How Many Naps for my Baby or Toddler’s Sleep Schedule?

Last Updated Oct 15, 2018.

Newborn and 1-month-old nap schedule

(0–8 weeks)

Babies do some crazy stuff those first 8 weeks. Sometimes they sleep around the clock, sometimes they sleep in 10 minute increments, sometimes they’ll only sleep one, 5-hour block from noon to just before dinner, then they’ll be awake all night. Whatever they’re doing, they’re supposed to be doing it. Instead of telling you how many naps a day your (very) newborn should be taking, I’ll instead tell you one of the biggest favors you can do for your little one and yourself is to wake that baby up once it’s been asleep for two hours for a nap. In other words, from 7 am to 7 pm, don’t let that little guy or girl sleep longer than 2 hours at a stretch without getting them up, feeding them, and keeping them awake for a little while before putting them back down. However, even doing that will be next to impossible with most 2-3 week old babies. So, just try your best. If you start to get stressed or anxious, immediately stop what you are doing and go back to what was working. Those first two months are tough enough and babies are just figuring out how to eat, digest, and keep themselves warm, so give them a little break. You’ll both get there eventually. Get more detailed advice in my article on newborn sleep schedules, or check out my Newborn Sleep Program which has every tip and trick I know for getting your newborn sleeping their best sleep.

2-month-old and 3-month-old baby sleep schedule

(Infants 8–14 weeks)

Around this age is when kiddos should be having 4–5 naps. You may very well have a cat napper, which is totally typical and totally okay. That might mean your baby is taking 5 short naps a day. Or, say your baby has a nap or two a day that are nice and long, then short naps the rest of the afternoon. That’s okay too! Just follow the rules above about not letting her sleep longer than two hours for a single stretch and you’ll be well on your way to establishing a good nap pattern. Towards weeks 11–14 you should try to gently guide your baby to a four nap pattern, if they’ll allow themselves. Aim for a 2.5 to 3 hour cycle where baby is awake for about an hour+, then sleeping for about an hour+ (if possible, do NOT beat yourself up if you can’t get your baby to sleep longer than 30 minutes. This is normal and with some hard work down the line, it will pass).

3-month-old, 4-month-old, 5-month-old, and 6-month-old sleep schedule

(14 weeks to 6 or 7 months)

This is the age range when you want to solidly move your little guy into a 3 nap pattern. If you have a fourth nap that’s hanging on, work hard to get rid of it. Ideally you’d have a baby napping sometime in the 8 am hour, again in the 11 am hour, then once more in the mid afternoon. This is also when it’s a good time to start sleep training. A lot of people, (like A LOT), advocate not sleep training until 4, 6, or even 9 months. Sometimes I think when I talk about sleep training and other people talk about sleep training, we’re not talking about the same thing. When I talk about sleep training a 3.5 month old, I’m talking about teaching them how to fall asleep without any help. They can still eat at night, they can still nurse, they can still do all the things babies do, they’re just also capable of falling asleep for naps and at bedtime unassisted. So, this is the age where you can work towards setting a firm start time of the day and also teaching your baby to fall asleep without your help. This is also where you can start to work on lengthening naps. If you can teach your child to fall asleep unassisted, using whatever method you wish, then you are well on your way to getting your kiddo on a consistent three nap schedule.

You want to aim for naps that are about an hour or longer.

6 to 7-month-old, through 14 to 18-month-old schedule

By this age your little one should be taking two solid naps, one at about 9 am and a second around 1 pm. Each nap should be lasting about an hour or more in duration. Follow my guide on transitioning from 3 naps to 2 naps.

Toddler Sleep Schedules

14-18-month-old babies to 2-year-old and 3-year-old toddlers

Somewhere around months 14 to 18 babies will drop down to one nap. They should maintain this nap until they’re about 3 years old, and perhaps on into the fourth year. Ideally this nap should last anywhere between 90 minutes and 2.5 hours.

And here’s where I answer the “why” portion of the original question of how many naps your baby or toddler needs.

The first nap of the day for baby is mentally restorative and the second nap of the day is physically restorative. All subsequent naps are simply “bridges” to bedtime. They are necessary, but are of little cognitive or physical importance. They also have a tendency to be problematic, either because they are difficult for baby to fall asleep for or because they start and end late in the day. Many parents allow their babies to take 3rd (or 4th) naps that occur way too late in the day. As a general rule all daytime sleep should end by no later than 3:30 or 4:00 pm. Sleeping past 4 pm is the same as adults taking a nap at 7 pm. Maybe once in a while if you fall asleep so close to your normal bedtime it’s not a big deal, but if you went to sleep every day at 7 pm for 45 minutes, you would quickly develop a problem falling asleep for the night before 2 am. Sleeping too late in the day causes nighttime sleep issues for babies.

