Is a 3-Hour Nap Too Long for Your Baby?

Baby napping peacefully in cribWe all want our babies to take long, luxurious naps but how long is too long? Is a 3-hour nap too long for a baby? The short answer is no, it’s not too long IF that’s what your baby needs! However, the answer isn’t always so straightforward. As a sleep consultant 15+ years, I can tell you that there are sometimes you want to wake your baby. I’m happy to share tips for your baby’s schedule today!

3-Hour Naps for Newborns

Newborn babies tend to sleep a lot in the early days. Therefore, 3-hour naps would be considered normal unless your newborn is confusing days and nights. If your baby is awake for long periods at night then you may NOT want to let your newborn nap for so long during the day. When we are fixing day/night confusion, we typically limit any single nap to a maximum of two hours.

We have to let newborns sleep for long periods of time because they are adjusting to the outside world and get overstimulated very quickly. Some doctors even say they need a fourth trimester. If you don’t let your baby sleep enough, they can become very fussy.

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4 to 12 Month Olds

Babies older than the newborn stage usually sleep 2 to 4 hours during the day, in total, depending on the age of your baby. 4 to 6-month-olds tend to sleep 3-4 hours and 6+ month-olds tend to sleep for 2-3 hours during the day.

Since a baby’s wake window is typically shorter, it is customary for naps to range from 30 minutes to 2 hours during the day. If your baby is taking a 3-hour nap during the day, it could cause problems in your schedule. This is because if your baby needs 4 hours of sleep during the day, but sleeps 3 hours in a single nap, that doesn’t leave a lot of time for the rest of the day. This can cause over-tiredness or too much daytime sleep which can cause insomnia or what we call a split night.

Therefore, in this age range, yes, a 3-hour nap could be too long for your baby! Of course, there are many schedules that work for families but, in general, we find that anything over two hours for a 4 to 12-month-old is usually too long.

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3-Hour Naps for Toddlers

When your baby becomes a toddler and drops to one nap, that nap tends to be 2 to 3 hours long. Therefore, a 3-hour nap is NOT generally too long for a toddler who is 13+ months old and on a 1-nap schedule. Most toddlers need 10-12 hours of sleep at night and 2-3 hours during the day on a 1-nap schedule.

On the other hand, if you have a toddler who is 18 months to 3 years old and is taking a 3-hour nap, this could be causing problems at night. Your 18+-month-old could be taking too long to fall asleep at bedtime, staying awake for long periods in the middle of the night, or waking up too early in the morning! These all could be signs your toddler is ready to stop napping or, at a minimum, it might be time to reduce the length of the nap. Sometimes, we shorten the nap to two hours, 90 minutes, and occasionally, 45-60 minutes, depending on the age of the child and how close they are to dropping the nap completely.

If your child is napping for 3 hours during the day, sleeping well at night, and everyone is happy, I’d say a 3-hour nap is just right!

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I hope this article has helped you determine if your baby or toddler is napping too long during the day. We’re happy to help!

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