While it is important to attempt to set a sleep schedule for newborn infants, the kids often have their own notions of how, when, and for how long they will sleep. There are some guidelines available though, that can help parents understand how their child’s sleep patterns will change with age.

Newborns will sleep much of the time, and this is natural. Most such children will take very frequent naps for the first portion of their life. And their total sleep in a single day and night period can often result in as few as five waking hours. This much sleep will help the infant support development of both brain and body.

With age, around about six months, children will begin to take fewer naps. Two or three such naps, usually about an hour to an hour and a half each, are normal. But doctors still recommend the children still spend more of their day and night asleep than conscious. Over the next three to six months, their sleep periods will begin to scale back a little, and many will usually need only two naps, plus the night, to get the needed sleep.

By one year of age, most children are only napping once a day. It will be a little longer than it used to be, but it will still be less sleep total than they once needed. It is important, however, that any nap at any age, not be too short. Naps that are too short can make the child irritable and tired.

Key Points:

  • 1Napping is an important developmental activity that changes with the age of the child and realistic expectations are important.
  • 2Between the newborn stage and approaching 3-4 years old, the frequency and length of naps will change based upon the child’s needs.
  • 3Consistency in napping schedules is important, resistance can be normal and transitions between phases can ease the process.

If you notice that your baby takes a long morning nap and a short afternoon nap, you may want to consider shortening the morning nap to no longer than 90 minutes.


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