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Newborn Baby Nap Schedule By Age: Tips on Maintaining an Infant Nap Routine

Navigating the ever-evolving sleep patterns of your little one can be a journey filled with trial and error. As your child grows, their nap needs shift, requiring you to adapt and find new ways to ensure they get the rest they need. 

In this guide, we'll explore the intricate world of baby nap schedules by age, providing you with expert tips to set and maintain a routine that grows with your child. Our secret ingredient? Nested Bean's gently weighted sleepwear, designed to mimic a parent’s soothing touch. 

This innovative solution has helped millions of parents transform naptime from a challenge into a peaceful slumber haven. We’ll talk more about the importance of knowing how to dress baby for sleep later on. First, let’s start with the importance of a consistent infant nap schedule. 

The Importance of a Consistent Newborn Nap Schedule

Before we talk about the ideal infant nap schedule, why is this such an important aspect of early parenthood in the first place? Establishing a consistent baby nap schedule for newborns is paramount to their development and overall well-being. 

During the first few months of life, newborns require about 14 to 17 hours of sleep per day, with sleep patterns divided between night and day. A regular newborn nap schedule aligns with the natural circadian rhythms, promoting better night sleep and aiding in developing a healthy sleep-wake cycle.

Consistency in nap times helps regulate a newborn's internal clock. This regulation is crucial as irregular sleep patterns can lead to overtiredness, making it harder for them to fall asleep and potentially disrupting their nighttime sleep. 

Additionally, consistent baby nap schedules support cognitive development. During sleep, particularly in the rapid eye movement (REM) phase, newborns process and consolidate new information and experiences, fostering brain development.

Moreover, a set nap routine provides predictable rest periods for parents and caregivers, allowing them to plan their day and rest as needed. 

It's also essential for emotional well-being; a well-rested baby is generally more content, alert, and interactive during their awake periods, enhancing bonding opportunities.

So, let’s get into the ideal infant nap schedule for those first few weeks with your little bundle of joy below!

Infant Nap Schedule for 0-6 weeks

Newborns typically cycle between feeding and sleeping: from 0-6 weeks, they’re awake for only about an hour at a time (sometimes even less.) That’s important since almost all baby brain development happens during sleep.

But before the 2-month mark, issues may arise that interfere with good napping, such as afternoon fussiness and Moro (startle) reflex.

This is totally normal. But you could probably do without the added sleep deprivation. 

Learn about baby sleep cycles here. Then check out the ideal newborn nap schedule below—and the action steps to help you stick to it.

My baby’s ideal nap schedule


# of naps

Nap duration

Nap times

Bedtime

Avg. daily sleep

 4-5 naps

15 minutes - 3 hours

Every 30 mins. - 1 hr, 25 mins.

9:30-11 pm

16-20 hrs.

How to make it happen

How do you get your baby to nap? A simple formula: (1) notice sleepiness cues, (2) add ambiance, (3) put the baby down drowsy, and (4) stay consistent. In short: N-A-P-S. Here’s how to incorporate it at 0-6 weeks.

An overtired baby has raised levels of stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. This can keep your baby awake, turning nap time into a struggle. If your newborn won’t sleep, read our guide on how to get baby to sleep through the night.

Action step: Notice sleep cues

Head off fussiness by putting baby down for a nap when you notice these sleepiness cues:

Naptime schedule

Newborns are particularly sensitive to changes in light, noise, and temperature, and that can make it difficult for them to fall asleep.

Action step: Add ambiance

Choose one consistent, safe spot for naptime, and create the right ambiance. Make sure the room is dark, quiet and not too hot or cold. The right sleepwear can also help baby settle faster. Learn more about sleep ambiance here.

Mid-nap wakeups

Newborns may startle awake with Moro reflex. Then they cry, wondering where you are, because they’ve not yet developed object permanence: the knowledge that something exists even if it isn’t seen.

Action step: Put baby down drowsy

Put baby down on her back, when not fully asleep, so she can see you leave the room, in a Zen One™ swaddle, gently weighted to soothe wakeful babies. Here’s a video with more tips on how to get baby back to sleep.

