I know. Some of you are probably laughing hysterically at the title of today’s article. Too much nap time sleep?! Lots of you would probably give anything to have that the problem in your house!
And we understand that. Most of the parents we work with have babies and toddlers who struggle with nap time sleep, and who need to take longer, more restorative naps. Those babies and toddlers desperately need a solid daytime nap schedule to help them get the nap time sleep they need.
Still, a number of parents end up asking themselves the “is my child sleeping too much?” question at one point or another. After all, a baby or toddler who spends long periods napping each day may not have time to work on the gross motor and cognitive skills they need to be developing. And, a baby or toddler who naps a lot could wake more frequently at night.
So, how much nap time sleep is too much? Let’s answer that.
Nap Time Sleep in the Newborn Stage (Birth – 4 months)
Here’s the thing to remember about newborns: they sleep A LOT, and that’s fine. At this stage, it’s very normal for newborns to sleep anywhere from 14 – 18 total hours during the day, and for their wake time to be an hour to 30 minutes (or even less.) As your baby grows, this wake time should lengthen, and their total amount of sleep should gradually decrease.
For these reasons, our general recommendation to parents of newborns is to let the baby sleep as long as she needs to, and to not impose any kind of rigid schedule. That said, there are two times that we recommend parents wake their newborns from long naps. First, you’ll want to wake your newborn from long sleep if your newborn seems to have day/night confusions. In order to help your newborn sort out day and night, he needs to be awake during the day for his internal clock, or circadian rhythms, to adjust to life outside the womb. Therefore, our consultants recommend limiting one nap to two hours and keep your baby up for at least 30 minutes to an hour to help “reset” his clock.
Second, you’ll want to wake your newborn from long sleep if he is not waking to feed. It’s normal for newborns to have one longish stretch of sleep each day (hopefully it happens at night!), but aside from that, your newborn should wake every 2-3 hours to feed. If your newborn isn’t waking this often to feed, then wake him yourself; it’s important that newborns eat round the clock in order to grow properly.
Nap Time Sleep in the Baby Stage (4-12 months)
Starting around 4 months (could be 3 months for some babies, or 5 months for others), you’ll notice your baby’s sleep patterns start to change. Your baby will start spending more time awake and less time asleep. This is normal. In fact, there’s a name for it — the 4 month sleep regression!
When your baby is sleeping 13-15 hours per day, this is within normal ranges for a very long time. If your baby is sleeping less, this may or may not be enough sleep. Depending on your baby’s age, a typical baby will sleep 11-12 hours at night and 2-3 hours during the day. Since averages are just those, your baby may indeed need more like 12 hours at night and 4 hours of sleep during the day. This is unlikely to be a cause for concern. It is a lot of sleep, but a great 12-hour night sleeper and two two-hour naps are fantastic and there is still enough up-time to learn all the wonderful skills such as rolling, crawling, walking, and talking. She likely needs more time to process all of it and simply needs more sleep than other babies her age. Watching her behavior when she is up is a good sign everything is okay.
However, what should you do if your baby is napping too much, and that’s causing her to wake too frequently at night? Remember that after the newborn stage, your baby’s napping should not surpass 3 hours total for a day, on average. Of course, there will be exceptions, but many times if naps get too long during the day, it will impact night sleep, since the amount of total sleep in a day will remain relatively constant. If you feel bad waking your baby because she is sleeping horribly at night, but let her make up a lot of lost sleep during the day, it could reinforce the very sleep problems you are trying to resolve at night. It can become a chicken and egg problem. Instead, you should solve the night sleep problem and keep naps properly balanced. After all, night sleep is more restorative.
Nap Time Sleep in the Toddler Stage (12 months – 3 or 4 years)
As your little one enters toddlerhood, his sleep needs will gradually begin to decrease. At this point, most of his sleep should be happening at night, and he should be awake for most of the day. Naps will still happen, of course, but the large majority of his sleep should occur at night.
But remember, just as it’s normal to have toddlers who can sleep 12 hours at night and take a 3 hour nap, there are also toddlers who sleep 11-12 hours at night and take a 1-2 hour nap. Again, there is a wide range of “normal” and the only reason for concern would be if your toddler sleeps so much that she doesn’t have time for gross motor activity or spending awake time with you where she can learn to communicate and other life skills.
