TAKING CARA BABIES

Nap Schedules: 5 Months to 25 Months

Cara Dumaplin, Founder

April 29, 2017

AHHHHH…. Naps! Naps are a beautiful time for baby’s body and brain to refresh and for parents to recharge. (Insert HUGE eye roll!) Yeah…whatever. If only it were that easy, right? Often, naps are harder to conquer than night sleep. Okay, well… I’m here to help.

First, I want you to repeat after me: “Flexible Routine NOT Rigid Schedules!” Say it again, “Flexible Routine NOT Rigid Schedules!” It took me four kids to learn the valuable lesson of flexibility. Perfection is over-rated and babies are born to show us that rigidity is fairly useless in parenting. So, buckle up and join me on the ride through Nap Land.

Please remember naps ARE important. We know “sleep begets sleep.” This means that adequate daytime rest leads to fewer night wakings and longer night sleep. However, naps can be so difficult to navigate through without any guidance. (Insert Cara with a cape!)

This blog post is created for parents with babies 5 months – 2 years. I will give you sample schedules. However, please understand that your baby probably will NOT follow any of them exactly. If you haven’t figured it out yet, your baby is different from all the rest! That’s a good thing!

Please use the guidelines set forth based upon your baby’s age, watch your baby’s sleepy cues (yawns, eye rubs, crankiness, “zoning out”), and adjust your routine accordingly. Please understand that if your baby is NOT sleeping 10-12 hours at night independently, THAT is the place to start. Night sleep is typically accomplished prior to day sleep. Now, these schedules can be helpful, but naps may remain a bit messy until your nights are conquered.

If your baby is struggling to sleep through the night and has inconsistent naps,  “The ABC’s of Baby Sleep” is the place to begin! This online class will help little ones achieve 10-12 hours of night sleep in the crib, wean night feedings, and solve nap troubles.

If you have taken the newborn class, “Will I Ever Sleep Again,” you may notice that the schedules below do NOT align with the E.A.S.Y. method encouraged for newborn care. I tend to squelch E.A.S.Y. at five months of age. And why is that, Cara… a baby’s awake time begins to lengthen, making it difficult to maintain E.A.S.Y. while still fitting an adequate amount of calories in during their day. Because of this, continue to offer feedings according to your baby’s hunger cues. Yes, continue to offer breast and bottle feedings every 2-3.5 hours throughout your baby’s first year of life. Just fit feedings in around nap times when you see true hunger cues

If a feeding falls prior to a nap, try not to feed your baby to sleep. Wake him up prior to putting him in the crib. Feeding to sleep can actually lead to shorter, less productive naps. Again, if you’re struggling to implement naps, the online class, “The ABC’s of Baby Sleep” will help.

5-7 Months

Goal Amount of Daytime Sleep: 3-4 hours
Average Number of Naps: 3 (sometimes 4)
Wake Windows: 2-3 hours
Bedtime: 7:00-8:00pm
Feedings: Every 2 -3.5 hours based on hunger cues

Your Daily Routine Based Upon Wake Time:
2 hours after Wake Time= Nap 1
2.5 hours after the end of Nap 1= Nap 2
2.5 hours after the end of Nap 2= Nap 3

Maintain 2-3 hours of awake time prior to bed, but try not to exceed 3.5 hours. (Bedtime may need to be pushed a bit earlier depending on the last nap of the day so as not to exceed three hours.)

Side note about that 3rd nap: This nap is typically a “catnap” lasting 30-45 minutes. The purpose of the third nap is to help baby make it until bedtime. Sometimes, that third nap of the day is a real BEAST! If you are struggling with this nap and it’s becoming a daily battle, consider an “Oops Nap.” This is a nap that happens while out on a walk in the stroller, while running errands in the car seat, or just when being held. Is this ideal? NO! However, the purpose of this catnap is to help your baby make it to bedtime. Get it how you can get it (preferably in the crib).

