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The Fast & Furious Route to a Perfect Nap Routine

Babies = Chaos.  A loveable chaos…but still chaos.


What if I told you that it doesn’t have to be this way?

That you can spot a kind of loose rhythm to your baby’s cues that will save yourself a world of worry and pain  later on in the day?

I’m going to share the typical daily baby napping routines that you can use as a road map to follow your baby’s signals all the way to Pleasantville.

To paraphrase Vin Diesel…”Ride or Die” = Routine or Disaster  

(melodramatic, but you get what I mean).

The Hunky Hubster and I rented the Fate of the Furious last weekend, so it’s been on my brain. Dearest readers! How you suffer through my movie phases!

So what “should” the perfect baby routine look like?  Depends.  Hence the air quotes around “should”.

That perfect baby routine depends on…

  • How old your baby is.
  • What temperament your baby has.
  • Whether you are home all day or have to work, etc.
  • Where around the world Winken, Blinken, and Nod are currently cruising in their wooden shoe… (Congratulations on reading the only article in the universe that links action star Vin Diesel with a 19th century lullaby.)

Today we’re going to go through several very basic examples of “typical” baby routines at different ages to give you something to refer back to as your baby grows.

Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce our two drivers for today’s Baby Routine Race.

Meet Ned Normal and Sue Standard.

These are the world’s most boring babies.  Everything they do is exactly on the expert’s suggested schedule (who, in this case, is Kim West…)

Keep in mind that your little princess may suddenly shout “SCREW YOU SUE!” and create her own routine.

That’s totally fine.  My goal, remember, is to give you some road signs to watch for.

Always place what your baby is telling you over what you read here. You are the expert on YOUR baby. Not me. 🙂

A Fast & Furious Nap Routine
for a 1 Month Old

Ned Normal is going to be sleeping anywhere from 16 to 18 hours per day.  This means, that most of his day will be spent in Slumberland.

That’s usually divided between…

  • 8.5-10 hours of (interrupted) sleep at night.
  • 6-7 hours of daytime sleep.
  • Which is a whole slew of naps. (The exact # is hard to predict at this age.)

Warning: Naps Ahead

Grab a piece of paper and start writing down the times your baby eats and sleeps. For Ned Normal, you can expect to see sleepy road signs after every hour of waketime. You can see an example of this in How to Rock Out a Newborn Schedule.

A Fast & Furious Nap Routine
for a 2-3 Months Old

The two-month-old baby will require pretty much the same amount of sleep as the one-month old.  The only usual exception is that instead of waking two-three times at night for feedings, she may only be waking once or twice.

Sue Standard will still be napping 3-4 times a day, at pretty disorganized times.  This is when her brain will start to understand the difference between daytime sleeping and nighttime sleeping.

You can move that snooze to the fast lane by making the room very dark and quiet (with a noisemaker to block the daily sounds) during naptimes.

Somewhere close to the third month Sue Standard will fall into a 3-or 4-nap rhythm.  Visit this article to see an example of what that could look like. (Hint: I’ve got a printable schedule you may find handy!)

Yield to Yawning

Once again, use your handy-dandy notebook to spot her natural EXIT FOR NAP signs. At this age, she’s not going to go more than an hour of waketime before she’s ready to sleep again!

A Fast & Furious Nap Routine
for a 4-5 Months Old

Ned Normal can usually go about 8 hours at night between feedings, and a five month old may be able to go as long as 10 hours.  If this seems like a pipe dream, be encouraged!

Sometimes all you need are a few good pointers in the right direction.  As for naps, Neddy will nap around 3 naps, totally 4-5 hours during the day, with the average nap time around 90 minutes.

If this is NOT at all your experience, that’s okay! There’s a major sleep regression at this age that can mess everything up. You see, this is around the time that your newborn disappears and the BABY full emerges. There’s a ton of milestone growth here to catch!

STOP for Sleepy Signs

Ned usually shows the typical sleepy signs (glazed over eyes, moving slower, yawning) 1.5 hours after waking. That said, if he’s an infamous catnapper (less than 45 minutes) watch for that STOP EVERYTHING AND PUT TO BED neon flashing light as quickly as an hour after getting up.

