Addressing daytime naps should be the last goal when implementing The Baby Sleep System. It is actually harder for a baby to learn to nap than it is to settle at bedtime and sleep through the night – hence the reason why I advise that the former are addressed first. Your baby needs to have mastered the art of self-settling before trying to introduce him/her to napping in the cot. Described below are the average number and length of naps that babies and young children need to take in order to follow a good sleep pattern. Remember all children are different so the figures should not be taken literally, they are for guidance.
0 - 3 months: Small babies tend to nap every one and a half to three hours.
3 - 6 months: The time between naps start to lengthen to two and a half to four hourly intervals.
6 - 9 months: Your baby will start to take a nap in the morning, a longer nap around lunchtime and maybe a short cat nap in the afternoon. The total amount of time he will be sleeping during the day should be a maximum of around three hours.
9 - 12 months: Your baby will now take a maximum of two naps, one in the morning and a longer nap after lunch. Some baby’s do drop to one nap at this stage in their development.
12 months – 2 years: One X two hour nap or less a day will be sufficient, which is best taken just after lunch.
If your baby seems to be constantly tired and grumpy and unable to sleep for longer than 45 minutes, then you may need to embark upon a strategy to help him/her nap better. However, if your baby seems to be quite content through the day and perhaps grabs sleep on the school run or whilst you are out and about, you may decide that daytime sleep training is not necessary. In an ideal world it is better if your baby can sleep anywhere i.e. in the cot when you are at home and in the pram/car whilst you are out and about.
You may be experiencing another common napping problem, short naps! As at night, babies sleep in cycles through the day. If your baby is waking at or before 45 minutes has elapsed, then they have roused at the end of one cycle and failed to re-settle again into the next. This is sometimes as a result of an enthusiastic parent dashing in at the first sign of waking and not giving their little one the chance to re-settle. If you can, try and wait 10 minutes before going to get your child and they may surprise you and go back to sleep!
If your baby struggles to fall asleep at all through the day, then this could be because of a timing issue. If your baby is not tired enough, s/he will not sleep. Conversely, if your little one is over-tired, they will also struggle to fall asleep! Go back to Section 3.5 and see if your baby might be being put down too early or too late. Waking early from a nap (after around 30 minutes), can also be a sign that you may be putting your baby down too early.
In summary, be confident that your baby knows how to self-settle, keep persevering with the timing of naps and always give your baby the chance to re-settle if s/he wakes early. If you are still having problems, post on the Forum www.babysleepanswers.co.uk .