Short naps

Your baby wants to wake up and be with you! But experts agree: staying consistent with your baby nap schedule is vital to creating healthy sleep patterns and ensuring your baby gets deep sleep.

Action step: Stay consistent

It’s never too soon to establish positive nap associations: a warm bath, a gentle massage, and a lightly weighted swaddle can help you define a consistent nap schedule. Help your baby look forward to naptime.

 

Expert tip

“Sometimes when sleep cues show up it is too late! If you notice your little one getting sleepy, make note of how long it has been since the last nap. Then try to get them down 5 to 10 minutes earlier the next time.”

Maggie Moore, Pediatric Sleep Consultant 

New mom hacks you’ll love: safety first

Click here for a summary of safe sleep practices from The American Academy of Pediatrics.

Newborn Nap Schedule for 2-3 months

Close to the 3-month mark you can eliminate the evening nap, move bedtime to 8 pm, and expect longer stretches of sleep at night. (Check out our newborn sleep schedule guide here). Ahhhh. There is a sleep goddess.

But at this stage, babies are still startling awake, and new developments like increased alertness, growth spurts and a first tooth can trigger nap wake-ups. So, it’s a good time to work toward independent sleep. You’ll be glad you did, when the 4-month sleep regression hits!

My baby’s ideal nap schedule

# of naps

Nap duration

Nap times

Bedtime

Avg. daily sleep

4 naps

 30 mins. to 3 hrs.

1 morning nap

2 afternoon naps

1 evening nap

8-9 pm

15 to 17 hrs.

At 2-3 months, babies become much more alert to their surroundings, so changes in light, noise and temperature, can make it difficult for them to fall asleep at naptime.

 

    Action step: Notice sleep cues

    Head off fussiness by putting baby down for a nap when you notice these sleepiness cues:

    • Yawning
    • Rubbing eyes
    • Fluttering eyelids
    • Crying
    • Lack of interest in feeding

    Trouble settling

    At 2-3 months, babies become much more alert to their surroundings, so changes in light, noise and temperature, can make it difficult for them to fall asleep at naptime.

    Action step: Add ambiance

    Choose one, consistent spot for naps and create the right ambiance. Make sure the room is dark, quiet and not too hot or cold. The right sleepwear can also help baby settle faster. Learn more about adding sleep ambiance here.

    Nap schedule

    At 2 to 3 months, babies still often startle awake with Moro reflex. Then they panic, wondering where you are, because they’ve not yet developed object permanence: the knowledge that something exists even if it isn’t seen.

    Babies between 2-3 months of age experience growth spurts, which can make them nap longer, throwing naps and bedtimes off schedule. Counterintuitive as it seems, that can cause overtiredness.

    Action step: Stay consistent

    Be flexible, but try to stick to your nap schedule: the routine will be comforting. Continue to reinforce positive associations with napping: a soothing, lightly weighted swaddle can help provide more restorative sleep.

     

    Expert tip

    “As your baby approaches 4 months, bedtime becomes earlier and earlier. The goal is a bedtime of no later than 6:30 pm at four months.”

    Maggie Moore, Pediatric Sleep Consultant 

    New mom hacks you’ll love

    Baby Nap Schedule From 4-6 Months

    Finally: your baby’s internal clock has kicked in, so setting a nap routine is a whole lot easier. Your baby should be down to 4 naps and moving to 3 naps at 5-months. She should be sleeping about 10 to 11 hours at night.

    Put your baby to bed drowsy, but awake. Before your baby gets overtired or cranky, you might try singing soft lullabies or swaddling or massaging him or her. Eventually, your baby will learn that these activities mean it's time to rest.   - Mayo Clinic

    This is good news—But when babies nap less they can become overtired, which can affect infant nap schedules and good naps are more important than ever now. 

    These are also the month's many babies start to experience teething, swaddle transitioning issues and sleep regression. Fun! 

