unrealistic standards.

For the first 3 months, your baby will be sleeping A LOT. It won’t be a very predictable schedule, but they’ll go through the sleep, eat, poop cycle pretty much around the clock. Their sleeping periods might not last more than a few hours, but their awake times won’t be lengthy either. As your baby gets older, their naps will condense into longer stretches. Now that you know how many naps your baby should be taking per day, you need to know how long those naps should be. Taking three or four 15-minute naps a day means your baby won’t be getting enough sleep

GET HELP WITH NAPTIME 

...

The Zen Swaddle and Zen Sack's gentle pressure can help your baby start napping better and longer. Their soothing effect will keep your baby comforted between cuddles with you - so you can both get the rest you need. 


Taking a scientific approach, if your baby completes at least one full sleep-cycle, then your baby has taken the shortest possible full nap, right? So what is one full sleep cycle? Well, a baby's sleep cycle is not the same as a grown adults.

Your Sleep Cycle

adult sleep cycle chart

Your Baby's Sleep Cycle

baby sleep cycle

Most newborns cycle between deep sleep and short sleep every 10 - 30 minutes. This cycle lengthens with age. By the time your baby is 3 - 4 months old, a single sleep cycle may last about 45 - 50 minutes.

So for a newborn, a 10 - 30 minute nap is a successful and restful sleep. The same can be said for a 3 - 4 month old who naps for 45 - 50 minutes. Longer naps just mean a better and longer sleep.

To find out how long your baby should be sleeping throughout the day and night, click here.

Now that we have established the shortest duration of sleep, we ask the big question: How do we make it happen? The trick to helping your baby sleep easier and longer is N-A-P-S. 

N-A-P-S

Notice their sleepiness cues, Add ambiance, Put down drowsy, but awake, and Stay consistent....


HOW DO I GET MY BABY TO NAP?

According to the first three steps of N-A-P-S, the best way to get your baby down for naptime is to:

1) Notice their sleepiness cues and put them down immediately,

2) Add ambiance to create the perfect, soothing sleeping environment for your baby, and

3) Put your baby down drowsy, but while they’re still awake.

It’s easy to overlook step one. Some sleepiness cues are easy to catch, while others are a bit more subtle. But picking up on these cues is crucial to getting your baby ready for a nap at the optimal time. There are a number of signs you can watch for that will signal your baby is tired and is ready to sleep, which we call sleepiness cues.

Common sleepiness cues are yawning, rubbing eyes, ear, or head, looking away, and jerkiness or fussiness. If you miss these sleepiness cues and your baby stays awake too long, you risk having a very overtired, fussy baby. You can learn more about these specific sleepiness cues and how to soothe an overtired baby here.

Once you notice these sleepiness cues, it’s time to act fast. Your baby is tired and ready to go to sleep at this point, so get your nap time routine started and move on to Step 2: Adding ambiance.

Your baby’s environment plays an important role in how well they sleep. By recreating the same ambiance every time your baby sleeps (this includes day and night time sleep), that environment will become a signal that it’s time to sleep.

To create the perfect ambiance, block any natural light with curtains or shades, try using a white noise machine, and make sure you keep the room at a comfortable temperature. You can learn more about creating the perfect ambiance for sleep here.

Step 3 is key, but can also be the most difficult. One of the reasons babies often cry when the wake mid-sleep is because they are wondering where you are. When they first drifted off into dreamland, you were there with them. But now they’ve woken up, and you’ve disappeared! This comes to a shock to most babies, because they’ve not yet developed object permanence.

object permanence is not yet developed in newborns

Object permanence is the understanding that an object, or person in this case, still exists even though it can’t be seen. Since your baby doesn’t have this understanding, when they wake up and can’t see you, they panic because they don’t realize that you’re still nearby.

Putting your baby down while they’re still awake can help them develop this understanding. Wait until they’re drowsy and you’ve noticed some of their sleepiness cues, then create the perfect ambiance, and put them in their crib before they’ve fallen asleep. Try your best to refrain from rocking or nursing them to sleep. If they get used to falling asleep that way, they’ll expect it every time and it will grow increasingly more difficult to break those associations.

