How Long Should Newborn Naps Be

Naps Can Increase Alertness

How Long Should a Baby Nap? Newborn to Age 3 | Baby Sleep Expert Guide

One of the most significant benefits of napping is that boost of alertness you feel after catching some much-needed zs. Studies have shown that people who took a mid-afternoon nap woke up with an energy boost similar to one theyd experienced after drinking a caffeinated energy drink or coffee. However, unlike energy derived from caffeine, the rejuvenating power of a nap benefits your whole body, increasing your learning capacity, overall sleep and memory recall.

Baby Nap Basics For All Ages: Your Daytime Sleep Questions Answered

Many parents wonder what a typical schedule looks like for their child. The truth is that every baby is different, but there are some baby nap basics that work for most children six months and older. If you have a younger child, I would encourage you to follow their natural sleepy-time cues for naps and nighttime sleep, and I will write about newborn sleep in a different article.

The goal of napping is to allow your baby to complete a sleep cycle and get refreshing sleep, which means that the absolute minimum time for a nap is 45 minutes. Anything less and youre looking at a disaster nap. Learn:

  • Recommended sleep hours
  • Using The Shuffle for naps

Stages Of Sleep In Newborns

The sleep of newborns occurs in four stages:Stage 1: Drowsiness. Your baby becomes drowsy after a period of wakefulness and is ready to fall asleep. Itâs a good idea to put your baby to sleep in her crib when she is drowsy and not yet asleep.

Stage 2: REM or active sleep. Your baby may start to twitch or jerk his arms and legs, and his eyes may move under his eyelids. His breathing may be irregular and stop for 5 to 10 seconds. This is referred to as ânormal periodic breathing of infancy.â His breathing speeds up to a rate of between 50 and 60 breaths per minute, and this rapid pace lasts between 10 and 15 seconds. Then his breathing will return to a regular pace, with the cycle repeating. This type of breathing is completely normal for young babies, and your little one will eventually grow out of it by around 6 months old.

Stage 3: Light sleep. In this stage, your babyâs breathing is regular and sleep is not as active as in the previous stage.

Stage 4 and 5: Deep or non-REM sleep. Also known as quiet sleep, this is the stage your baby falls into a deep sleep. There is no twitching or any other movements. It may be difficult to wake your baby in this stage should you need to for any reason.

Read Also: How To Help Newborn Fall Asleep

How Do I Make Sure My Baby Gets The Right Amount Of Sleep

Overstimulation during the day can cause your baby to either sleep too little or sleep when they should be eating, due to exhaustion. Newborn babies need to be fed frequently to ensure proper development.

If your newborn baby becomes overtired they will become fussy, and harder to settle for sleep. We’ve given age-targeted tips to help avoid overstimulation and improve your baby’s sleep in the sleep schedules below. For more information on how much sleep your baby needs and how long they should be sleeping at a time read How Much Do Newborns Sleep?

Learning your baby’s sleep cycle

While your baby has your nose or eyes, the two of you couldn’t be farther apart when it comes to sleep cycle! The main reason your newborn’s sleep patterns are unpredictable is because of their evolving sleep cycle.

Adults can easily pass from one sleep cycle into the next without completely waking up. Newborns, however, don’t stay in deep sleep for long periods at a time, so they are more susceptible to frequent wake-ups. Our post, Your Baby’s Sleep Cycle, explains more in-depth about how your baby’s sleep cycle is linked to their sleep patterns.

To learn more about the changes to your baby’s sleep cycle and how to cope with sleep regression, read our post 10 Tips to Surviving the 4 Month Sleep Regression.

Tips For A Safe And Comfortable Nap Time

How long should my baby be awake in between naps?

Now that Ive gone over the basics of your babys nap schedule and the Nap Pass, its important to talk about making naptime safe and comfy, too.

Between naps and nighttime, your little one will spend a lot of time sleeping. For their wellbeing and your peace of mind, its essential that they are snoozing safely! Here are five ways to make your babys time in bed both safe and comfortable.

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At Night: Newborn Sleep And Waking

In the first few months, newborns usually wake several times a night for feeds.

Between one and three months, your baby might start waking less often and have a longer period of sleep at night.