Ideally babies need to complete more than once sleep cycle per nap. Each sleep cycle is about 30–60 minutes in length, depending on the baby and their age. So, I like to aim for naps that get past that pesky 45 minute mark many kiddos seem to love so much. You’ll find a strong correlation between babies that don’t know how to put themselves to sleep, and those who don’t nap long enough. That’s because they’re finishing a sleep cycle during a nap and then waking up and not being able to fall back to sleep because they don’t know how to without your help. Certainly babies who are sleep trained often struggle with short naps, but those struggles are usually short lived, and the short naps are usually addressed by dealing with other sleep-related problems (cutting off other naps, not letting naps go too late, timing naps appropriately, etc).

Once a child goes down to one nap, the benefits of the morning and afternoon nap are combined into one. Follow my instructions on transitioning your toddler from 2 naps to 1.

So there you have it! Please post any comments below and be sure to subscribe to my newsletter for regular tips and tricks, and follow The Baby Sleep Trainer on Facebook.


  1. Wendy August 5, 2014 at 6:41 am - Reply

    Great post! My LO is 4.5 months and we have a good bedtime routine and he can fall asleep on his own. His naps, however, are still short (40 min). You mentioned to have naps end no later than 4pm but I find that my LO awake time is 1.5 hours…2 hours max if I really distract him. I’m not sure how to keep him up from 4pm til bedtime at 6:30/7pm without him melting down and getting overtired?

    • admin August 5, 2014 at 6:54 am - Reply

      Hi Wendy,

      His bedtime is probably a bit too late for him. Many babies his age thrive with a bedtime closer to 6 pm. Also, around this age is when you want to focus more on keeping him awake til his scheduled naps and work through the overtiredness we all worry a lot about. The overtiredness issue is more something to focus on until about the fourth month, then you start to push through to help the baby get on a timed schedule. But, you can definitely make it a gradual process. You can work towards that over the next month or two.

  2. Lisa August 5, 2014 at 12:13 pm - Reply

    Thanks for posting Natalie! I read the article and comments regarding naps and bedtime. I have a 3 week old newborn. We don’t have an establish schedule of anything yet. We feed on demand and let him sleep whenever he wants to for however long. After reading your article, I’m going to try to work the baby up to the recommended nap lengths and amount. However when I return to work, we won’t get home til 6ish and won’t have dinner until 7 that usually lasts 30 mins to an hour. How do we adjust the recommended nap times and lengths and finally bedtime if we don’t even get home by 6ish?

    Thanks so much for sharing your wealth of knowledge!

    • admin August 5, 2014 at 2:46 pm - Reply

      Hi Lisa,

      Hopefully you’ll see some great progress soon with his sleep!!

      Some babies adjust really well to later bedtimes, and some really struggle with being put to bed later than 6 or 7 pm. I’d encourage you to read the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. The author makes a great point for why early bedtimes are so vital. If you find that your personal circumstances dictate a later bedtime, simply allow that last nap of the day to end later and push bedtime later as well, and gauge how your little on reacts to that.

  3. Cass August 5, 2014 at 12:35 pm - Reply


    Our son is 5wks old and my husband wants to let him cry it out when it’s time to go down at night. He sleeps in the crib for all of his naps all day but when nighttime come he wakes up as soon as we put him down in the crib and we end up being awake until midnight trying to carefully put him down.

    Is it okay to let a baby cry it out at this age?


    • admin August 5, 2014 at 2:49 pm - Reply

      Hello Cass,

      This is a deeply personal question and one that you need to answer for yourself. While there is no solid evidence stating that cry it out at any age is harmful, babies at the 5 week mark have not been studied. Having said that, I know many families that find success with cio at many ages. I would encourage you to treat your baby as if he were child number three or four. However you would put him down for bedtime if you did not have the luxury of spending the entire evening putting him down is what I would recommend you do to deal with this issue. If you had him, plus a 2, 5, and 7 year old, how do you think your evening with him would be different?

