How Many Naps Does Your Baby or Toddler Actually Need?

How Many Baby Toddler Naps

Napping is a hot topic around The Baby Sleep Site®, and it’s no wonder: most of us count nap time as our favorite time of the day! Of course, naps are essential for the health and development of your baby, but don’t count yourself out — you need a little downtime during the day, too! And naps offer the perfect opportunity for you to get a little breather.

One of the most popular questions we get around here (aside from “How can I get my baby to nap longer?”) is “How many naps does my baby/toddler need each day?”

All babies are different and your baby will develop at a different pace than other babies the same age. Even twins develop at a different pace, sometimes! Just like some babies will walk first and some babies talk first, the age at which your baby will transition to fewer naps will vary, too.

Newborns and Naps

In those first few months after your baby is born, it’s best not to worry much about a napping schedule. Your baby’s brain is developing, central nervous system maturing, and sleep is organizing. As we’ve previously shared:

In the beginning, your newborn sleeps most of the time and you don’t usually have to worry too much about naps. Your newborn’s sleep schedule and patterns are highly unpredictable, usually, so it’s hard to tell if she will have 5 naps or 8 on any given day. You’ve just given birth (or partnered the birth), so as long as she sorts out the difference between day and night, you probably won’t stress too much about it unless she isn’t “sleeping like a baby.”

Once your newborn has become more social, you may begin to have more napping challenges. You may also want more predictability in your day. This won’t come easily for some babies, depending on age, but you can begin focusing on getting your baby to nap better and get on a schedule, especially if your baby won’t nap at all. No naps or short naps can lead to fussiness (for you and baby!) and make it difficult for your baby to sleep through the night.

How Many Naps Do Babies and Toddlers Need?

Here are some guidelines for how many naps your baby or toddler likely needs:

  • From 1-4 months, the number of naps your baby takes will be variable but will hover around 4-5 naps per day, depending on how long his naps are and how long he can stay up between naps.
  • By 3 or 4 months old, she will lean towards just 4 naps, rather than 5.
  • From 5-8 months, most babies will have three naps per day (though my son had four until after 7 months). They will start to resist the fourth nap, no matter how tired they are. There are a few babies who will only have two naps at a very young age, but those naps are usually long.
  • From 9-15 or 18 months, on average, your baby will nap two times a day. Although many people believe most babies can transition to one nap at 12 months, the average age is actually 15 to 18 months.
  • From 18 months to 4 years, toddlers nap once a day. The age to transition away from all napping varies a lot, from 2 to 5+ years old, but the average age is between 3 and 4 years old.

Remember, these are general guidelines and all babies are different. We have seen a few 10 month olds taking just one nap while others are taking three naps, still. Your baby’s sleep needs will vary. You should also know that a nap should be at least an hour to be considered restorative, except for any third or fourth nap of the day, which are almost always catnaps of about 30-45 minutes each.

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My Baby/Toddler Won’t Nap — Help!

bss_ebook_7napmistakes_left-transShort or non-existent baby naps can be so frustrating – but you don’t have to suffer through them! We have a ton of nap resources – and one of those nap resources is our free guide, 7 Common Napping Mistakes. Are you making any of these common nap mistakes? If so, they may be the cause of your baby’s non-napping. So download your free guide today, and start putting the tips to use as early as your baby’s next nap!
 

Is your child a champion napper? A no-napper? Something in between? Share your story!

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55 thoughts on “How Many Naps Does Your Baby or Toddler Actually Need?”

  1. Hi,

    My daughter is 5 months old and is sleeping well at night. She goes to sleep around 7pm and wakes around 6am, either sleeping all night or waking once for a feed. She usually has a sleep during the morning for about an hour and then one after lunch for around 1.5 hours. I struggle to get her to have a third nap and it is a real struggle for her to last from around half 2/3 until bedtime. Do you have any advice?

    Thank you

    • Hi @Georgina, thanks for writing to us. I’m glad to hear your daughter has been doing overall so great with sleep, but am sorry you’re challenged with that last nap of the day. Here is a link to a free guide with tips to help with nap trouble that may be helpful: https://www.babysleepsite.com/free-baby-nap-guide/
      I hope this helps but if you need anything else, please let us know!

  2. My 2 month old Sleeps through the night about 8 hours. During the day she will take little cat naps anywhere from 15 minutes to 30 minutes. Is this normal since she is sleeping through the night?

    • @Jennifer – Thank you for reading and for sharing with us. Short and erratic naps are definitely very common for a 2 month old baby! 8 hours of sleep at night sounds heavenly though! 🙂 Do keep reading and sharing, Jennifer!

    • Hi @Geetanjali – Thank you for visiting us! We hope that you continue to find our information helpful and informative! Thanks for reading!

  3. I run a day care. I have a parent that wants us to put there 9 month old down for a nap every 2 hours from the time she wakes up. She gets up at 6 and we put her down at 930 and again at 1. She takes about a 45 minute nap in the morning and a 1.5 to 2 hours at her second nap. She does not fuss and is in a great mood most of the time. She does not act tired at all. What can I tell her parents? They want us to put her down and say they are worried about her health since we don’t give her enough rest.

  4. My little boy (7 mo old) usually takes 2-3 naps depending on how long he sleeps. He regularly goes to bed around 7 and wakes up at 7 and at night nurses 1-2 times on good nights but sometimes every 3 hours. I have noticed however when he takes 3 short naps (30-45 minutes), he sleeps better at night than when he takes 2 longer naps (1-2.5 hours. Why would this be? Any ideas?
    I usually hear that good sleep begets good sleep so this seems backwards.

    • @Kayla – Thank you for visiting our sleepy little village! How awesome that your little guy is sleeping so well for you during the day and night! That’s wonderful! Good sleep most definitely begets good sleep; please don’t doubt this. I’m not sure if there are any other factors involved or contributing to his daily schedule on the days he sleeps less during the night, but from what you’ve described it sounds as though he just may be getting all the sleep he needs. Each baby only needs a certain amount of total sleep each day and night, so whether he gets more of it during the day or the night, that total # won’t change. So on the days he’s napping longer during the day, he’s getting more of his total sleep during the day so thereby needs less of it at night. This article may be helpful as well: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-sleep-needs/baby-how-much-sleep/

      I hope this helps, Kayla. Please do keep reading and commenting!

  5. Hi,

    My son is almost 11 months and takes 2 naps still – my problem is that he tends to get up at 5 -530 every morning and he goes to bed at 7 every night but he still seems really cranky when he gets up so I know he is still tired. Is there any way I can get him to sleep longer?

    Thanks
    Arlene

  6. That’s what I thought. And Meagan, usually the really long nap is right before bedtime and she’s woken at 5:45 before, just to be put to bed at 6:30/6:45 to be asleep at 7, and then she just screams for a long time before finally going back to sleep around 9 (we don’t leave her in the bedroom to scream. We usually try to put her to bed for 30-45 min, and then get her up.) Anyway, I’ve noticed that she seems more willing to play on her own for 30 minutes or so a couple times throughout the day if she’s had the longer naps. So I’m going to try the adapted schedule and see how she does. Thanks! 🙂

  7. @Traci You know, unless there’s a medical issue, a 7 month old does not need to be waken to eat! Is there any other reason you’re waking her? She can go for a little while without eating now… She’ll wake on her own if it’s been too long. I would not wake a baby from a nap unless it’s late in the day and you’re worried about pushing back bedtime!

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