How Often Should Babies Nap For?

In my experience from working in a daycare setting, I’ve seen many different napping schedules. Like most parents with more than one child will tell you, no two children are exactly alike. Some may be more than willing to take their nap around nap time while others resist with every effort they have. Consequently, the question that commonly arises is how often should babies nap? baby taking a nap Often times, new parents believe that if their babies sleep too much during the day, it could be the cause trouble sleeping at night. The truth is all infants need a certain amount of sleep and it may come in different patterns. For instance, it may seem like a baby that is taking 4-5 cat naps a day is sleeping a lot compared to one that takes just 1-2 longer naps. The key is not to focus so much on the frequency, rather keep in mind the duration of their naps.

How Much Sleep Do Babies Need?

To better understand how often babies need to nap, let’s go over how much sleep is actually needed. Here is a simple breakdown of the amount of sleep your baby requires at different ages:

  • Newborns up to 6 months need an average of 16 to 20 hours total in a 24-hour period.
  • Babies between the ages of 6 to 12 months usually need a little less sleep than younger infants averaging around 12 to 15 hours total.
  • Toddlers 1 to 3 years generally need an average of 10 to 13 hours of sleep.

Since newborns spend the majority of their time sleeping, there is really no set napping schedule, so it’s best to just let them sleep as they please. From birth until about 3 or 4 months, infants will typically sleep for 2-4 hours at a time regardless if it’s day or night time. This is due to their tiny stomachs that require more frequent feedings. Basically, newborns wake to eat and may stay up for a short time afterwards then go right back off to sleep. I have heard some rare instances of parents who claim their newborns were sleeping through the night, up to 6-8 hours at a time, without waking up for feedings.

When to Establish a Nap Schedule

Most babies will begin sleeping for longer stretches through the night by around 4 months that average around 10 -12 hours, though it may not be consistent. By this age they should start to develop a daytime napping schedule, typically up to 3 naps, averaging 3 to 5 hours of sleep per day. You can expect your baby to begin sleeping consistently through the night between 6 and 12 months, if they haven’t been already. Most babies will get up to 11 hours of sleep at night. They should be taking 2 naps daily, usually one in the morning then in the afternoon, that total to 3 to 4 hours of sleep. If your baby sleeps for shorter periods, it’s normal for them to still take up 3 naps a day. As they get closer to their first birthday they should be sleeping less frequently during the day. Once your baby reaches one year, they should be down to just one nap her day, usually in the afternoon. Some toddlers may only nap for one hour tops while others may sleep as long as 3 hours. It just depends on your child and how much rest their body needs. Naturally, changes in your schedule may disrupt nap times and alter the length of time your child naps for. Once a nap schedule is in place, you will want to try to stay consistent with it. If your child seems unwilling to take day time naps you may try some sleep solutions to help them settle in. Just remember that every child develops their own sleeping patterns, so try not to stress about how often should babies nap for. In some circumstances, certain medical conditions such as anemia could lead to fatigue, causing your baby to want to sleep more. If you are concerned about the amount of sleep your baby is getting always consult with your pediatrician.

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