A Fast & Furious Nap Routine
for a 6-8 Months Old

Sue Standard is usually able to sleep around 11 hours straight every night at this age. Yes, that means your baby should be able to sleep through the night! (Of course, that depends on your doctor’s agreement!)

Don’t panic, though, if she’s no cooperating. There are very gentle techniques we can use to get her used to eating less and sleeping more. I’d be happy to sit and help you create a plan.

Exit to Napville

You can start to expect the “Exit to Napville” road signs showing up for Sue Standard 2 to 2.5 hours after waking.

Typically she will take 3 naps every day, with the total daytime goal of being 3.5 hours of sleep. If you’re not sure how that should look, this scheduling article has a free printable that will come in handy!

Once again, if you aren’t getting any where near those numbers and feel discouraged, consider taking my Napping Know-How Webinar or signing up for a private Napping Session.

A Fast & Furious Nap Routine
for 9+ Months Old

At nine months, sweet little Ned Normal can sleep around 11 hours at night, uninterrupted.  He also likes to take two naps during the day, both between 1.5 and 2 hours long.

At this age, you need to walk a close line between too much and too little sleep.  If he sleeps too much in the morning, he won’t sleep in the afternoon…and the result is Godzilla, storming through the house and wreaking emotional (and if he’s walking, physical) havoc.

So at nine months you’ll want to limit his morning nap to 1.5 hours.  As he gets closer he gets to his first birthday, you can shorten that morning nap down to a single hour.

The exception to this is if he’s been sick or slept poorly one night, or had a very crazy-busy morning exercising his new crawling or walking skills.  Once in a while lengthening a morning nap could serve you really well, but making it habit could seriously scramble things up.

You also don’t want to let him nap before 8am in the morning, or else he’ll be too tired in the afternoon to have his Mega-Nap (which can last anywhere from 1-3 hours).

Usually the napping exit sign for the 9-12 month age begins to peek over the horizon at around 3 hours after the morning nap ended.  Watch your baby closely for his “tells” that he’s beginning to get sleepy and then scoop him up and start your napping baby routine.

If your baby only take short naps throughout the day, he’s most likely going to be over-tired by bedtime.  We can match your unique baby and specific parenting style to the strategy that will work best for you during a private Napping Session.

Merge into One Nap

Somewhere between 15 and 18 months old, he’ll start showing signs that he doesn’t need that morning nap: he’s sleeping through the night consistently, he’s taking for-ev-er to fall asleep for the morning nap, or is catnapping).  Not sure how to actually make that transition?  No prob, Bob. Got you covered.

For All the Nap-Haters Out There…

Some babies really just hate agreeing with all the other babies on how long to sleep.  Unfortunately, that’s murder on their parents, and it (quite honestly) isn’t all that great for them.

Resist the temptation to stop pushing for naps!  Sleep is just as important to that tiny brain as nutrition.  Both are needed for healthy growth and development.

If you are concerned about your baby’s daytime sleeping habits, sign up for a private Napping Session so we can help you create a personalized plan to better naps. You don’t have to just grit-your-teeth and accept a bleary-eyed exhausted existence.

If you are consistent, there is a definite sunrise peaking on the horizon!  

Have You Read These Yet?

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58 thoughts on “The Fast & Furious Route to a Perfect Nap Routine

  1. Thanks for the advice!

    So a quick clarification for a 9 month old. He’s pretty much down to 2 naps (aside from a few days here and there) and doing well. However his morning nap is always the longer nap and I’m gathering that it’s supposed to be the opposite. He sleeps 2-2.5 hours in the morning and his afternoon nap is only about an hour. Should I start waking him after an hour and a half during his morning nap (and then hopefully the afternoon nap will become longer?) Thanks!

    1. I would perhaps try to cap that morning nap at 2 hours. Then watch him closely and see if you can catch that afternoon nap sooner. The average waketime for a 9 month old is about 2 hours. Meaning, you should start moving him towards a nap 2 hours after he wakes from his LAST nap. Hopefully this can help!

