Afternoon sleep for baby or toddler

Sleep is vital for babies and young children, whose brains and bodies are developing at an extraordinary rate – but nighttime rest isn’t enough. Regular naps help them get the sleep they need.
Do your best to encourage your baby to nap consistently. But keep in mind that his temperament and natural rhythms will help determine how and when he naps. Some babies nap for long stretches every day right from the start and settle easily into a pattern.

As a newborn, your baby will sleep for two to four hours at a time, day and night. At this stage, you shouldn’t expect any sort of napping pattern. I would not recommend starting a routine for 2 to 4 week, increase baby’s weigh and get to know your baby.

When your baby’s 6 to 8 weeks old, she’s likely to start consolidating her sleep – she’ll sleep less often and for longer stretches at a time. She’ll probably need two to long nap a day, and perhaps a short nap in the evening (catnap) so your baby does not get over tired in the evening.

By 6 months, your baby will probably be taking two naps a day, one in the morning and one in the early afternoon.

At 9 to 12 months, most babies are down to two naps a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

And by 10 to 12 months, most children give up their morning nap altogether but continue to have a good 2 hour sleep in the afternoon. They’ll continue with an afternoon sleep until they’re 2.5 or 3.5 years old maybe not as long.


These are typical patterns, but not all babies follow them. Every baby has her own unique sleep habits. For more information:

Check out our sample baby sleep schedules. 

Age Hours between feedingsNumber of NapsLength of Naps
1 month2 – 4 hours between feeding4 – 5 naps16 to 18 hours
3 months4 hours3 naps (2 long, 1 short)14 to 16 hours
6 months5 – 8 hours2 naps14 to 15 hours
9 months8 – 10 hours2 napsAbout 14 hours
10 months – 12 months10 – 12 hours2 napsAbout 14 hours
12 months – 3 years11 – 12 hours1 nap13 to 14 hours
2.5 years plus11 – 12 hoursN/A12 to 14 hours

Reading your Baby’s Cues
Pay attention to your baby’s sleep signals, this could be rubbing his eyes, getting fussy at specific periods during the day, pulling on the ears, yawning—each baby has his own cues and habits that can change from time to time. However, you know your baby best, and it is therefore important to read his body language.

Again, for this reason it is recommended to keep a diary. This will help you see your baby’s patterns so you can anticipate naps.
It’s no secret, babies and children thrive on routine! Consistency is the key here–try to schedule your baby’s naps for roughly the same time every day. Having that routine during the day can make all the difference and impact every aspect of your baby’s day-be it eating, sleeping, playing, wind down time…all of these is codependent on one another and can be best achieved through consistency. Working out the best sleep schedule for your baby is all trial and error, and it will change as your child grows and reaches new developmental milestones.
Feel free to remove layers your baby may be wearing for a peaceful and restful sleep, ensuring that they don’t get too warm or their movements are restricted during sleep by their clothing, dungarees, hoodies, and jeans are the biggest interferers here. Be sure to include a wind down before nap time, this should be a condensed version of what you do at night. In example, if you follow with the four b’s (bath time, bottle or breast, bedtime story, and bed) you can still do this but simplify it. Maybe, remove some layers instead of bath, give baby a feed if necessary, and a short story would work- think poems and nursery rhymes.

When children get to a certain age, around 5 months, they are going to sleep better in their own cots, they should be able to bond with their bedroom and their beds should be their best friend. Obviously, it’s more comfortable. Save the buggy or play cot for when you absolutely need it for these reasons.

© Teresa Boardman, Nanny Options.

Nanny Options
Nanny Options is an International Irish Childcare Agency based in Dublin. We provide Experienced and Professional Nannies, Maternity Nurses, Babysitters, Special Events Nannies, Housekeepers, Tutors, Sleep Training, Parenting Classes and First Aid Courses. Our Director, Teresa Boardman who has 30+ years’ knowledge is committed to providing you and your family with a quality service. She has gained a broad experience of children within different family setups.

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