  4. jg August 5, 2014 at 3:37 pm - Reply

    Hi Natalie,
    Thanks so much for enlightening us! I was wondering if you could comment on the 9am, 1pm times for naps. Why are these the times for naps? If baby naturally wakes later in the day (8am instead of 7am), would 10am, 2pm naps be reasonable? Thanks!

    • admin August 5, 2014 at 10:29 pm - Reply

      Hi Jg,

      There’s some data out there that shows infants and toddlers have rushes of melatonin around 9 am and 1 pm, which is why we want to encourage them to sleep at those times. If your little guy or girl wakes later, then feel free to do naps a bit later as well. Each baby is certainly an individual.

  5. Emily August 5, 2014 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    Our 20 month old refuses to go to bed any earlier than 8pm, whether or not he’s had 1 nap or 2. We can put him in his crib between 7:00-7:30, but he will always sit there and play/sing until he finally falls asleep at 8:00pm. It doesn’t bother me that much since he is able to fall asleep on his own, and he sleeps well at night. However, with only 1 nap he is a cranky boy throwing tantrums all afternoon until 8pm. When we let him take 2 naps (the first around 9am and the second around 3-3:30pm), he is a little angel and so much fun to be around – he also often naps until 5pm, which gives me lots of time to make dinner and do household chores. I strongly feel that he is not ready to drop that second nap, but I cannot get him to go down for the second nap any earlier than 3-3:30pm (which will conflict with the 4pm rule). Any advice?

    • admin August 5, 2014 at 10:30 pm - Reply

      Hi Emily,

      Again, each baby is an individual. If you find that two naps keeps your boy happy and that he’s still sleeping soundly through the night than don’t worry about changing anything just yet.

  6. Maja August 6, 2014 at 12:14 am - Reply

    Hi Natalie,
    Thank you so much for this article. We have a 26 month old who started refusing his daily nap about 2 weeks ago. We are beside ourselves because he is soooo exhausted but won’t fall asleep. We leave him in his crib for up to an hour and a half but even if he is dead tired, he won’t fall asleep! The rest of the afternoon is so difficult because he is delirious from exhaustion. When he used to take naps during the day he would sleep from about 8:30 pm to 6:30 am and then nap from 1 pm to 3:30. Now we put him to bed at around 7 pm and he sleeps until 7-8 am. I’m really worried because I know how important sleep is for children’s development but it’s not like I can force him to fall asleep. Any insight you might be able to provide would be really helpful. Thanks in advance!

    • admin August 6, 2014 at 3:29 am - Reply

      Hello Maja,

      I would start to cut out some of his night sleep by waking him up earlier in the morning. I would wake him around 6:00 am then put him down for his nap around the same time. Try this for a few weeks and his nap should kick back in.

  7. Lisa August 6, 2014 at 2:40 am - Reply

    Natalie, thanks for responding to the comment so quickly.

    In addition to the three week old, I also have a 3 year old toddler. We have a routine with him which is get him from daycare around 545, bath, eat dinner from 615-730 depending on his mood then play for an hour and get ready for bed. He always had one of us sit next to him after story time until he falls asleep. I’m trying to break him out of the habit bc it’s a lot of time spent in the dark waiting for him to fall asleep. Lately, we’ve been explaining to him that he doesn’t need an adult in the room to sleep. It usually ends up with a few bad crying sessions and us going in and out of his room with bribes or threats to take away his toys, etc. By the time the whole ordeal is over, it’s already 10-1030. It even went past 11 the first night. He still gets up at the same time around 630-7 regardless of when he falls asleep. While he sleeps through the night and gets a solid 8 hrs of sleep, I don’t think it’s enough. What can I do to break him out of the need for adult company at bed time? And is 8 hrs enough for 3 year old? Btw, he only takes a 1-2 hr nap in daycare. He wakes up tired and cranky but pretty happy and active once he arrives at daycare.

    Thanks for your advice!