  2. Hi,

    I have a little dilemma about my 11 and a half months old baby. Currently she’s teething, but as soon as its over I plan to do the Shuffle because she is accustomed to go to sleep while I rock her. Thus she usually wakes up 40 min after going to sleep crying and needing me to rock her back to sleep and another time around 5 o’clock in the morning – much harder to rock her to sleep so once in a while I (unfortunately) take her into our bed and she falls asleep after I feed her. There are some nights when she sleeps through the night with just little whimpers in the middle of the night and others where she wakes up several times crying.
    I know what to do at night during the Shuffle (have the book) and I know that she will eventually fall asleep (have tried it before with short lived success due to teething), but what to do at naptime? Sleep lady suggests using motion (stroller, carseat etc) if all else fails, but my lo sleeps only for 40 min in stroller and car seat and it will not be enough. It is already hard enough to put her down for naps, I can’t imagine that she will go to sleep during daytime on her own and I fear that it will be a nightmare with crying at night and little sleep at daytime. If I stop rocking her during night time, it also applies for naptime, right? Somehow it seems that there is no other way, but maybe there are some little tricks that can help? I’m trying to introduce a lovey, but no success, there is also a stuffed animal that she likes in her bed, but she hasn’t chosen it as her nighttime pal yet…

  3. My son just turned 7 months. From 2-4 months he slept 6 hours straight at night and was good at going down for naps but the naps were in his schedule. From 4-5 months and currently, he hates to sleep. He’s so Curious and thinks he’s missing something so he fights naps and night time sleeping. He typically is sleepy around 730-830, if I catch him at the right time, he goes right to sleep but will only go to sleep with me holding him. My fiancé has a very short temper and patience so he never gets him to sleep. He will sleep about 2 hours and wake fussing and crying, sometimes I can go to his crib and catch him soon enough to pat his back back to sleep but if not then he does the hysterically crying and has thrown up from crying, hits his head on the crib, and fights so hard. Typically nursing him (comfort nursing usually) is the only way to calm him down. My fiancé hardly ever gets up with him, (I’ve tried multiple times). And when he does, he gives it a couple min and brings him to me and he goes back to sleep…so it’s always me. Sometimes I can nurse him back to sleep and put him back down but most of the time he won’t let me put him back down, without crying and screaming. So needless to say, I barely get sleep and if I want him to sleep, I have to hold him, and id like to get him off night time feedings so I’m not being used as a pacifier. His nap times last anywhere from 15 min to 2 hours…. After 15 min and waking he’s still very tired but refuses to sleep. I can’t lay him down anywhere for his naps either, he just wants to sleep on me. I’m exhausted, I cry, I want and need help and I need him to sleep…. Please tell me there’s hope and give me some advice? I’m desperate. CIO hasn’t worked, soothing him doesn’t work, my fiancé doesn’t have the patience to attempt to get him to sleep so he doesn’t smell me or see me, I just don’t know what to do and I’m ready to pull my hair out.

    1. Hi Nicole,
          I’m sorry for this delay to your response! I wrote back to you but somehow it never posted.
      I am so sorry for your difficulty. Really, you must be so exhausted. I want you you to be encouraged that yes, there IS hope. It sounds like your son started having trouble sleeping during his 4 month regression. This is a special time when his brain makes quantum leaps in his cognitive development. While this is very exciting, because he is so stimulated, aware and able to learn so much more about his surroundings, it can also be a bothersome interrupter of sleep. It sounds like he started having trouble at that point and you did what we ALL do – you found ways to get him back asleep. Trust me – we’ve all been there. We call these new little habits sleep crutches – and while they seem like gold at the beginning,, they never last. So, this is why he continues to wake more and more – and why the comfort nursing doesn’t seem to be cutting it. This can be helped though!
          You are right in that it is helpful to catch him at his sleepiest. It is also very helpful to have  dark room with a sound barrier of some sort (sound machine). Along with these things, it is very important to have a good bedtime routine (that s used for naps as well). For instance: nurse, read books, turn light out (or close shades), rock and quietly sing, then lay him  while he is drowsy but still awake. One of the things you will want to work on is the disassociation between nursing and sleep. In other words, by all means continue to nurse, but do it in a well lit room (maybe even before you take him to his room) so that nursing is for eating and bedtime is for sleeping. He will not love this at first (naturally) but you don’t have to leave him alone after you lay him down! Certainly stay and comfort – reaching over the crib to pat and reassure as needed until he is asleep. If he becomes hysterical (as you mentioned) you should definitely pick him up to calm him! When he has calmed down and is sleepy, lay him back down and continue to pat and verbally reassure him as needed until he is asleep. Your BIGGEST key to success is consistency. The more you cheat, the more he continues to wake. Trust me. Once he s sleeping better at night, he will likely sleep better during the day as well. Sleeps begets sleep in a baby’s world.
           I hear your frustration and can imagine that you need support. If I can be that for you, just let us know. I would be so happy to walk you through to better sleep – very soon. It CAN be done – I promise.  Take good care, Amy

