Nap Recommendations: How Many and How Long?

Nap Recommendations: How Many and How Long?


I commonly get asked how many naps a child should be taking in a day. In this post, I will give a summary of the recommendations. Please note that some children may take more or fewer naps than the same aged peer.

The number of naps that your child takes during the day will depend on the following:

  1. How long your child can tolerate being awake from sleep to sleep (wake times).
  2. How long your child is napping.
  3. How much sleep your child is getting overnight.


Recommendations for the Number of Naps:

(These recommendations are based on a child’s age)

Birth to 4 months:  4 to 5 naps a day

4 to 6 months: 3 to 4 naps a day

6 to 8 months: 2 to 3 naps a day

8 months to 18 months: 1 to 2 naps a day

18 months to 36 months (3 years of age): 1 nap


Recommendations for the Optimal Length of Nap:

Birth and 8 months of age: 45 to 90 minutes per nap****

8 months to 18 months: 60 minutes to 90 minutes per nap

18 months to 3 years:  90 minutes to 2.5 hours*****


****It is not uncommon for a child to nap for 30 to 45 minutes. This just means they will need more naps during the day. I firmly believe a nap is a nap and in time things will get better. See more about this in the post called Crap Naps.

*****If a child takes a nap longer than 2.5 hours but it does not affect night sleep then all is good.


The video below summarizes the information above and gives a few more details. This was a video I did for the free Facebook Group Supportive Sleep Learning and Parenting that I am the main moderator of.

Feel free to reach out if you require additional support. You book a free 15-minute call with me to discuss your situation and I will let you know how I can help.

Naps: When do I just give up!

Naps: When do I just give up!

“What do I do if my child just will not fall asleep?”…sound familiar. It should because it is a very common question.

Many families that I work with wonder what they should do if their child is simply refusing to nap. You would think that if your child is tired they would simply go to sleep; however, this is not the case for all babies. When this starts to happen there are a number of things to consider.

1. Are you offering a nap at the right time?

If your little one was sleeping fine and all of a sudden refuses to go for a nap when you offer it then it is time to either increase or decrease the time your child is awake from wake up to nap, I lovingly refer to this as wake time! (you may have heard me say this once or twice 🙂 )

Sleep Learning 101: Wake Time

Wake Times

2.  Are you in the process of reducing a sleep association?

If you are trying to make changes to your child’s sleep so you are offering sleep in a different manner. For example: reducing the feed to sleep association, rock to sleep association or sleeping on an adult. This takes time, persistence and consistency for improvement to be noticed. 

Sleep Learning 101: Sleep Prop

3. Developmental Milestone

If your child is in the midst of a developmental milestone they may struggle with going to sleep. The reason for the struggle going to sleep is that nap time seems to be when our little ones attempt to practice their new skill instead of going to sleep. Once your child has mastered the new sill they typically tend to go back to their regular sleeping skills.

So now you know why your child is refusing a nap but you are probably wondering…

What can I do? When do I give up? 


Typically I recommend that you continue to offer the nap. I would give your little one the chance to go to sleep by using the sleep teaching method of your choice for naps. 

So you have been trying for over 30 minutes, now what. Depending on your tolerance/frustration level. You can get your little one up and try again in 30 minutes or try for 1 hour and 15 minutes and see if your little one will fall to sleep.  If your little one has not fallen asleep at the end of the 1 hour 15 minutes then I would get your child up and try again in 30 minutes or go to an Emergency nap.


Emergency Nap?


You may be wondering what I mean by an emergency nap. An emergency nap is when you take your child for a walk in the stroller or for a drive in the car. Some families will place their child in a swing. I usually do not recommend the swing as this is often a sleep association the family is trying to remove. 

The reason for the emergency nap is that “sleep does beget sleep”. If your child is overtired your child’s nighttime sleep will be affected. An emergency nap is better than no nap. 

Using an emergency nap once or twice a week is okay. When you are sleep teaching you may find that you are going to emergency nap at least once a day. This will get better with time and consistency.


If you have any questions please feel free to comment on this post or send Parenting Foundations a Private message if you are a member of Parenting Foundations membership. Not a member yet? Click here for more information.


When Should Naptime Be a Thing of the Past for Your Child?

When Should Naptime Be a Thing of the Past for Your Child?

I am dreading the day that my son is no longer napping. I love naptime. This is when I get to recharge my battery while working and getting other stuff done around the house without my two-year-old in tow.

It is a normal part of development when nap times start changing.  How will you know it’s time to reduce the number of naps your child has in one day?  The most important tip you should bring away from this post is that this is a guide and all children are individuals who will meet various milestones at a different pace.

Before we can decide if our child should be dropping a nap we need to understand how much sleep a child needs and how many naps are optimal.

The following is a guideline of how many hours of sleep (nighttime and naps added together) a child needs:

  • Newborn (0 – 3 months of age) about 16 – 18 hours per day
  • 3 – 6 months of age about 15 hours per day
  • 6 – 12 months of age about 14 hours per day
  • 12 months of age and up about 12 – 13 hours per day

The average number of naps a child needs per day is as follows:

  • Newborns (zero to three months) at least four to five naps a day.
  • Three to six months at least three times a day.
  • Six to fourteen months should have 2 naps a day.
  • Fourteen months to three years seem to do well with one nap.

What are the signs to look for when deciding if your child will benefit from dropping a nap?

  • Nap length is decreasing
  • Child’s ability to stay awake and function well is improving
  • Crying or playing in his/her crib for 30 minutes or longer before falling asleep
  • Child is sleeping longer for one nap and the other nap is getting shorter
  • Child is having an afternoon nap without issue but nighttime becomes a problem.

Another important thing to mention is that when your child is reaching a new developmental milestone (i.e. walking or talking) naptimes often are affected.  Wait two weeks of seeing the signs to drop a nap before you drop a nap!! Changing sleep patterns can take the body 4 to 6 weeks to fully adjust so you must be patient when reducing naps.  Remember most things get worse before they get better!!

T care and happy sleeping,

Brenda McSween