WHAT DO I DO IF MY BABY WON’T NAP?

If you have a baby who seems to refuse to nap, using the N-A-P-S steps should help! Here’s 4 things to check for if you’re having trouble getting your baby to nap:

  1. Is the ambiance right? Remember, environment is important. Make your baby as comfortable as possible by keeping the room at a comfortable temperature and making sure they’re wearing the appropriate clothing, use light blocking curtains, and try using a white noise machine.

  2. Are you putting your baby down once you see their sleepiness cues emerge? If you’re waiting too long after you notice these signals, your baby might be overtired. An overtired baby is usually fussy and has an even harder time falling asleep! Learn more about your baby's sleepiness cues and what they are by watching this video

  3. Are you putting your baby down while they’re still awake, but drowsy? Your baby needs to learn to self soothe – so try not to form any sleep associations. If you’re letting them fall asleep while nursing or rocking them, they might wake up as soon as you put them down. Then Zen Swaddle can help here.

  4. Do you have quiet time before putting them to sleep? Having some quiet time together as part of your nap time routine can help settle your baby and, with consistency, let them know it’s time to sleep. Try reading or singing to them, snuggling, or nursing as part of your soothing sleep routine. But again- make sure you’re putting them in the crib before they fall asleep!

HELPING YOUR BABY SLEEP THROUGH MID-SLEEP AROUSALS

Babies are also known to wake up mid nap. You can lengthen the duration of their nap by simply helping them back to sleep by placing a hand on their chest or patting softly. Creating any other associations such as nursing is not advisable as these habits are very hard to break. You'll find some helpful tips in this video on how to help get your baby to sleep. 

The Zen Swaddle or Zen Sack may help here. These accessories have lightly weighted parts to mimic your touch and help your baby enter a self-soothing cycle.

Real Mom Review

“The Zen Swaddle worked wonders! He is sleeping much better at night and we started using it for naps, too! My not-so-great napper went from 30 minute naps to an hour and a half! So happy!"

-Jenn, 6/3/2016
SHOP THE ZEN SWADDLE


HOW TO DEVELOP A CONSISTENT NAP TIME ROUTINE

The last step in N-A-P-S advises you to Stay Consistent. Consistency is SO important, especially when it comes to your naptime routine. Find a routine that works for your baby, and stick with it. Eventually, the routine will become a positive sleep association, so your baby will know that once the routine begins it means it’s time for them to go to sleep.

You can add anything to your naptime routine that seems to work well for your baby. Just keep the activities calm and quiet, and try to incorporate activities that can be done anywhere – so even when you’re away from home you can still perform the routine. 


You can try snuggling, nursing, reading, swaddling, and massaging. You can use a naptime routine similar to the routine you use before bedtime, or perhaps a shortened version if your baby still seems to respond. The most important thing is that you stay consistent. Go through your routine before every nap and sleep. In time it will become a signal to your baby.

COULD LATE BEDTIME BE IMPACTING NAP TIME SCHEDULE?

is your baby's late bedtime messing up your nap schedule?

Bedtime: It all starts here. When your baby is still less than 2.5 months old, they may be feeding every 2.5 - 3 hours and napping thought the day. Their bedtime may be late, around 9 -10 PM.

By the time your baby is around 2.5 months of age and they have given up the late evening nap, the bedtime should be moved earlier at around 7PM - 8PM. As counter-intuitive as it may sound, putting your baby to sleep late could lead to shorter sleep time.

However, starting the bedtime ritual as early as 7PM will help putting your baby to sleep by 8PM and keep them sleeping through the night for long stretches leading to a full night’s sleep. Hooray!

Check out our handy bedtime chart to see the ideal bedtimes for your baby through their first year.

CAN MY BABY BE NAPPING TOO MUCH?

Believe it or not, but there is such a thing as too much napping. If you notice that your baby won't fall asleep by 8PM, check your baby’s daytime cycles against the chart given above. There is a chance that you baby may be getting too much sleep during the day.