    • admin August 6, 2014 at 3:32 am - Reply

      Hello Lisa,

      He should definitely be sleeping between 10-12 hours at night. To break him of that nighttime habit of needing your assistance requires more help than I can provide in this comment. My best suggestion is to do some research on the most common forms of toddler sleep training, pick a method, then STICK TO YOUR GUNS!! Expect him to get upset, maybe to throw up, but follow whatever method you’ve picked and he’ll cut out the waking. Also, you can always find someone to help you personally 😉

  8. Ashton Roberts August 8, 2014 at 6:17 am - Reply

    Hey! Great read. Kai can fall asleep on his own now (thankfully!), but we’re struggling with nap time. He is much better behaved if he naps, but our issue is that we get up late. Kai’s wakeup time is between 730 and 830AM, whereas mine is closer to 1030. He’ll usually lay in my bed after he wakes up and wait for me, often falling back asleep. I’ve struggled with oversleep my whole life, so it’s really hard for me to wake up and be active earlier than later morning. Even then I’m still pretty nonfunctional until noon. Normally I would assume it’s best to still have him nap and just have his bedtime be later. However, that’s hard on us, because by the time he falls asleep it’s our bedtime too. We end up not being able to get certain chores or projects done, or have any alone time. So what do you recommend? Should I just suck it up and learn how to wake up early?

    • admin August 8, 2014 at 6:32 am - Reply

      Hey Ashton!!

      One thing to keep in mind is that even though you may have the luxury of sleep in now, Kai will be starting school in a few years, and then you’ll have no choice but to get up early. Even now, though, his body’s own circadian rhythm would rather follow the sun, which is why he wants to start his day around 7:30 am. I suppose if I had to make a suggestion, I’d try getting him up at 7:30 am at the latest, then have him down for a nap around 1:00, and try that for 30 days. You just did that Whole30 thing, right? This can’t be that hard! 😉 But in all seriousness, go ahead and commit to getting up on time for a month and see how that goes for you guys. At the end of the month you can decide if getting up early is worth it.

  9. Jinny August 19, 2014 at 9:16 am - Reply

    Hi Natalie! Thanks so much for this post! I have it saved on my phone and read it just about every day, just to remind myself of what I should be doing :). I just had a quick question. You said that babies can be trained to fall asleep on their own, but that they can still nurse and feed, etc. When trying to sleep train, wouldn’t that confuse them if sometimes you make them CIO (if that’s the method you choose) and sometimes you go in to nurse them at night when they wake up? My LO is 12 weeks and I’m counting down the days til he is old enough to try sleep training. I am seriously contemplating sleep training him now, but concerned that he still needs the nighttime feeding(s). He is being rocked to sleep now and I feel like it’s getting harder and harder to get him to go and stay asleep. Please keep the posts coming…I love them! Thanks so much!

    • Natalie August 19, 2014 at 1:48 pm - Reply

      Hi Jinny,

      You make an excellent point. When I have my clients sleep train, many choose to keep a feeding. There are a few different methods out there that describe how to successfully keep a night feeding while simultaneously keeping a night feeding, so outline what you’d like to do before you start, then just go for it!!

  10. Kristen October 20, 2014 at 1:21 pm - Reply

    First off, THANK YOU!! My little one was waking up 4-5 times a night at 3 & 4 months old. I’ve devoured your blog and read everything you offered and things have changed for the better. I have my sleep back and my sanity back! My baby is now 5 months old and, after following your advice, he naps 3 times a day at 8:30 (1hr), 11:30 (1.5hrs), and 3:00(45 min). He goes to bed at 6:30pm and wakes up twice a night, usually around 10:30 and sometime in the early morning of 2-4 am, and then wakes up for the day at 6:30 am. I’m starting to sleep train again but with the goal of dropping both night time feedings.

    My question: is it reasonable for me to expect my 5 month baby to sleep 12 hrs a night without a feeding?? Or should I continue the early morning feeding/start a later bedtime to shorten the night?

    • Natalie October 21, 2014 at 11:26 pm - Reply

      You are SO WELCOME!! I’m thrilled to hear the blog has helped you so much 🙂

      To answer your question, yes absolutely it’s reasonable to expect your 5 month old to go 12 hours through the night. I’d say on average 90% of the families I work with with babies that age go 12 hours without a feeding no problem. Provided your baby is at least 14-15 pounds you should be all clear.

  11. christine November 8, 2014 at 7:40 am - Reply

    Thanks for this post! Since daylight savings, our 14 month old has been waking at 5am. His naps have stayed the same (9am&1pm each about an hour) as has his bedtime (6:30-7pm). Do we need to drop that morning nap to help him sleep longer in the morning?

