Day Time Naps – FAQs

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As a Sleep Consultant I work with lots of clients who panic over daytime naps. Parents are often stressed and anxious that a bad night is on the cards if naps don’t go to plan. Here are some FAQ’s I receive about day time naps as well as my answers.

How much day time sleep does my little one need?

Every child is different. Sleep charts should really be used just as a general guide. You can see my charts here. The best indicator that your child is getting enough sleep is that they wake up happy, are engaging positively in play activities, eating well and lasting an appropriate length of time between naps.

What type of nap schedule should my little one be on?

Again, every child is different. There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to a daily routine and nap schedules. Rather than trying to get your child to fit in to a prescribed nap schedule, work on ensuring an appropriate amount of sleep accumulated over a 24hr period (see the sleep chart for a guide).

I would however suggest a cut off point for naps to help work with your baby’s natural sleepy hormones. Again, every baby is different but as a general rule I would advise a nap no later than 4pm for a 6-9 month old with a 6.30/7pm bedtime and a nap no later than 3pm for a 9 month old + with a 6.30/7pm bedtime.

How can I get my child to do a 2 hour lunch time nap?

I am not sure who wrote the rule book on “the 2 hour lunch nap” but lots of children fail to do this until they have gone down to one nap a day, and even then they may never sleep as long as 2hrs. If your child is waking up sooner than this and is happy and refreshed then they have had enough sleep – put down the books and take your child’s lead.

My little one wakes up after 45 minutes on the dot, how can I encourage a longer nap?

A 30-45 minutes nap is very common and usually indicates a one cycle sleeper. Again, this is nothing to worry or panic about if your little one is waking up happy. However, if they are waking up miserable and clearly still tired there is a technique you can try.

  • Note down the time that your baby normally wakes up. Go in to their room in advance of this (5-10 mins).

  • Before they start to rouse you should place your hand gently on your baby.

  • If you think that this is actually causing your baby to rouse then you can wait until you see that they are shuffling/stirring before you place a hand on them.

  • Sooth them anyway which they respond to – the aim is to help your little one move into their next sleep cycle without waking up fully.

  • If your baby wakes up completely and is not easily soothed or cries: just pick them up and then try again next time.

Other things which can help a nap naturally extend include;

  • Making sure your little one is able to self-settle at the start of naps.

  • Keeping the room dark.

  • White noise (for the length of the nap).

  • Placing them in their swaddle or grobag for naps.

  • Making sure they are tired enough (but not overtired) as they go to sleep.

For further advice or support with any sleep issue please contact vikki@allaboutbabies.org.uk