However, if you find that your toddler is taking extremely lengthy naps each day, and isn’t sleeping well at night, you may need to wake him from those naps. You may also want to consider waking your child at the same time each morning, even if he’s had a sleepless night the night before. If you have a toddler schedule that is being thrown off with a long night-waking, or insomnia, in the middle of the night, the worst thing you can do is let her sleep in the next morning. Now, I don’t mean one-off day here or there. Of course, then, you’d let her sleep in. What I mean is if your toddler is staying awake for long periods night after night, you need to be proactive and help her sort out her schedule. Although there are a few exceptions, long waking at night is usually caused by a schedule problem, especially if she is sleeping enough, but in multiple fragments. When you let her sleep in, this only exacerbates the schedule problem.
All in all, having a good daytime schedule will go a long way towards helping your child sleep through the night.
A Reminder: Follow Your Instincts, and Seek Medical Care if Necessary
We can’t end the article without saying this: there are cases (rare though they may be) in which too much sleep can signal an underlying medical problem. So parents, follow your instincts. If you know your baby or toddler is sleeping too much, and you think a medical condition might be to blame, don’t hesitate to see a healthcare provider.
If You Need Sleep Help, We Are Here For You!
Schedule problems are SO frustrating – all of us who at The Baby Sleep Site® know that first-hand, because we’re all parents! Fortunately for you, we’re here to help. If you’re struggling with nap schedules and napping issues, our consultants are ready to help you! Browse our list of consultation packages, and choose one that suits your needs.
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Has too much nap time sleep ever been a problem at your house? How have you coped? Share your tips with our readers!
58 thoughts on “Is Your Baby or Toddler Napping Too Much?”
My 7 month old is a champion napper but not so great at sleeping at night. He has 2 wakes and for one of those wakes frequently stays awake for 1.75 hrs. On average he gets 9.5 hrs sleep at night, waking any time from 5am – 7:30 am (depending on bedtime the previous night and how long he’s stayed awake during his wake ups). Whilst his naps have changed over the last couple of months, night has always been the same.
He was a very tired newborn, always sleeping lots during the day and having very small wake times. In fact he was 6 months old before he went from 4 naps to 3, and that was because I forced him to rather than because he began fighting the final nap.
Anyway, when he was on 4 naps a day he had 3.5 hrs of naps a day (3 x 1hr and 1 half hr nap) and I had to wake him from all his naps. When he first went down to 3 naps he was having 4hrs of naps a day (1hr, 2hrs, 1hr) and again I had to wake him from all his naps. The reason I let him have so much is that his wake times were only 2 hrs and any more he got overtired and grumpy.
I’ve been working on stretching his wake times and managed now to reduce his final nap to half an hr, so he’s back to having 3.5hrs of naps. He would still go to sleep after 2 hrs if I let him but he can now go 2.25 hrs between naps and still nap properly without waking from overtiredness (though bedtime is only 2 hrs after the third nap and he often cries during the bedtime routine because he’s tired).
I know I need to continue stretching his wake times to allow me to reduce his nap times during the day. My question is which of his naps should I focus on reducing? I’ve read different things about whether the first nap or the lunchtime nap is most important and I’ve tried reducing both before and whichever one I reduce he gets grumpy in the period after it and the wake time to his next nap reduces.
Hi @Lynn – Thanks for writing and sorry that you’re struggling with those night wakings! I think you are on the right track in reducing the last nap of the day, as this can often be a short nap just to make it to bedtime! You might want to play around with which nap can be reduced a little, and be sure that the naps and bedtimes are at good times for him! Our free sample schedules can help! Here is a link:
If things don’t smooth out, please contact us for more info on our products and services that can further help you! Hang in there Lynn!