  4. Thanks so much for your reply. I think you’re right he’s going through some changes. Since I wrote this comment, his naps have gotten a bit more fragmented, but his night sleep has improved somewhat. He’s still waking up at least once a night needing to be soothed and usually also once a night when he’s clearly hungry, but I’m hoping with time that will get better. I try to put him down for naps and bedtime sleepy but awake. So far it seems counterproductive to let him get to the stage of actually crying when he wakes at night because then he’s really awake and much harder to settle.

  5. My son is just coming up on 16 weeks. Until a few weeks ago, things seemed to be going well at night. He’d often do six hours on the first stretch at night (going down between 8:30-9:30), have a feed, and then sleep another 3-4 hours. His naps however were very unstructured and getting increasingly difficult. As I’m going back to work and can’t BF on demand anymore, we started a three-hour EASY routine, putting him down, swaddled and in his crib, for naps. He started to nap well, often doing 1.5 hours for each of the first three naps (sometimes requiring a pat to get him through), but his night sleeping has been all over. With the exception of one odd night when he slept nine hours straight (!), he’ll now often start crying only a few hours after we put him down. He seems to be unable to sleep more than fours hours straight at night now. We have a bedtime routine that’s been consistent, we keep the nursery dark at night and so on, but I’m at a loss. Has our nap routine confused him? We are keeping to the one nightly feed as before, but having to get up multiple times to calm him. Any ideas?

    1. Hi Sara! VERY good question, thanks for asking. I have good news for you. Your little guy is very likely RIGHT at the 4 month cognitive growth spurt. At this exciting time in his young life he is having a flurry of cognitive brain growth and activity. What this means. practically speaking, is that he is highly and easily stimulated while he is awake AND while sleeping.  It is exciting because he is absorbing and learning about life all around him. It is also a tiny bit frustrating because it often times interrupts sleep.  I know what you’re think…Didn’t she say something about good news? Yes! The good news is that it is explainable (is that really a word?)  and not permanent.

      So, to answer more specifically, yes – your change in naps could be affecting his night time sleep, but it sounds like your nap changes are a good fit – since he’s napping like a champ! It is more likely that this night time hiccup is due to this 4 month cognitive awareness growth. He may grow through this on his own by waking a bit but self soothing within a few minutes and going back to sleep. Or, because babies hit non-rem cycles more often than adults and because he is more easily stimulated now, he feels more awake than usual and  may need a little a little help to get back to sleep. First thing to keep in mind is to make sure that his room is dark and has a sound buffer of some sort. Also, be very aware of how many calories he is getting during the day. He may be having a physical growth spurt as well and may truly need extra calories during the day to help him get through the night. You can certainly go in to sooth him (once you have decided that he is truly awake and isn’t helping himself back to sleep) and give him some reassuring pats while he is still lying down – with some quiet verbal comfort. Try not to over do it though and create a sleep crutch – where he needs you to stay and sing or pat until he is back asleep every time.

      I hope that this has been very helpful Sara. You little one is at a great age to consider sleep coaching if you come to need it. Or, even one of our one hour sessions together to tweak through this night time change. Sounds like you’re doing great!


  6. My son is just coming up on 16 weeks. Until a few weeks ago, things seemed to be going well at night. He’d often do six hours on the first stretch at night (going down between 8:30-9:30), have a feed, and then sleep another 3-4 hours. His naps however were very unstructured and getting increasingly difficult. As I’m going back to work and can’t BF on demand anymore, we started a three-hour EASY routine, putting him down, swaddled and in his crib, for naps. He started to nap well, often doing 1.5 hours for each of the first three naps (sometimes requiring a pat to get him through), but his night sleeping has been all over. With the exception of one odd night when he slept nine hours straight (!), he’ll now often start crying only a few hours after we put him down. He seems to be unable to sleep more than fours hours straight at night now. We have a bedtime routine that’s been consistent, we keep the nursery dark at night and so on, but I’m at a loss. Has our nap routine confused him? We are keeping to the one nightly feed as before, but having to get up multiple times to calm him. Any ideas?

