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Naps & Gaps: How to Establish Baby Naps and Awake Windows

When and how to adjust your little one’s day naps

Babies all develop at different times and rates, some may need more sleep than others, needing shorter or longer awake windows so its important to be responsive to them. It can be a tricky juggling game for a period especially between 4-6 months, while their sleep cycles are maturing, needing re-settling during the lunch nap.Below is my simple guide to what little ones need…

4-6 months 3-4 naps a day with 1 ½- 2 hr awake windows

6-8 months 3 naps a day with 2-3  hr awake windows

8-15 months 2 naps a day with 2/3/4 hr awake windows

15months -2- 3 years 1 nap a day

Signs that naps need adjusting:

  • Struggling to fall asleep

  • Having only short naps

  • Bedtime settling suddenly becomes a battle

  • Waking in the night

  • Early wake ups

  • All the above can be down to multiple reasons and not always that naps need adjusting but its always worth considering

When they are nearing the time for naps to be adjusted then start to lengthen the awake windows prior to the  nap time in increasing, slow stages. You can also start to reduce the nap lengths again as they are showing signs of needing less sleep during the day, rather than cutting suddenly.

When dropping or cutting the length of day naps…

Going from 4-3 naps

  • Start to lengthen awake windows between naps

  • Re settle at the lunchtime nap if needing help

Dropping the last nap of the day

  • Start to lengthen the awake window between earlier naps

  • Begin to cut the last nap in length to just 15-20 mins

  • Bring bedtime forward if needed

Dropping the am nap

  • Begin to cut the am nap in increasing stages until its just 20-30 minutes long

  • Bring the lunchtime nap forward if struggling with the longer awake window

  • Having an early bedtime , while they adjust to just the one earlier nap a day

Quick guide to naps

  1. Appropriate awake windows for their age & stage –

  2. Being able to self-settle at the start of the nap – helps with quicker settling time and being able to re settle mid naptime

  3. Pre nap time wind down routine – 15-20 ins of a feed if needed, stories , nappy change , and a dim room all help with the sleep hormone melatonin being released in prep for sleep

If you would like 1-2-1 help with your little ones naps or sleep in general, please get in touch and I would be happy to help.

Sam, aka The Baby Guru

Don’t forget to follow on social media for weekly tips and advice on all things sleep, routine and feeding.

The Baby Guru


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