Get your baby checked by your pediatrician if any abnormal signs of sleep issues arise and once again, be a stickler for consistency as your baby matures in their sleep patterns. 


It is a hard road. Stick around, it will get better. Learn your baby’s cues and respect their need for quiet time and consistent routines and you will raise a healthy napper and a sound sleeper.

SAMPLE NAP SCHEDULES

Newborns typically cycle between feeding, playing and sleeping; in some cases just feeding and sleeping cycles. Once your baby reaches 3 - 4 months of age you will see more of a pattern emerge where your baby's sleep will consolidate into 3 naps during the day.

sample baby nap schedules

At 5 - 6 months, your baby will take 2 naps per day which will last till 18 months, which is when your baby will only take one long nap during the day.

After their first feed, newborns like to spend some time being active in the early morning. This is a great time to engage with them, talk to them, massage them and play with them for about 30 - 40 minutes.

After this early morning activity, they would like their second feed and then their first daytime nap. As the day progresses they may alternate between eating and playing or eating and napping. So let him or her follow this cycle as frequently as they need to. Typically, a newborn will nap 3 to 5 times in one day.

 

BABY'S NAP TIME SCHEDULE FROM 0 TO 6 WEEKS

Number of Naps
Nap Duration
Timing of Naps
Bedtime
Nighttime Sleep Duration

3-5 Naps

15 minutes-3 hours

Whenever baby falls asleep, usually every 30 minutes to 1.5 hours

9:30-11 PM

Waking every 2.5-3.5 hours for a feed

ZEN TIP: Newborns are noisy sleepers. Your baby may move and make sounds during sleep. She may also shudder, which is a result of a still developing nervous system. Read this article on moro reflex and how swaddling can help sleep through it. The Zen Swaddle helps combat moro reflex, but is also gently weighted to provide soothing pressure that helps your baby sleep better. 

Real Mom Review

My baby Apollo cannot sleep without this swaddle! I noticed he needed one because he wouldn’t sleep unless my hand was on his chest. Now he can sleep, and I can sleep! Thank you so much."

-Autumn F., 2/19/2018
SHOP THE ZEN SWADDLE 


BABY'S NAP TIME SCHEDULE FROM 6 WEEKS TO 15 WEEKS

Number of Naps
Nap Duration
Timing of Naps
Bedtime
Nighttime Sleep Duration

3-4 Naps

30 minutes-3 hours

1 morning nap, 2 afternoon naps, 1 evening nap

8-10 PM

3-6 hours

ZEN TIP: As your baby approaches their third month, it is a good time to institute nap-time and bedtime rituals. Include bath time, massage, cuddling, swaddling, shushing, white noise or reading as a part of a bedtime routine. Moro reflex may still be prevalent and you should try swaddling to help your baby sleep through it.

BABY'S NAP TIME SCHEDULE FROM 4 TO 6 MONTHS

Number of Naps
Nap Duration
Timing of Naps
Bedtime
Nighttime Sleep Duration

3 Naps

1-3 hours

1 morning nap, 2 afternoon naps

8-10 PM

6-8 hours (almost through the night, woo!!)

ZEN TIP: This is usually the age where sleep associations start to get in the way. To the best possible, avoid sleep associations such as always nursing to sleep. Such associations are harder and harder to break as your baby grows. Your baby might also learn to roll over at this time, which means it is time to stop swaddling. Like any transition you need to help her through. Our swaddle transition plan can help you.

During these months, do your best to keep the same consistent sleep routine that you started with in previous months. Try to provide a sleep time at the same times throughout the day. This builds the sleep drive which makes up for nice long naps during the day and night.