  7. Thank you for your reply! I put him down for his first nap drowsy, but awake this morning and he fell asleep with a little encouragement (I ran my hand over his eyes for about 30 seconds as they had popped back open when I set him down!) I will have to trial and error what works to get him through the 45 minute mark. I may enlist your services at the 4 month regression when we get there (just around the corner, too!)
    I find no reason to have him fuss or cry at this age. He is very young and I don’t want to break the trust we have built that I will come for him when he needs me. He rarely cries or fusses so I don’t want to give him a reason to do so. He is happy to kick around in his pack and play when he wakes, which makes it hard to tell that he has woken from a cycle and didn’t go back to sleep! It is as dark as possible in our room so I may just have to beat him to the punch and be ready to lull him back to sleep when he cycles.
    Be in touch about the coaching session 🙂

    1. That sounds great, Morgan. We’re here if you need us. Have a wonderful weekend!

  8. My 11 week old has been sleeping very well at night for weeks. We have a bedtime routine that includes bath, nursing with stories, pacifier and I hold him (no rocking or movement) until he is in a deep sleep. He sleeps from about 8 to 230, eats and goes right back down. We are trying to establish a wake up time, but so far it is somewhat unpredictable. Sometimes we have a 530 wake up call which I treat as a night waking and feed, diaper change (quickly and quietly) and back to bed. Usually anywhere between 7 and 8 is our goal wakeup depending on what time the early morning waking came. I am trying to do 2 things: 1. Extinguish the need to hold him until he is in a deep sleep at bedtime and 2. Get him napping properly during the day on a 3 hours routine. I have been slowly reducing the amount of time I hold him at bedtime in the hopes that I can put him down drowsy by the 3.5 month mark. I fear that I will inadvertently disrupt his excellent nighttime sleep if I rush this process. We have the 45 minute intruder during nap time and I am not finding the right solution to coach him through the transition.
    So my questions are: what is the best way to get him to bed without holding him into a deep sleep? (I want to be prepared for the 4 month regression!) And how can I get him through the 45 minute intruder? I’ve tried sitting with him quietly reassuring him and pick up/put down (maybe I haven’t been consistent enough in one or the other?). Finally, can I work on nighttime and daytime sleep at the same time?
    Any help is greatly appreciated! He is a happy little guy and I just want to help him stay happy and healthy and sleep is such a big factor!

    1. Morgan,

      It’s very common for babies at this age to be all over the map when it comes to their sleep. Especially since the 12 week Growth Spurt is right around the corner!

      #1. Smart thinking about treating the 5:30 wakeup as a night feeding! *highfive* Good instincts on that!

      #2. Try putting him down for the first nap of the day drowsy but awake, perhaps at a 7 on a 10 scale? Usually this new skill is easier to teach with the first nap of the day. If he fusses though, don’t despair. This is a skill that will be easier for him to learn as he gets older. Just keep practicing.

      #3. At this age, I’ve found the most effective techniques are sleep shaping techniques, rather than coaching directly. Amy and I would love to help you one-on-one with some of those techniques. Would you be available next week, say Tuesday or Thursday, to talk on the phone? If so, click here to see what Super Sleep Sessions look like.

      #4. You can work on nighttime and daytime sleep at the same time…but it depends a LOT on the temperament and readiness of your baby. Babies who aren’t 100% ready for coaching will take twice as long and cry twice as hard when they’re not ready. Which is why we assess the babies and then work with you on using the sleep shaping techniques, or the sleep coaching, depending on the situation and doctor’s feedback.