Hi, my baby is 11months old. She has always been a great sleeper and was sleeping 12hrs at night without waking well before 3 months. I’m worried as she is now getting much bigger but still sleeping a lot in the day. She can sleep 12-13hrs at night and then still take two 2hr naps during the day. Or 3 naps amounting to 4-5hrs. I have tried keeping her up longer between naps to reduce them but she gets really grumpy cries and falls over all the time when she is tired. She eats well and has hit all milestones for her age. When she is awake she is very active, walking everywhere, playing and a very happy baby. When I see signs that she is tired I just bring ber up to her bed and put her down, she does not whine she will just go to sleep on her own. So I think she is happy to go to sleep. Should I just let her sleep as much as she does? Or should I wake her or try to reduce her sleep? If so, how can I go about doing this?
Hi @Vnini – Thanks for writing, and congrats on having a baby that is a great sleeper! Yay! Sleep needs can vary widely, so if your worried that she may be napping too much or sleeping too much, it may just be her normal! If she is growing and developing well, and has plenty of playtime when awake, this is likely her typical sleep pattern! If you’re concerned, you can always ask her pediatrician to weigh in too. Thanks again for writing!
Hello. My baby is 13 months old. Almost 14 actually. He is sleeping 2 naps one hour each because i cut him. He is sleeping 11 hrs at night. But I would like to know how long should I continue to waking him up? If I dont cut the nap he will be sleeping at night at 10 pm lol. Now he goes 8 30 pm and wakes up at 7 30 am. Before his 1 year birthday he was sleeping from 7 pm to 5 am. Napping twice for 2 hrs.
@Jamie – Thank you for reading and for sharing with us. Knowing when to wake your toddler can be a bit confusing especially if you’re finding yourself having to wake him on a regular basis. You could review his schedule to make sure his sleep and wake times are the best for him to be sleeping. If so, and he’s sleeping well, there’s no real reason to change his schedule or how he sleeps until it presents itself as a problem. If you find you need further support in developing his sleep schedule, please consider our e-Book Mastering Naps and Schedules and/or reaching out to one of our lovely sleep consultants who would welcome the opportunity to serve your family. You can read more about them here: https://www.babysleepsite.com/about Hang in there, Jamie!
I’ve been waking my 11 months old from every single nap (1.5h in morning and 1h in afternoon) for the last 2 weeks in order to make him sleep longer at night / not have him awake for 1 to 1.5 hours in the middle of the night. The night sleep is from 8 pm to 6 am now, which is a bit better than before, and he wakes up 3 times at night (he wakes every hour but only needs assistance 3 times). I feel bad waking him from naps because he is tired every day. How long do I have to wake him from naps to get him sleep a little bit more at night? Or are there babies who just naturally only need 9h at night but 4h during the day?
Hi @Brigitte, thanks for writing to us. I’m sorry to hear you’ve been struggling with few hours of night time sleep. Have you tried (just to see) what would happen if you let him wake up naturally from his naps? He may sometimes need a longer, more restorative naps which MIGHT (note: MIGHT) help his night time sleep improve. Crazily enough, if a child is not getting enough sleep during the day it can often make night time sleep less restorative too. Here is a link to a sample schedule for an 11 month old’s schedule that may help as well: https://www.babysleepsite.com/schedules/11-month-old-schedule/
If you need more help with figuring this out, I’m confident our sleep consultants can look into this further and give you more specific advise on your situation. Here is a link to read more about working with one of our consultants: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-toddler-sleep-consulting-services/
I hope this helps give you a good starting point and things begin to improve soon!
I have a 2.5 month old who takes 2 hour naps (I wake him at the 2 hour mark) and has a wake time of 1 hour. I noticed that his wake time is starting to stretch. Should I continue to let him nap for 2 hours per nap and allow him to stretch his wake time?
Currently i wake him at 730am. He is up for 45 min and then goes back down at 815. I wake him at 1015 and he goes down at 1115. I wake him at 115 and he goes down at 215. I wake him at 415 and he goes down at 515. Then I wake him at 645 and put him down for the night at 745pm. He wakes for a couple of feedings (first one between 1 and 2am) and I usually wake him up if he doesn’t wake before 5am for his second feeding in fear that he would wake for the morning if his feeding is at 6am.
If his wake time stretches, should I start cutting his naps to 1.5 hours instead? Or should I allow him to maintain his 2 hour naps and start dropping his last nap? If he naps for 2 hours and his wake time stretches, it is hard to get a feeding in every 3 hours.