BABY'S NAP TIME SCHEDULE FROM 6 TO 8 MONTHS

Number of Naps
Nap Duration
Timing of Naps
Bedtime
Nighttime Sleep Duration

2-3 Naps

1-3 hours

1 morning nap, 1 or 2 afternoon naps

7-8 PM

9-12 hours

ZEN TIP: You’ve probably noticed your baby is getting more active during playtime and during sleep. Perhaps she rolls or turns a lot, finding it hard to settle into one position. Consistency, a quiet sleep routine and environment is more important than ever for your interactive baby who want to party with you instead of sleep. Avoid stimulating your baby before naptime or bed time. If your baby wakes herself up as she finds it hard to settle on her back or belly, give her an external sleep association, such as a lovie or a sleep buddy, so that she self-soothes instead of waking up looking for you to settle her back to sleep. The Zen Sack's gentle weight, that can be applied on her back or belly, can also help soothe during the trying time.

Real Mom Review

“I was doubtful that the Zen Sack would work, but it’s been such a blessing. Nap time used to be a joke... she’d only sleep if I was holding her. I tried sleep training, and she would just scream for hours. Now she naps on her own for about an hour and a half twice per day.She continues to sleep well and self sooth."

-Melanie, 3/20/2018
SHOP THE ZEN SACK 


BABY'S NAP TIME SCHEDULE FROM 8 TO 12 MONTHS

Number of Naps
Nap Duration
Timing of Naps
Bedtime
Nighttime Sleep Duration

1-2 Naps

Up to 3 hours

1 morning nap and 1 afternoon nap

7-9 PM

10-12 hours

BABY’S NAP TIME SCHEDULE FROM 12 TO 18 MONTHS

Number of Naps
Nap Duration
Timing of Naps
Bedtime
Nighttime Sleep Duration

1-2 Naps

1-3 hours

1 morning nap (if needed) and 1 afternoon nap

7-9 PM

10-12 hours

WHEN SHOULD I TRANSITION TO ONE NAP?

If you take a look at our nap chart above, you’ll see that you won’t be switching to one nap per day until your baby is 12 months or older. Until then, they simply need all that sleep. You 1 year old still needs 11-14 hours of sleep, but once they hit that one year mark, they should be sleeping a longer period at night – about 10 to 12 hours. So during the day, they’ll only need one nap for an hour or two to get an adequate amount of sleep.

If you’re noticing that your baby really isn’t sleeping during his nap – maybe he’s just playing in the crib instead – or if it takes him an abnormal amount of time to fall asleep, and then isn’t tired for his second nap of the day, these could be signs it’s time to make the transition. These signs should present themselves for 5-7 days in a row, and you should be taking your child’s age into account before determining if it’s time to transition. This will happen between 1 and 2 years of age, usually between 12 and 15 months for many babies.

How do I make the transition to one nap?

When you make the transition to one nap, or any nap transition for that matter (4 to 3 naps, 3 to 2 naps, etc.), it’s important to remember you’re disrupting your baby’s routine, which might cause them to do things or act differently than before and will most definitely take a lot of patience.

Start by putting your baby down for their nap later than usual. Start with 10-15 minutes. Depending on how long they sleep, adjust their bedtime. If they only took a 2 hour nap, put them to bed an hour earlier to make up for the shorter nap during the day. Gradually delay your child’s nap by an extra 15 minutes every day or two until you get them to their ideal time for a mid-day nap (probably around noon for most babies).

Keep in mind, your baby will probably be grumpy during this transition. You’re totally throwing off the schedule they’ve grown used to. Just keep it consistent (there’s that word again!). It will take time to get them adjusted to the new routine!

WHEN DO BABIES STOP NAPPING?

A better question would be “when do kids stop napping?” Because guess what? Your BABY will never stop napping! That’s right, your little one should be napping until they are into toddlerhood. By 2 years old, your baby will be down to one nap per day. That last naptime will stick around until 4, sometimes even 5, years old! This all depends on your baby and their sleep schedule.

Bottom line, don’t expect your baby to start giving up naps all together any time soon!

The Zen Swaddle and Zen Sack help institute healthy habits early. As part of your naptime routine, the Zen Swaddle or Zen Sack can become a positive sleep association. They can also help keep your baby calm and self soothing through those transition times!

To read more articles here are some of our favorite references on infant naptime soothing:

Monumental Guide to Short Naps (Precious Little Sleep)

Daytime sleep tips (Mayo Clinic)

Manasi Gangan

Share this

0 comments

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published