  12. Megan January 4, 2015 at 11:10 am - Reply

    I have read a lot of advice but just recently came across your blog. I feel like I am going against a lot of the recommendations and therefore am struggling with naps and nighttime. My baby (now 3 months tomorrow and about 15lbs!) was very fussy in the beginning therefore I kind of just did what worked in order to survive (started Zantac at 2 months which has helped!!). I am still currently nursing to sleep for night time and naps. Although naps are rare and always have been. The luckiest I have been was 2 days of 2 2-hour naps in a row at 8 wks. Prior to Zantac we would often go days without naps despite my efforts 🙁 now we usually get 1 nap a day- rarely more then 45 min- 1 hr. I try for more and she either wakes up right away and just will not go back down or we get into a vicious cycle of sleeping for 5 min, waking, rocking back to sleep, Etc for sometimes over an hour and then either I give up or bc she is wide awake or she’s rooting again or has pooped. I EBF and she doesn’t take a pacifier. She naps in a dark room with white noise in a rock n play or crib) and sleeps in a co sleeper initially then our bed at night after the first feeding. Nights are inconsistent- I start to nurse at around 7:30-8 for last feeding and it usually takes 1-2.5 hrs. Average first sleep is usually 2-6 hours- more often around 3-4. Then the next cycles are more difficult usually lasting 1.5-2 hrs. She is vey startily and I often have to hold her startle down to keep her sleeping. We swaddle under the arms bc since day one she has been very resistant to the swaddle. I feel like I gave it my all bc I know it’s in her best interest and have spent $100’s on different swaddles but even if I swaddle drowsy she realizes it and screams bloody murder! I tried holding and shushing her despite the screaming for at least 5-10 min but it wasn’t decreasing and I felt horrible. I go to bed when she does at night which is probably why nighttime is more successful- since I’m there to shush her/hold down her startle before she fully wakes up. I feel so bad she rarely gets naps and I’m definitely trying although probably doing everything wrong. I also can’t imagine her falling asleep without nursing! I’ve tried and we’ve gone days without naps. She should be getting about 3 naps at this age correct? Also with her weight, she could potentially be sleeping much longer at night, correct? Any advice would be appreciated!!! TIA

    • Natalie January 4, 2015 at 2:44 pm - Reply

      Hi Megan,

      I think you’re right that you’ve done everything you can do, except for full blown sleep training. Your baby probably has more of a falling asleep issue rather than a sleeping issues. I would wait til she hits the 14-16 week than find a method you feel comfortable with and start implementing the plan. The key is she MUST learn to fall asleep on her own for naps, bedtime, and throughout the night. Once she learns that (to sleep without nursing to sleep) then things will get a lot better for you!!

  13. vicky February 26, 2015 at 11:32 am - Reply

    Hi Natalie,
    Thank you so much for your post! I was wondering how Can I transition my 7 month old to sleep earlier at night at 7:30pm? Her current bedtime is 9:30-10. Her naps start from either 9-10 am and sleeps for 45 mins to a hour at times and 2-3pm and 45 mins. Should she have a another nap after? I’m thinking probably not since she should having two naps and I want her bedtime to start at 7:30. How do I do this is we have dinner at that time? Thank you!

  14. Natalie February 27, 2015 at 1:46 pm - Reply

    If you simply cut off her last nap at 4 pm and do NOT allow her to sleep any more past that time, she’ll be ready for an earlier bedtime of 7 pm.

  15. Eileen February 28, 2015 at 6:16 pm - Reply

    Hi Natalie! Thanks so much for a great post. We just started sleep training my 7 month old this weekend. My question is – he can roll from back to belly but then gets stuck and can’t flip himself back. At night he likes to sleep on his back and gets really frustrated on his belly. We are doing a check and console technique, my question is should we flip him over when we go in for the intervals? He ends up falling asleep on his stomach for naps for does prefer back at night (I can’t blame him!). Thanks!

    • Natalie March 1, 2015 at 9:54 pm - Reply

      Hi Elieen,

      I wish I could advise you on the flipping!! That’s a question you need to ask your pediatrician – I’d suggest following his/her advice directly.

  16. stephanie gyamfi December 28, 2015 at 8:34 am - Reply

    Hey Sleep Goddess! Reading thru your blog posts on naps looking for maybe a way to stretch out Joey’s one nap. He is 18 months, and sleeps thru the night, around 715-730 til the next morning (say anywhere from 545-630 average)…naps have been fine, but have noticed lately they are short, and I’m wondering if I am starting them too late. Daycare puts them down for one nap by 1230, but if he has been up since 6 or so, it may be too long a stretch? Apparently, when he stirs/wakes at daycare, they rub his back and he stays/goes back to sleep. No such luck at home. Once he sits up, its a wrap. We have been getting 45-75 min naps lately. Should I move it up earlier than the 1230 range? Is there a time (like x hours after waking) that you suggest for one nap? Thanks and Happy Holidays!