    Fortunately, we have tips on how to deal with sleep regression, advice on how to help a teething baby sleep, and insights on swaddle transitioning. You should also take the time to learn about the 4 month old sleep schedule in general beyond naps.

    My baby’s ideal nap schedule

    # of naps

    Nap duration

    Nap times

    Bedtime

    Avg. daily sleep

    3 to 4 naps

    90 minutes

    1 morning nap

    2 afternoon naps

    (possibly 1 evening nap)

    8 pm

    15 to 17 hours

    At 4-6 months, babies can tell the difference between day and night. So, they’re particularly sensitive to daylight, noise and temperature, and that can make it difficult for them to fall asleep at naptime.

      Action step: Notice sleep cues

      Head off fussiness by putting baby down for a nap as soon as you notice these sleepiness cues:

      • Yawning
      • Rubbing eyes
      • Fluttering eyelids
      • Crying
      • Lack of interest in feeding

      Trouble settling

      At 4-6 months, babies can tell the difference between day and night. So, they’re particularly sensitive to daylight, noise and temperature, and that can make it difficult for them to fall asleep at naptime.

      Action step: Add ambiance

      Choose one, consistent spot for naps (the crib is best) and create the right ambiance. Make sure the room is dark, quiet and not too hot or cold. The right sleepwear can help baby settle faster. Learn more about adding sleep ambiance here.

      At this stage, babies may experience a 4-month sleep regression—night wakeups due to developmental leaps— that can really mess with nap duration. At the same time, babies starting to roll may be transitioning from the swaddle, which is a strange new feeling.

       

      baby nap

       

      Swaddle transitioning

      You may be wondering…how long do you swaddle a baby? More specifically, when should you stop swaddling? There’s no one size fits all answer, which is why you need to look for certain signs.  

      When rolling starts, swaddling stops—and it’s time for a weighted sleep sack. Wait, what is a sleep sack exactly

      This type of weighted sleepwear is going to be your saving grace for preventing regressions when your child could become anxious, after being wrapped as snug as a bug for so long.

      You can learn more about the difference between a swaddle vs sleep sack, when to stop using a sleep sack, sleep sack sizing, what to wear under sleep sack, and more in our blog.

      Or, you can discover the best sleep sack for winter, best bamboo sleep sack, or best transitional sleep sack right here at Nested Bean. our sleep sacks are gently weighted to mimic your touch, helping prevent baby separation anxiety when you make the swaddle transition. 

      Action step: Stay consistent

      Have a swaddle transition plan to help you stick to your sleep routine. Dress your baby in a lightly weighted Zen Sack™, designed with soothing Cuddle Pads™ for uninterrupted comfort, to make the transition seamless.

      nap training

      Expert tip

      “4-months is a great age to teach your little one the importance of independent sleep. Work on making sure your little one is more and more awake when you put her down. Start this at night, then apply it to naps.”

      Maggie Moore, Pediatric Sleep Consultant 

      Baby Nap Routine For 6-10 months

      You’re getting there! At 6-10 months, many babies sleep through the night (if your definition is flexible), and just need 3-3.5 hours of maximum daily sleep (twice a day, plus an optional ‘catnap’ before 5 pm.) But new skills are kicking in—babies can roll, prop themselves up—and there’s lots to see and do!

      With so much new stimulation, naptime may be a struggle: babies may wake too early, and losing that third nap can be an adjustment. Some babies also experience an 8-month sleep regression.

      At this stage, sleep training at night is key to maintaining naps and staving off sleep deprivation. Check out the ideal baby nap schedule below—and the action steps to stick to it.

      My baby’s ideal nap schedule

      # of naps

      Nap duration

      Nap times

      Bedtime

      Avg. daily sleep

      2 to 3 naps

      1.5 to 2 hours

      1 morning nap

      1 afternoon nap

      1 catnap

      8 pm

      14-15 hours

      At 6-10 months of age babies are very alert and developing lots of new motor skills—and sometimes this can be overstimulating for babies, making it difficult for them to settle at naptime.

