How much does my baby need to nap?

I remember when I had my first born and prior to training as a Sleep Coach, I literally had no idea that there is a recommended amount of sleep for children. I just thought a baby would sleep when they wanted to, like many of us as adults.

I’m going to share with you the ideal times for napping for your baby. Keep reading for the optimum time.

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The problem was, he never seemed to want to or know how to sleep during the day. At the time, I just assumed he didn’t need to. However, after working with a Sleep Consultant ourselves, I quickly understood the importance of day time naps for a child’s overall sleep quality.

I know it seems logical to you as an adult that if your baby sleeps a lot during the day that they will wake up more during the night-time. However, science tells us that in fact this works completely the other way around.

Nap and awake time guide

AgeAwake Window (Recommended time awake)Number of Naps
0-6 weeks30-60 minutesFrequently throughout the day
6-12 weeks1-1.25 hoursVarious throughout the day
3-4 months1.25-1.75 hours4-6 naps
4-5 months1.5-2.25 hours4 naps
5-6 months1.5-2.5 hours3-4 naps
6-7 months2-2.75 hours3 naps
7-8 months2.25-3 hours3 naps
8-9 months2.5-3 hours2-3 naps
9-10 months2.5-3.5 hours2 naps
10-12 months3-4 hours2 naps

 
Sleep Pressure

As a human, you have something called sleep pressure - it is like the brain’s signal and need for sleep. When you wake up in the morning after a full night’s sleep (okay yes I know it has been a while), your sleep pressure tank is empty. As the day goes by, and you become more active, the sleep pressure starts to build up. Once it is almost full, this is the optimum time to go to sleep before you become overtired.

If you go to sleep once you are overtired, your cortisol levels (awake hormone) are raised to keep you pushing through. Which is why you may get the feeling of being high, extra alert, on edge or wired. This makes it very difficult to fall and stay asleep.

This is exactly the same for children including babies. The purpose of a nap for a baby, is to release some of the sleep pressure so that they go to bed at night tired rather than overtired.

Overtired Baby

Your overtired baby maybe cranky, screaming when you try to put them down to sleep, crashing out to sleep but waking multiple times through the night or waking before 6am. Or you may have a baby like we did, who is a silent overtired baby, which makes it tricky to know when he or she actually tired.

Which is where a nap guide is useful to bear in mind, because the age of your baby determines the length and frequency of naps that they need.

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What next for helping your baby nap

There are my recommendations on how much your baby needs to nap during the day. If you are struggling with your baby taking naps, then don’t worry, come join us at The No Sleep Club. Here you will find unlimited sleep support and advice for just £29 per month.