Also, should I continue to wake him to nurse at 5am until his first motn feeding goes to 3/4am or should I let his natural pattern emerge?
Hi @Eva, thanks for writing to us. It sounds like you’ve got quite a good little sleeper and schedule over there! It sounds completely normal to me that he would be trying to stretch his wake time a bit during the day. I’d still cap the wake time to no more than 2 hours and you may find there are certain times of the day he can stay up longer than others he still may need the 1 hour (such as the morning, I found my kids always were so ready for their morning nap and it felt like it was almost right after waking up). Here is a sample for a 3 month schedule that you can take a look at and it will tell you how much sleep your baby needs in a 24 hour period: https://www.babysleepsite.com/schedules/3-month-old-baby-sleep-and-feeding-schedule/
I’m sure as you read it you’ll find some things really relate to you and your baby, and others don’t. For instance, it doesn’t sound like your son catnaps much at all, so if you want you can check out our sample schedules for a 5/6 month old and see what a schedule with a consolidated nap schedule looks like, just remember to go off the feeding/sleep needs of the 3 month schedule, not a 5/6 month schedule. Additionally if you find any changes happen that feel like he’s regressing, that may be the case and is also totally normal around the 3.5/4 month range. I hope this helps! If you have more questions, please let us know!
Thanks for your response. My concern isn’t about capping wake time but rather capping his naps. I am already capping his naps at 2 hours. I’m unsure if I should be capping it now at 1.5 hours to allow him to have more wake time and to allow him to continue feeding every 3 hours? Or do I just let him nap as long as he wish and give him a longer wake time making it so his bed time is much later? Thanks!
Hi @Eva, thanks for getting back to me! I’m part of our Client Relations Team, and not a sleep consultant, so I do want to be upfront about that. 😉 I personally would let the naps go and see what happened since he is such a great napper (I would wake him up if the last nap went too long and would mess up bed time). He may be trying to jump to just 3 naps a day which would probably be nice for you! I would advise making sure you cap the wake time at some point so he doesn’t become overtired, and usually that’s around 1.5/2 hours as we both (I think) mentioned in our previous comments. If you want more specific advise than what I can provide, I think you’d probably really enjoy joining our Members Area. It will give you access to exclusive articles as well as access to all of our ebooks and tele-seminars. We also have a weekly chat there where you can log in and chat live with a sleep consultant and they would for sure be able to answer these scheduling questions with more knowledge than I am able. Here is a link to read more about our Members Area subscription if you’re interested in using that as a deeper resource: https://www.babysleepsite.com/diy/
Hope this helps!
My 13 month old sleeps approximately 11 hrs at night, waking to nurse once. She still takes two naps (one morning, one afternoon). Today each were almost 2 hours, totaling her at almost 4 hrs of napping today. She is teething, she is little (15th percentile for weight, 5th for height), and is not yet walking (cruising a lot, but not walking without holding on to a hand. Is this ok?
Hi Amy –
Thank you for writing! There is a wide range of sleep needs at this age, and if your baby happy and is growing and developing well, there is likely no need to change things right now! If you are at all concerned about her sleeping too much, or worried at all about her development in any way, do check in with your baby’s doctor, for your peace of mind! We wish you all the best, and thanks again for visiting!
My 17 month old baby girl sleeps 15 hours per night and still gets a 2 hour nap around 2pm. This has been her schedule for several months and she seems to be hitting all her milestones, no obvious problems or issues, I just feel like that’s an awful lot of sleeping… My logic is that if she’s sleeping that long without waking, then apparently she must need it. Maybe I’m wrong? Just a little worried and could use input. Thank you.
Hi @Bridget Niemi, thanks for writing to us. You have quite the sleeper! At 17 months some babies actually still are taking 2 naps, so it sounds like your daughter may be adding that first nap into her nighttime sleep, and then her actual nap is the “second nap”. Since you mentioned she is still hitting her milestones and I assume gaining weight properly that leads me to believe you’ve spoken to her doctor as well, and if there are no concerns I wouldn’t worry too much about it (again just make sure you have asked her doctor as well). I hope that helps!
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