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Nap Schedules By Age

Nap Schedules By Age

It’s common for parents to worry that their little one isn’t getting enough sleep, but few are taught what to expect in that regard. Having a sense of “what’s normal” is an important first step in developing a plan for improving your child’s sleep. You want to be sure you are asking your baby or toddler to do something he or she is capable of doing!  In the summer of 2016, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine established new guidelines for the number of sleep 0-5-year-olds should get each day:

  • Infants 4–12 months: 12–16 hours total in 24 hours 
  • Children 1–2 years: 11–14 hours total in 24 hours 
  • Children 3–5 years: 10–13 hours total in 24 hours

As you can see, this is a wide range! Your 4-year-old will most likely need far less sleep in a day than he or she did at 6 months old. Use the following charts as a guide for helping you determine age-appropriate schedules and expectations for your baby or toddler. 

Note: Be sure to adjust for prematurity! For the purposes of understanding sleep development, calculate your child’s age based on his or her due date, rather than the actual birth date. 

​​The following are the most common sleep schedules by age, but please see the new guidelines listed above and talk to your child’s pediatrician to determine your child’s individual needs. 

 

Day Sleep

Age of Baby: 0–4 Months

Number of Naps: On-demand (usually 4–5)

  •   Nap Spacing:

45–120 minutes awake time between naps. Nap irregularity in frequency and duration is common at this age.

  •   Day Sleep Notes:

No schedule yet; keep baby rested. Avoid over-tiredness and long stretches of wakefulness. Don’t be afraid to soothe your baby: He or she needs sleep! Single sleep cycle naps (30–45 mins) are common in the second half of this phase.

  •   Approximate Total Day Sleep:
  • Many babies will sleep 15–16 hours in 24 hours during the first 2–3 months, then decreases to more like 14–15 hours around 3–4 months old.

 

Age of Baby: 4–6 Months

Number of Naps: 4 down to 3

  • Nap Spacing:

At 4 months old, single sleep cycle naps (30–45 minutes) are still normal. By 5–6 months of age, babies are capable of lengthening naps, though may need nap assistance to learn that skill. 2–2.5 hours awake time between naps. On the 3-nap schedule, the third nap is the shortest (30–45 mins).

  •   Day Sleep Notes:

The schedule is emerging. Prioritize your baby’s naps, paying attention to sleep location and environment now. Start your day at a regular time (within a consistent 30-minute window). Work toward a 3-nap schedule with longer wake times between the naps by 6 months (see next section).

  •   Approximate Total Day Sleep:
  • 3–4.5 hours

 

Age of Baby: 6–9 Months

Number of Naps: 3 down to 2

  •   Nap Spacing:

3-nap schedule: 2–2.5 hours between naps

2-nap schedule: Ladder schedule (2-3-4): Time awake increases over the course of the day, with approximately 2, then 3, then 4 hours between each sleep session, starting with morning wake-up.

  •   Day Sleep Notes:

The schedule is solidifying; keep bed and wake times regular. With three good naps, night sleep may condense (night shortens, typically later bedtime). When naps transition from 3 to 2, night sleep increases (earlier bedtime). Use a ladder-style schedule of increasing stretches of wakefulness after each nap.

  •   Approximate Total Day Sleep:
  • 3–4  hours

 

Age of Baby: 9–15 Months

Number of Naps: 2 naps until approximately 12–15 months, then transition to 1 nap  

  • Nap Spacing: 

2 naps (typical schedule):

Wake up

Approximately 2.5 hours awake

Nap

3+ hours awake

Nap

Approximately 4+ hours awake

Bedtime

 

  •   1 nap (typical schedule): 

Wake up

4–6 hours awake

Nap

4–5 hours awake

Bedtime

*May have catnaps before or after main nap during the transition from two naps to one.

  •     Day Sleep Notes:

Night shortens (later bedtimes) before the 2-1 nap transition. Night lengthens (earlier bedtime) after the 2-1 nap transition. Keep bed/wake times regular, but compensate with earlier bedtimes when needed for over-tiredness.

  •   Approximate Total Day Sleep:
  • 3 + hrs up to 12 months, then down to 2–2.5+/- hours with nap transition. 