      Developmental leaps can trigger separation anxiety. If you wait until your baby is asleep to put her down for a nap, she may cry if she wakes up mid-nap and doesn’t see you.

      nap time is over wake up the baby

      An 8-month sleep regression, due to a surge in brain development, may cause nighttime sleep interruptions and shorter naps during the day.

      Action step: Stay consistent

      Be flexible, but try to stick to your nap schedule as much as possible so you don’t backslide: the regression lasts only about 2 weeks. A soothing, lightly weighted sack can help provide more restorative sleep in the meantime.

       

      Expert tip

      “At this age, it’s common for babies to practice new skills like crawling, sitting and rolling—when they should be sleeping. It’s very important to stay consistent with your routine, to help your little one focus on sleep.”

      Maggie Moore, Pediatric Sleep Consultant

      Baby Napping Schedule From 10-12 months

      The hardest part is behind you! At 10-12 months, your baby is down to 2 long naps, can settle herself to sleep and is sleeping ‘through’ the night. It’s all about sleep training, now.

      Easier said than done. Your baby has been going through a surge of motor skill development, and naptime is when she wants to practice her new moves. Oh, and she wants to practice them—with you in the room.

       "Biological clock is mature and they are synchronized to a 24-hour day just like an adult therefore wait times, nap times, and bedtimes can be at the same time each day."  - Dr. Bruce Hewett

      My baby’s ideal nap schedule

      # of naps

      Nap duration

      Nap times

      Bedtime

      Avg. daily sleep

      2 naps

      up to 3 hours

      1 morning nap

      1 afternoon nap

      7 to 9 pm

      10 to 12 hours

       

      At 10-12 your baby is active, super alert, playful and newly focused on social cues: faces, words, interactions. This can make it difficult for her to settle down at naptime.

      Separation anxiety

      Your baby is still learning ‘object permanence’—the concept that things exist even when unseen—so she may experience separation anxiety when you leave the room, fearing you are actually gone.

      Action step: Put baby down drowsy

      Put her down drowsy, so she can see you leave the room; give her one consistent ‘lovie’ to reinforce the routine, and leave smiling so she isn’t anxious. (Note: playing peek-a-boo will helps with object permanence.)

      Sleep training issues

      At this stage, encouraging baby self-soothing is key. Most babies struggle with this off and on for the first 2 years—but a consistent baby nap schedule, a sleep training regimen and the right sleepwear can help.

      Action step: Stay consistent

      Make Zen Sleepwear™ a regular part of your nap and sleep training regimen; its lightly weighted Cuddle Pads™ help babies settle faster, soothe themselves to sleep more easily, and stay asleep longer.

       

      Expert tip

      “Your baby needs 2 naps until 15-18 months—but she baby may start trying to transition to 1 nap before she’s ready (refusing a second nap, waking up too early, etc.) To keep her on schedule, wake your baby by 7 am and cap the first nap so there’s enough time for nap #2.”

      Maggie Moore, Pediatric Sleep Consultant

      Tips on Staying Safe When Implementing a Newborn Nap Schedule

      The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following safe sleep practices at naptime:

      • Sleep position: Make sure your baby naps on her back until he or she is rolling over independently, to reduce the risk of SIDS; side or belly sleep is not considered safe. Babies under 6 months old should be carefully monitored to prevent suffocation from blankets, etc.
      • Sleep surface: Use a firm sleep surface or sheet that fits the crib or bassinet perfectly. A mattress is firm enough when it does not conform to your baby’s head.
      • Crib objects: Keep soft objects away; pillows, blankets and toys should not be present in your baby’s crib or bassinet for the first year, as these items increase the risk of suffocation.

      When do babies stop napping altogether?

      Most babies still have at least one afternoon nap from 2 to 3-years-old. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) estimates that only about 50% of children still nap by age 4, and only 30% still nap by age 5.

      When should I transition to 1 nap?

      Try moving to 1 nap at 13-18 months if your baby is struggling with short naptimes, refusing the second nap or needs a later bedtime to fit both daytime naps in. For more info, click here.

      Gradually shift their morning nap to one mid-day or afternoon nap, and move bedtime earlier. For all the info on how to do this, click here.