Signs it’s time to drop the third nap:
*most commonly happens between ages 7-9 months
*difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at nap time  (when this wasn’t a problem previously)
*3rd nap is getting so late it interfering with bedtime
*early morning wakings begin to manifest (because baby is getting to much daytime sleep)
*baby just doesn’t seem tired at nap time- difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep (short naps)

Sample Schedules:

*Please offer solids throughout your day as advised by your pediatrician with every schedule.

Adding Some Flexibility:
Sometimes, babies have a hard time staying awake according to the schedule. Watch your little one’s sleepy cues. Try to slightly stretch his/her wake windows if showing cues way too early (but not to the point of having a meltdown). It is much easier to put a tired baby down for a nap versus an overly tired baby. Notice that in this sample schedule, the baby never really slept longer than 30-40 minutes nor could the baby stay awake the entire time between naps, so a 4th nap had to be added.

4 Hour Feeding Schedule

(Please note… this is only 4 feedings during a day. This option is for those who request it, but please feed your baby according to his hunger cues.)

7/8 – 14+ Months

Goal Amount of Daytime Sleep: 2.5-3 hours
Average Number of Naps: 2 (the 3rd nap is being dropped at about 8 months)
Wake Windows: 3-3.5 hours
Bedtime: 7:00-8:00pm
Feedings: Every 2 -3.5 hours based on hunger cues

Your Daily Routine Based Upon Wake Time:
2.5 – 3 hours after Wake Time= Nap 1
3 – 3.5 hours after the end of Nap 1= Nap 2

No napping after 4-4:30pm. Maintain a minimum 3-3.5 hours of awake time prior to bed. Try not to exceed 4- 4.5 hours of awake time before bedtime. (Bedtime may need to be pushed a bit earlier if needed.)

*Please offer solids throughout your day as advised by your pediatrician with every schedule.

Signs it’s time to transition to one nap:
*most commonly happens between ages 14-20 months
*second nap is interfering with bedtime (bedtime suddenly becomes a battle)
*baby is resisting second nap 3-4 days a week for two weeks
*baby just doesn’t seem tired at nap time- difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep (short naps)

A 4 hour schedule for those requesting it:

*Again, this is only four feedings offered during the day. Your baby may need more if not eating at night. Feed according to hunger cues.

14/18 Months – 2+ years

Goal Amount of Daytime Sleep: 2-3 hours
Average Number of Naps: 1
Wake Windows: 5-6
Bedtime: 7:00-8:00pm
Feedings: Every 2 -3.5 hours based on hunger cues

How To Transition To One Nap: Help your little one stay awake until half-way through the day. Initially, your baby may only make it until 10:45ish. Each day try to slowly stretch naptime by 10 minutes until he/she is able to make it to 11:30am-12:30 pm. You may need to get out of the house in the mornings to help her stay awake- go to the park, walk around the mall, go grocery shopping, or take a swim class. Be careful not to let your little one get a 10 minute power-nap in the car seat on the way home. This could ruin the nap for the entire day if your baby doesn’t transfer well.

If consistently waking up prior to 1.5 hours, leave him/her in the crib another 15-20 minutes to see if another nap will ensue.

Bedtime needs to be about 4.5-5 hours from wake-up. You may need to push bedtime earlier (6:30-6:45pm) initially if your baby is having trouble staying awake until 7:00pm.

Cara Dumaplin

Cara Dumaplin

Founder

As a neonatal nurse, mom of four, and wife of a pediatrician, Cara has created classes and resources to help babies and parents sleep, allowing them to reclaim the joy of parenthood. Since the birth of Taking Cara Babies in 2013, Cara has truly been able to see her passion come to life as she educates, empowers, and encourages parents all over the world.

Cara's happy place is the beach with her laughing children. But if she can't get that far, you might find her in the Joanna Gaines section of Target, sipping on coffee and wearing yoga pants.

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