How many naps should a baby take?
Newborns sleep for 2 to 4 hours at a time. You shouldn’t expect much of a pattern for the first 2 months. Let your baby sleep as much as they want.
- When baby gets to 6 to 8 weeks, they start consolidating their naps so as to sleep for longer less often.
Keep in mind that natural rhythms determine how well your baby naps. Some nap for long stretches and easily settle into a pattern while others do just fine with short naps at not so regular times
- By 18 months, the morning nap will be given up completely but a snooze in the afternoon will provide a welcome break. This pattern will continue until your child is 4 or 5 years old.
While the above is typical, not all children follow the same pattern. Every baby has unique sleeping habits
By the time your baby reaches 3 to 4 months, then you can start to pay attention to their sleep signals and chart a schedule.
- Does he start to get fussy or rub his eyes? Does he fall asleep in the late afternoon? Does his mood change when he sleeps for long periods?
Keep a record for a week or two to see your baby’s patterns so you can anticipate naps
For example, if your baby gets cranky and ready to nap by 10 every morning, you can ease him into it before he gets overtired. Start 15 to 20 minutes before you expect his sleep signals to show up – feed, change, and rock him quietly, turn down the lights, and keep your voice low. That way he’s already on the road to sleep when that tired feeling overtakes him.
Consistency is vital. If your baby already follows a schedule at daycare, follow a similar schedule on the weekends when at home with you.
Its impossible to arrange your household so that the activities revolve around your child’s nap schedule. Naps will be skipped or delayed from time to time as life happens. It’s easy to get back on track if you already have a schedule in place.
It will require trial and error, be patient.
Developing a nap ritual
Nap rituals help babies wind down and prepare to rest. a nap ritual should be similar to your bedtime ritual, only shorter.
Let your child nap in the same place they sleep. This helps them associate the bed with going to sleep.
Your baby may be a natural catnapper, consistently napping for less than an hour at a time. As long as she doesn’t seem too tired, fussy, or difficult during waking hours, she’s getting the sleep she needs.
When did your baby get on a nap schedule? Have they settled into a regular routine?
First published at babycenter.com