 

Age of Child: 15–36 Months

Number of Naps: 1  

  • Nap Spacing:

Wake up

4–6 hours awake

Nap

5+ hours awake

Bedtime

  Day Sleep Notes:

After transitioning to one nap, which may take several weeks, you can expect a long period of regularity. Be careful of catnaps. Be careful of late naps plus early bedtimes, which can lead to early morning wake-ups. A napping 3 years old will have a shorter night than a napping 18-month-old.

  •   Approximate Total Day Sleep:
  • 2+ hours

 

Age of Child: 36+ Months

Number of Naps: 1 to 0  

  • Nap Spacing:

Wake up

6+ hours awake

Nap

5–6 hours awake

Bedtime

 Day Sleep Notes:

Naps are still very beneficial at this age, even though nights will shorten quite a bit with a napping preschooler. Allow enough wake time in the afternoon/evening to rebuild sleep pressure for a smoother bedtime.

  •   Approximate Total Day Sleep:
  • 1–2 hours

 

Night Sleep

Below are general guidelines for healthy babies. Some families may choose and enjoy more wakings and more feedings than shown, which is completely fine.

Age of Baby: 0–4 Months

The number of Feedings/Wakings:

On-demand under 3 months. After 3 months, usually 2–3 feedings per night after the first 4–5 hour stretch of sleep.

  •   Night Sleep Notes:

Bedtimes are late and erratic in the first 2–3 months, but drift earlier and regulate around the third month. The first third of the night consolidates around 3 months. The last third remains erratic. Some babies will sleep long 7–9 hour stretches in the first 3 months, which often changes suddenly around 4 months (read more about the four-month regression). Swaddling is essential until the baby shows signs of rolling. Start good sleep hygiene (dark, cool, quiet room) around 7–10 weeks.

  •   Total Night Sleep: 9–11 hours
  • Approximate total sleep in 24 hours: 15–16 hours

 

Age of Baby: 4–6 Months

The number of Feedings/Wakings:

1-2 feedings after first 5–8 hour stretch of sleep

  •   Night Sleep Notes:

Regular bed and wake times, with well-consolidated sleep before first and second feedings. Ensure an ideal sleep environment. Stop swaddle with rolling. Avoid dream feedings. The last third of the night remains erratic. Four- (or 5- or 6-) month regression is common. Sleep training may begin if desired.

  •   Total Night Sleep: 10–12 hours
  • Approximate total sleep in 24 hours: 13.5–15 hours (If your baby is sleeping 4 hours during the day, it is unlikely s/he will do a 12-hour night.)

 

Age of Baby: 6–9 Months

The number of Feedings/Wakings:

7–9 hours without feeding, then 0–1 feeding

  •   Night Sleep Notes:

Older babies who are still taking three average-length naps will almost certainly not sleep 12 hours at night. Night lengthens (earlier bedtime) when the third nap drops. Full night consistency is developing through the last third of the night. Babies are old enough to find pacifiers around 7–8 months old.

  •   Total Night Sleep: 10.5–12 hours
  • Approximate total sleep in 24 hours: 13.5–15 hours

 

Age of Baby: 9–15 Months

The number of Feedings/Wakings:

Parents’ choice. May be helpful to have one feeding in the last third of the night for extended breastfeeding.

  •   Night Sleep Notes:

Separation anxiety and developmental milestones may cause new regressions.

  •   Total Night Sleep: 10.5–12 hours
  • Approximate total sleep in 24 hours: 13–14 hours

 

Age of Child: 15–36 Months

The number of Feedings/Wakings:

Parents’ choice. Early morning feeding may help with extended breastfeeding.

  •   Night Sleep Notes:

A long period of regularity. Fears and bedtime battles may appear.

  •   Total Night Sleep: 10–12 hours
  • Approximate total sleep in 24 hours: 12–14 hours

 

Age of Child: 36+ Months 

The number of Feedings/Wakings: Parents’ choice.

  •   Night Sleep Notes: 

Non-napping preschoolers need at least 11 hours of night sleep. Napping preschoolers may sleep only 11–12 hours total in 24 hours.

  •   Total Night Sleep: 9–11+ hours
  • Approximate total sleep in 24 hours: ~11 hours

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