    • Natalie December 28, 2015 at 10:29 pm - Reply

      Hello Stephanie!!!!!! I think the reason he’s not napping as long at home is precisely *because* they’re helping him fall back at daycare. It’s often the case that kids sleep a lot better at school than at home, plus he’s totally enamored with you I’m sure so I don’t blame him for wanting to be awake with you 😉 I would say, however, it can’t hurt to move nap timing around a little bit, but I wouldn’t do it much earlier than noon. I don’t think nap timing is the culprit for short naps, but I wouldn’t worry about the short naps too much unless they’re greatly effecting his mood, esp if he’s at school getting good naps 3 or more days per week.

      • stephanie gyamfi December 29, 2015 at 6:48 am - Reply

        That makes so much sense! Thanks for the quick reply, Natalie! The teachers all sit in there with them so as soon as he stirs, they help him fall back asleep, whereas I’m home on a whole other floor so by the time I hear him, he is sitting up awake and not interesting in falling back asleep. Every so often, he will go back to sleep, so I usually let him cry for a bit to see if we have any luck. Usually not, but sometimes yes so I always try if he hasn’t reached the 75-90 min mark. We are planning to change his school schedule from 4 days a week to 3 days a week, so hopefully napping at home 4 days in a row will help work that out a bit. BUT I can’t complain because he does so well, thanks to YOU, at night and *all* night. I know a 2 year old who wakes for the day at 3 and 4am, after initially waking at 11pm! INSANITY 😉 So glad I posted because it’s always a comfort to learn from you, and I would never have guessed kids sleep better at school than in their own bed. Seems counter-intuitive like the whole going to bed later does NOT mean sleeping in 😉 Happy New Year to my Sleep Goddess 🙂

        • Natalie December 29, 2015 at 11:44 pm - Reply

          You are SO incredibly kind to me 🙂 And yes, it’s hard when you have friends and their kiddos aren’t sleeping :/

          • stephanie gyamfi December 30, 2015 at 8:19 am

            Seriously, you are amazing. I feel like every new parent needs to know about you 😉 Happy New Year!

  17. Weston April 5, 2016 at 3:47 pm - Reply

    Hi Natalie! I have a 8 month old that has been falling asleep on his own and consistently sleeping 11 hours through the night since he was 5 months old. Our problem is naps! He naps 3 times/day but they are very short naps – ~30-45 minutes in length. Also, he fights going down, only a bit, and he can’t seem to self-sooth himself back to sleep, nor can I. Do you have any tips for getting him to fall asleep for naps on his own, as he does for bedtime, and sleep longer? I’ve tried cutting down to 2 naps, but he’ll still only go down for <45 minutes. Thank you for any suggestions!

  18. Chris September 13, 2016 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    Hi Natalie! I got rid of the binky 2 weeks ago cold turkey. Wasn’t as traumatic (for either of us) as I thought it might be. So since then some naps and some nighttime sleeps she makes these zombie sounds and then passes out, sometimes she sucks her fingers, and other times – like tonight, she cries for 15 minutes before passing out. The first or second night she cried it out without the binky it lasted for 30 minutes!! But in general it’s getting better… I’m just concerned that 2 weeks into sleeping unassisted she’s crying for 15 minutes before falling asleep!! Anything I can do? Am I doing this wrong??

  19. Stephanie May 29, 2017 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    Hi Natalie,
    My husband and I have been having problems with all of the sleep schedules we find for a 6 month old. Our problem is that we are both teachers and we have to wake our little guy up by 5:45 to get to work on time. I feel like this has doomed us with a bad sleeper. He goes down to sleep usually on his own around 6:30, but will wake in the middle of the night. He also is not a great napper. He usually only takes naps for about an hour, which makes his schedule really difficult. Is it even possible to have a normal sleep and nap schedule with the early wake up time?

    • Natalie May 30, 2017 at 1:31 pm - Reply

      Hey!! I don’t think waking early would make him a bad sleeper. As long as he’s falling asleep 100% unassisted for naps and bedtime, he should be able to put himself back to sleep as he wakes throughout the night. That nap length of an hour seems right on for a kiddos his age. I would put him on a 6 am – 6 pm schedule, (or roughly that) with naps at 8 am/11 am /3 pm or so.

