Naps. The bane of your existence?? No way! Read this post for all the information you need to know about your child's naps.
Why are nap schedules important?
A nap schedule is a regular routine of naps your child takes throughout the day. It can be helpful to know what averages are, by age, to optimize your child's daytime and nighttime sleep.
This is important to know because when we don't follow our natural sleep patterns (and your child's are certainly different than yours because of all the growth and development that's occurring at such a rapid pace! Their sleep is largely driven by two systems in the body - their circadian rhythm and homeostatic processes.), it can lead to problems like insomnia, fatigue, and heightened levels of cortisol due to overtiredness.
The 4-Nap Schedule (3-4 Months)
The 4-nap schedule is common for babies around 3-4 months old. It's also helpful if your baby has been sleeping well and you want to keep them on track since you're working to prevent overtiredness throughout the day by offering more naps.
The 4-nap schedule consists of four naps per day: one in the morning, one in the later morning or around lunchtime, a mid-late afternoon nap, and another short catnap in the evening if needed (this last one may not happen as your little one's sleep needs change).
The 3-Nap Schedule (4-6/9 Months)
The 3-nap schedule is the most common nap schedule for children between 4 months and 6-9 months of age. The 3-nap schedule works well for babies because it allows them to sleep longer during their morning nap while still giving them two shorter naps later in the day.
I LOVE the 3-nap schedule because it's flexible and easy to manipulate. Need to go to a doctor's appointment and the only available time is naptime?? That's okay! You can easily make up for missed sleep later in the day or have a nap on-the-go without stressing that your little one will be overtired later.
The 2-Nap Schedule (6/9-14/15 Months)
The 2-nap schedule is the most typical nap schedule for older infants and toddlers. This schedule works best for kids who are 6/9 months old through 14/15 months old. Some babies will even stay on this schedule until closer to 18 months.
The 1-Nap Schedule (14/15 Months to 3/4/5 Years)
The 1-nap schedule is the most typical nap schedule for toddlers and big kids who still can't quite make it a full day awake. Most kids will be ready to fully drop the nap by 2.5-3.5 years old, but some will continue to nap until they go to school full time.
It's important not to rush this transition, as some children still do need naps due to their brain development.
The Benefits of Keeping a Consistent Nap Schedule
Your child's circadian rhythm will stay regulated when sleep is offered at the same times each day. This is beneficial for you, too, as an adult. If you go to bed at the same time each night, you may find that you're rising around the same time every day without the need for an alarm clock. Followinig your boody's natural rhythms ensures that you're getting the highest quality sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and fully rested. It's the same for your child!
Tips for Creating and Maintaining a Nap Schedule
First, grab our FREE Sleep Needs Chart. Using this chart, you'll be able to identify the ideal schedule for your child based on their age. You can tweak this based on what your child is showing you they're capable of - or not - when it comes to total sleep in 24 hours.
Once you've found your child's sweet spot, be consistent with it! Things will be "off" again as their sleep needs change, but don't rush to make a change too quickly. I recommend waiting a full 2 weeks before deciding to make a schedule change.
When to Drop a Nap
If you think your child is ready to drop a nap, double check here first.
Then, give it time. Nap transitions can take weeks, 2-6 weeks depending on your child's age and the specific transition you're going through.
Be patient, and before you know it, your child will be happy and sleeping well again on their new schedule.
There are many benefits to keeping a consistent nap schedule. The most obvious is that it will help your child get the rest they need. If your child is taking naps at different times every day, their body will feel stressed because there is no set rhythm to their sleep patterns.
Not sure about how to navigate your child's schedule or sleep and need some help?? That's what we do! Learn more about our services and how we can help you.