By the time your baby is around three months old, they might regularly be having a longer sleep at night for example, around 4-5 hours. But you can expect that your baby will still wake at least once each night.

If your baby is premature or low birth weight, your paediatrician or child and family health nurse might recommend that you let your baby sleep for only a certain amount of time at night before you wake them for a feed.

Is A 3 Hour Nap Too Long

While it can feel strange, waking a baby from a 3-hour nap is definitely okay, and considered best practice. Babies take a while to learn the skill of sleep, much like an older child is going to take a while to learn to read. Like reading, they need us to coach them as they develop these skills.The idea that you mustnt wake a sleeping baby, EVER, runs on the assumption that all babies, of any age, are skilled enough in sleep to be in absolute control of the precise number of their own nap hours.

Sadly, this isn’t true for the vast majority of babies.

Wait, first, let me clarify “waking”… We’re not talking about all the time or every nap or during the night. When we refer to waking your baby it’s usually to start the day at a consistent time at say 7am, or to maintain a specific morning nap length, enabling a longer, more restorative lunch nap, or to cap a late afternoon nap which risks ruining bedtime, or in a transition period when babies are about to drop a nap.

But, you say, my baby must need the sleep, right? Yep, absolutely right! They do need the sleep But they dont necessarily need it all during the day when sleep is less restorative than during the night.

– wake multiple times a night- stay awake for long periods in the night- wake early in the morning and not go back to sleep- be difficult to settle at bedtime or overnight

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How Long Are Your Babys Naps

Babies can only stay awake for a short period of time and so the length of their naps will determine how many naps they have per day. For example, a baby who is only able to stay awake for an hour and who is having naps that are 3 hours long , will take fewer naps than a baby who is able to stay awake for an hour but only has 45 minute catnaps .

Month Baby Sleep Schedule

How long *should* naps be?

Total sleep: 12 to 14 hours in a full days cycle.

The day starts… at 6 to 7am

Napping: 2 naps, totaling 2 to 4 hours daily.

Nighttime sleep: usually starts earlier, with your baby hitting the hay between 7-9pm. Early enough for mom and dad to get some alone time! The longest sleeping stretch usually averages 7 to 10 hours at night.

Heads up: You child is officially a toddler . Communicating with kids this age requires a whole new set of tools and expectations. You’ll find fun and fast acting tips to boost emotional strength, increase patience and reduce tantrums in The Happiest Toddler . Also, you can now introduce a handkerchief-sized silky blanket or hand-sized cuddly stuffed animal into the crib!

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How Long Should A Baby Stay Awake

3-4 Months old: 72% reported the optimal waketime was 60-90 minutes for a 3 to 4 month old. Once again, this is in line with where I think most babies would be. Kaitlyn was right at 60 minutes, but if I had to err it was better to err before 60 minutes. 2 minutes after would mean trouble sleeping. So for her, I chose 50-60 minutes. If I had chosen for Brayden, it would have been 60-70 or perhaps 70-80. Remember, these averages give you a good idea of where to shoot for, but each child is different and it is up to you to figure out optimal for your baby.

4-5 Months old: At this age, optimal really starts to vary with a larger gap from baby to baby. The poll results for this age group had most answers from 80 minutes to 2 hours. This is a large variation. At this age some babies are starting to stay awake longer while others are still holding on to their shorter waketime length. My guess is for most babies, 2 hours is too long for most in this age group. Most will be around a little over an hour to maybe 1.5 hours, but that doesnt mean there are not exceptions to this.

5-6 Months old: Again, our optimal length is going to vary, and our poll results show it. Most babies can make it over an hour by now. The largest percentage in the results was 1.75-2 hours, at only 32%obviously not a majority. My guess is most this age are really going to do best around 1.5 hours of waketime. Again, figure out what is best for your baby.

How Can I Help My Child Nap

The key can be as simple as setting up a consistent nap routine early on and sticking to it. Soft music, dim lights, and a quiet story can help kids settle into their naps.

Put infants down for a nap while theyre sleepy but not yet asleep. This helps kids learn how to fall asleep by themselves a skill that gets even more important as they get older.