  20. Sian June 28, 2017 at 10:24 am - Reply

    My little boy is 12 weeks old (though born 10 days early) and takes 30 minute naps every time, unless I’m holding him when he will sleep much longer. I’ve been really worried that he’s not getting enough sleep during the day – he’s generally happy during the day, but I’m scared of him becoming overtired – and therefore have got into a habit of holding him for some naps during the day to make sure he gets enough sleep, but I don’t want to make this a bad habit. For all naps where he is put into his crib, he goes down awake as if he’s asleep and put down he wakes up anyway.
    I notice you say that he should have 5 naps, each one hour after waking? Due to the 30 minute naps I don’t know that he could only have 5 sleeps. Should I try to extend each nap for 30 minutes and then begin 1 hour of wake time? Or do I get him up after 30 minutes and put him down an hour later?
    He has a bedtime routine at 7, and is in bed for 7:30. We put him down awake, with a dummy and he sleeps all night with one night feeding about 3ish.

    This afternoon has been a real battle to get him to have a nap in the crib – he really cried both at 2:30 and at 4. My husband thinks he should be left to cry it out and it is because he wants us to hold him (and thinks all babies just fall asleep when they’re tired), but I think he’s just overtired and struggling to get to sleep by himself, therefore needing the extra comfort of a cuddle to get off to sleep. I’m at a loss over how to help him get enough sleep in the day without making these bad habits.

  21. Michelle July 10, 2017 at 8:59 am - Reply

    My daughter is 3 months old and has been sleeping through the night (8-9 hrs) since about 7 weeks. I started back to work a month ago and we have a wake up time at 6am so I can nurse before I leave for work. She then will go back to sleep about 7am and sleep until she’s woken up at 9-9:30 to eat. We try to stick to a eat, play, sleep routine through the day but in the afternoons she has a harder time napping and usually wakes up after just 1-20 mins into a nap. We just switched to a 3.5 hours schedule and she goes to sleep now about 8PM. Should I lengthen her nighttime sleep (earlier bedtime or later wakeup) ? she seems so tired in the mornings and I feel like her morning nap is going too long…

  22. iletisim February 23, 2018 at 3:11 am - Reply

    Hi Natalie, great post.

    I definitely see the benefit of having “set sleep times” vs acting on “age based awake times” can create a lot of chaos.

    And then there is this idea of “over-tiredness triggering cortisol hormone” and making babies/kids fall asleep more difficult and stay asleep more difficult (not sure if any research on that)

    With set sleep times, even if they don’t sleep long enough, we still need to keep them awake till next sleep time, with the risk of this “getting overtired/triggering cortisol” idea.

    Is this overtiredness/cortisol thing a big deal during both during sleep training and after the self soothing skill is learned?


    • Natalie Willes February 23, 2018 at 1:51 pm - Reply

      Hi iletisim! Great question. I think the idea of over tiredness triggering cortisol is a theory, and not really one that has been solidly proven. If you can share any studies that speak to the issue in babies, I would love to see them. I’m totally familiar with the concept of using wake times to prevent over tiredness, I just don’t agree that “over tiredness” is a real thing. I think people are tired, or really really tired, but that there is no such thing as over tiredness in infants aged 4 months of age or older.

  23. iletisim February 24, 2018 at 12:41 am - Reply

    Thanks Natalie, I read information regarding how fatigue can produce cortisol, so that may also apply to babies however, I think this “overtired/cortisol” information is more directed to parents who have really late bedtimes or too much stretched awake times regularly. Then it makes sense for the child to have chronic tiredness which might create sleep problems.

    But if a baby has age appropriate naps regularly, I don’t observe that keeping them awake almost till set sleep times if they miss a nap or something create a sleep problem although yes they might become agitated till bedtime.

    That’s my take at least.

    When you mention the timings for sleep times, are these the times that you recommend that the baby needs to be in bed, or needs to be asleep? I am assuming the first because it’s not in our control when they will fall asleep after we place them in bed.

    • Natalie Willes February 26, 2018 at 2:21 pm - Reply

      Yes, there is a ton of information online, but I would not assume it is reliable unless the article you’re reading contains actual links to the original studies the information the article is based on. The times I recommend are when babies should be in bed, not asleep.

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