      Can my baby be napping too much?

      You may need to play with the balance between naptimes and bedtimes. Getting too much day sleep can impact ability to sleep at night. Check out this sleep schedule to see how much sleep is needed in a 24-hour period.

      More Tips on Implementing Your Baby Nap Schedule

      Implementing a baby nap schedule requires patience, observation, and a few key strategies to ensure success. We’ve offered insights at each stage throughout this newborn nap schedule guide, but here are a few more practical tips to effectively establish and maintain a nap routine for your baby:

      • Observe Sleep Cues: Learn to recognize your baby's sleep signals such as rubbing eyes, yawning, or fussiness. Responding promptly to these cues can prevent overtiredness, making it easier for your baby to settle into sleep.
      • Consistent Sleep Environment: Create a sleep-friendly environment that's quiet, dark, and cool. Consistency in this space helps signal to your baby that it's time to sleep. Consider using white noise machines to drown out household noises. Or, try some of these infant sleep aid suggestions.
      • Establish a Pre-Nap Routine: A simple, calming routine before naps can signal to your baby that it’s time to wind down. This might include a quiet song, gentle rocking, or reading a short book.
      • Timing is Key: Align naps with your baby’s natural sleep rhythms. Most babies do well with morning naps around 9 am and afternoon naps around 1 pm, but adjust based on your baby's age and signs of sleep readiness.
      • Flexibility: While consistency is important, be flexible. Growth spurts, developmental milestones, and changes in routine (like travel) might temporarily disrupt newborn nap schedules. Adapt the schedule as needed while trying to maintain regularity.
      • Nap Duration: Don't expect all naps to be of the same length. It's normal for morning naps to be longer than afternoon naps. Typically, newborns might sleep for short bursts, while older babies might nap for 1-2 hours.
      • Use of Weighted Sleepwear: Whether it's the best transition swaddle, our winter sleep sack, or the best newborn pajamas, integrate Nested Bean's gently weighted sleepwear into the newborn nap routine. The gentle pressure can soothe your baby, replicating the feeling of being held. This can help in faster transition to sleep and potentially longer nap durations.
      • Limit Overstimulation: Just as with their newborn bedtime routine, avoid overly stimulating activities before naptime. Calm, quiet play can help ease the transition from wakefulness to sleep.
      • Monitor Sleep Patterns: Keep a sleep diary to track nap lengths and times. This can help identify patterns or issues in your baby's sleep habits, allowing for more tailored schedule adjustments.
      • Patience and Consistency: Lastly, be patient. We know you want to get baby to nap longer, but developing an infant nap schedule can take time and may require some trial and error. Consistency in your approach will gradually help your baby understand and adapt to the routine.

      Wrapping Up Our Baby Nap Schedule Guide

      There you have it - everything you need to know about implementing the proper newborn nap schedule. From recognizing sleep cues to establishing a consistent nap environment, these strategies are designed to support your baby’s development and ensure a harmonious routine for both you and your little one.

      Key takeaways include the importance of observing your baby's unique sleep signals, creating a calming pre-nap routine, and being flexible yet consistent with nap times. 

      Integrating Nested Bean’s gently weighted sleepwear can significantly enhance this process, providing the comforting sensation of a parent’s touch to improve the quality and duration of your baby’s naps. We have everything from transitional swaddles to zipper swaddles, sleep sacks, and more.

      Learn more about how to put a baby to sleep fast, when should baby sleep in own room, best swaddle for baby who hates swaddles, transitioning out of sleep sack, when to move baby to crib, when do toddlers stop napping, why your newborn cries when put down, baby cries meaning, other topics in our blog.

      Our products are tailored to make naptime a serene and restful experience for your little one, helping you create those perfect moments of peace and tranquility. Shop now to give your child the gift of better sleep.

      Maggie Moore - Moore Sleep

      Maggie Moore

      Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, Founder & Head Sleeper of Moore Sleep


      Lindsey Hennigar

      Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant, owner of The Sleep Ranch