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.
For even more nap and schedule help, check out these members-only resources, found in our VIP Members Area:
- Mastering Naps and Schedules e-Book (unlimited member access at no extra cost!)
- Custom Schedule-Maker (unlimited access – make as many schedules as you’d like! Includes meal times)
- Nap Transitions audio course with Nicole Johnson
- Short Naps audio course with Nicole Johnson
- How To Put Your Child on a Schedule audio course with Nicole Johnson
- 5 Tips To Manage Nap Transitions [EXPANDED VIP MEMBER-ONLY VERSION]
- 5 Tips For Handling Tough Daycare Nap Schedules [EXPANDED VIP MEMBER-ONLY VERSION]
- Day-by-Day Nap Training Plan
- Downloadable Sleep/Nap Coaching Plan Workbook (learn how to create your own nap coaching plan!)
- Printable Sample Schedule Shifts Forward (great for daylight saving time changes)
Not a member? Not a problem! Join today, and you’ll receive instant access to our vast online library of sleep coaching resources.
Personalized Baby and Toddler Nap Help That Works – Guaranteed!
Don’t feel up to working on your baby or toddler’s nap challenges on your own? While our Members Area is great for DIY parents who prefer to tackle sleep challenges on their own, we know that other moms much prefer to go straight to one-on-one help. Well, good news – we offer that, and you can start getting the personal help you need TODAY!
Browse our list of consultation package options here.
Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to log in and get started right away – it’s that simple!
My Baby/Toddler Won’t Nap — Help!
Short 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!
55 thoughts on “How Many Naps Does Your Baby or Toddler Actually Need?”
@ Traci — if she seems tired, I’d definitely suggest letting her nap a bit longer. It can seem like a good idea to limit her sleep during the day (because logic would tell us that means she’ll sleep longer at night), but as many moms who visit this site could tell you, that often backfires! Keeping a baby awake during the day when she should be sleeping can make her overtired, and a baby who’s overtired may actually sleep worse at night.
So I’d say yes, try extending the naps a bit and see if she starts to seem more rested. Let us know how it works out!
Alright, I put her on the 7 month sleep schedule and she took to it pretty well, but now she is almost constantly rubbing her eyes all day, and she does okay on the schedule, but she just -seems- tired all day long. Should I add to her naps a little and give her a little extra rest every day? I was wondering if this would be too much sleep for her…
7:00 Wake and 6 oz bottle
8:30 15 minute walk
8:45 Nap til 10
10:00 6 oz bottle
12:00 Nap 45 min-1 hr
12:45/1:00 6 oz bottle
3:00 6 oz bottle
3:30 Nap til 5
6:15 bedtime routine starts
7:00 Goal to be asleep
Do you think that would give her too much sleep during the day? There have been some days in the past where I’ve just kind of let her sleep for all of her naps, and let her wake on her own (unless it’s getting ridiculously long since she’d last eaten), and she slept at least an hour at each nap, and one of the naps she slept 2 hours. I don’t want to give her too much sleep so she can’t handle the day, but she just seems to be so exhausted all day long, and grumpy to the point of being unreasonable (but not very often that bad). Any ideas?
Thanks for all the help, guys. I really do appreciate it.
@Lindsey, Gabriel seems to do better with playing with her toys if I am sitting with her and actively interacting and playing with her. She’ll sit with toys longer, and I can get an occasional 5-10 minute break if I slip away when she’s not looking. If she starts to fuss, I’ll pop around the corner a couple of times like I’m playing peek-a-boo and that usually helps. Also, to help with the longer naps, I have learned to do an actual routine right before naps as well. She gets a walk before two of her naps, and then we go out to the store for a bit right before another nap. I’ve noticed that it seems to tire her out more because she’s taking in so much new information at once that she’ll almost always sleep for her 1 hour naps, and then her 30-45 minute nap is a breeze too! You may try some of those. I hope that helps! Don’t know if we’re allowed to post these or not, but you can contact me at [email protected] if you want to continue discussing it. 😀 God Bless!
@ Lindsey G — so sorry to hear you’re struggling! But glad you’ve found a friend here in Traci 🙂 Don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected] if you’d like more information about how we can help you with your daughter’s sleep struggles.
Traci, I feel exactly the same way about my daughter. She is tired of all her toys. She wants me to hold her, but then wants to play, and is getting fussy all the time. I got 45 minute naps a couple days and now we are down to 25 minutes each nap. Plus, she has gone from sleeping 12 hours a night to 11 or less. It is so frustrating and I have tried everything. Seems like we are in the same boat. My daughter is 10 days older than yours. She likes to pull up on her crib bumper and stand at the side of her crib. It can take an hour or more to get her to sleep sometimes.
@ Traci — Great!
I do appreciate the help that I -can- get, though. So far, so good. I think Gabriel (my daughter) is just developing more quickly than most other babies. She has started -everything- early. So I think maybe she’s just getting bored with the same old toys all the time. We finally were able to get her a walker today, and she LOVES it. She was in it for less than five minutes and was already motoring across the kitchen floor while Ya-Ya (grandma) was cooking dinner. 😀 Hoping this new direction with her toys will help with the fussiness during the day, too.
@ Traci — Understandable! Then you can just stick to reading the free guides and articles and try to glean as much from those as you can 🙂
In all honesty, we can’t afford any of that right now. My husband works part time, and only gets 19 hours a week at work, and I stay home with the baby. We make so little money, we’re living with his mother right now. Did the math the other day, and he brings home less than $7,500 a year. I would love to be able to do the emails or something sometime, but we just can’t afford any of that.
@ Traci — Have you considered a sleep consultation? I’m not trying to push our services on you or anything, but it sounds like you’ve done a lot on your own up to this point, but haven’t had total success. A sleep consultation might help to get your daughter napping/sleeping better. You can see all the services here: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-toddler-sleep-consulting-services/
So sorry to hear you’re struggling, Traci!
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