For toddlers and preschoolers, set regular naptimes that are not too close to bedtime. Sticking to a naptime schedule can be a challenge. Many do still love their nap, but others don’t want to miss a thing and fight going to sleep. If your child gives up daytime naps, consider setting an earlier bedtime.

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Coping With Disturbed Nights

Newborn babies invariably wake up repeatedly in the night for the first few months, and disturbed nights can be very hard to cope with.

If you have a partner, ask them to help. If you’re formula feeding, encourage your partner to share the feeds. If you’re breastfeeding, ask your partner to take over the early morning changing and dressing so you can go back to sleep.

Once you’re into a good breastfeeding routine, your partner could occasionally give a bottle of expressed breast milk during the night. If you’re on your own, you could ask a friend or relative to stay for a few days so you can get some sleep.

Normal Sleep Patterns For Babies

Baby Nap Chart: How Many Naps and How Long Should They Be ...

Newborns typically split their 1417 hours of sleep between daytime and nighttime sleep, though in small chunks of time. Babies dont typically sleep longer stretches until about 3 to 6 months old.

When you bring your newborn home, theyll take turns sleeping and waking up ready to feed. A newborn baby might sleep for 1 1/2 to 3 hours and then wake up hungry.

Your little one may also need an equal number of diaper changes. Your best bet is to try to get some shut-eye while theyre snoozing, no matter what time of the day it is.

Your babys sleep patterns will change as they grow, week by week.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants 4 to 12 months old should get between 12 and 16 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period.

Let your doctor know if you think your newborn is sleeping too much or too little:

  • If your baby is a fresh newborn, 3 months or under, they shouldnt have less than 11 hours of sleep and not more than 19 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period.
  • Babies 4 to 11 months shouldnt get less than 10 hours of sleep and not more than 18 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period.

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Sleep Training For Naps

Sleep training isnt really an option for either naps or bedtime until baby is 4 to 6 months old because little ones just arent developmentally ready. However, you can start to apply the foundations of a schedule for day sleep early, by slowing down as naptime approaches, dimming the lights, and making sure babys room is quiet.

Once he hits the age when you can sleep train, the effort is usually worth the long-term benefits. It helps many babies get to sleep faster and learn to soothe themselves back to sleep if they wake up at night.

A typical nap sleep training approach means putting baby down when hes drowsy but awake, then leaving the room. If he cries and you’re using the Ferber method, you can go back for a quick check but no picking up or feeding every few minutes, increasing the interval between check-ins until he falls asleep. You can also try other sleep training methods if they work better.

Normal Baby Sleep Versus Adult Sleep

Babies under 1 are naturally lighter sleepers compared with adults. They spend more of their sleeping time in ‘active sleep’ instead of ‘quiet sleep’.

In active sleep, babies breathe shallowly and twitch their arms and legs. Their eyes flutter under their eyelids. Babies can be easily woken up from active sleep.

Everybody has a cycle, where their sleep varies from light to deep. Adults’ sleep cycles are usually about 90 minutes. Babies’ sleep cycles are usually about 40 minutes, so they tend to wake up more often.

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How Can I Ensure A Good Nap

Napping well can be tricky, and some people are just not built to benefit from naps. This could be because of their bodies, their minds, their personalities, their schedules, or their life circumstances. However, for those that do benefit from naps, there are a few general guidelines to follow to help keep naps healthy.

  • Keep it short: For most people, the ideal length of a nap is around 15-30 minutes. This gives the body enough time to rest without entering deep sleep and experiencing the associated grogginess. Make sure to have a system for waking yourself up from your nap at the desired time, ideally with back-ups if your primary method isnt foolproof.
  • Keep it Regular: The key to pretty much all healthy sleep is regularity. The human body is a creature of habit, and sleep is no exception. Across the board, studies have shown that consistency is one of the most important attributes of maintaining sleep health.

Make your naps as regular and as consistent as possible. You should try to nap every day, including days when youre not at work. You should also schedule your naps so they happen at around the same time every day. This will help your body absorb the nap into your daily sleep routine, and become accustomed enough to napping to fully reap the benefits.

Following a nap schedule doesnt have to be rigid, however napping consistently every day or most days at around the same time will help you get the most out of napping.

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