      I hope this can be helpful for you, Morgan! You sound like a very attentive and wonderful mother. He is a blessed baby to have you! xo

  9. Are these seminars good for a two month old? I’m having problems with my little one taking naps and sleeping at night. Im using the cry it out method but it saddens me to see him cry to exhaustion to fall asleep. It works sometimes in the mornings sometimes it doesnt. Ive tried to sooth him, sing to him, rock him, but when he hits the bassinet he goes crazy. I had to take out his pacifier because I was waking up 20 times at night and day to put it in his mouth. He doesnt like the waba nu pacifiers. I give him the pacifier in the mornings if he gets too cranky. He does sleep at night time with a swaddle the halo one not in the morning for naps.
    He has reflux and is taking medications.
    My problem is putting him to sleep, and for him to fall back asleep.

    1. The nap coaching webinar is for babies 18 months and up. I’m not surprised you’re having a hard time with the Cry-It-Out method, it can be particularly difficult for babies that young – especially refluxing babies who may not be feeling well. Are you having him sleep on an incline? Using a swing, or a baby bean bag like this may also be helpful. You may also find some of our free Super Sleeper Tips helpful as well. Sign up for these here. Hang in there, Clara. Every day is one day closer to better rest!

  10. Hi. My two month old and I are struggling with napping. I have tried putting him down while he’s drowsy but awake which turns into him crying shortly after. He will not stay in his swing, bouncer, or bassinet for very long and cries until he is picked up/held. I try keeping a darker room, he is swaddled, and we use a white noise machine. Another pattern that has developed is he keeps spitting out his pacifier which I then try to give back several times. I am confused as to what my approach should be at this age, and what can I try to help him sleep/stay asleep. At this point I believe he is habituating instead of napping and I know he gets very tired. Also I want to start transitioning him into his crib which is in his own room instead of sleeping in his bassinet next to my bed, since he is outgrowing his bassinet quickly. Any tips/advice would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Charlene,

      Sleep can be confusing at this age! I think that this article about the 2-3 month schedule will really help. Heather addresses what are good expectations for this age. I know it’s always been helpful for me to know what my baby can or cannot handle developmentally (for example, I think it really helps to know that babies can’t really self soothe until after they pass their 4 month milestones). Hope this gives you what you need! If you want to read more about sleep, here’s a great collection of articles to look at. Some will help now and some of them will be a help in the future.

  11. Hi, I have a 12-month-old. Until a few weeks ago, she was not a great night sleeper, but lately she’s gotten down to one waking and is sleeping much better. This happened because she had a big sleep regression when she started walking at her birthday, but crying it out worked really well. She’s more able now to put herself to sleep is she’s put in the crib awake, and she must be soothing herself to sleep during the night.
    I’ve experimented with our nap routine, because she’s never been able to sleep longer than 30 minutes unless she’s in her car seat or something like that. Now that she’s sleeping more at night, it’s almost impossible to get her down for her normal morning nap 3 hours after the morning waking. We’ve always gotten her to sleep for naps breastfeeding in a carrier being bounced, so some pretty major sleep crutches. So it’s really frustrating to spend a lot of time trying, possibly finally get her to sleep, have to change schedules accordingly, and then only have her sleep for a half hour.
    I know it’s early to transition to one nap, but I really want to nap train in some form, and that seems really hard to do if she’s not tired enough for sleep even with her crutches. So my thought is to put her down at 12:30 consistently and do some nap training- soothe her but don’t use crutches, and then work on getting her to soothe herself if she wakes up too early. What do you think?

    1. Malinda,

      This sounds like it might work. Also, just because it’s a bit early for the one nap transition doesn’t mean it’s the wrong time for your little one. Both my 3rd and my 4th born transitioned to one nap earlier than expected. It worked fine for them (and well for my schedule too!). The only thing I would warn against is missing her sleep cues. If she gets too tired before the noon nap time then you might fall into the “too tired to sleep” cycle, don’t want to go there! 🙂
      If you decide you want a little nap time help, Heather’s Napping Webinar is great. It’s also a very good price ($19.95), such a wonderful deal for the priceless gift of good sleep!

  12. Hi,

    Before I sign up for your webinar I just wanted to see if I need it and what you think:

    Matilda is 6 months.

    She sleeps 7-7 with a 10pm dream feed (I will drop this feed after she pops a few teeth)


    Her day sleeps- she has 3 or 4 naps a day which only go for 30-40 minutes. She goes to sleep on her own no feeding or patting I just put her down and walk out. No issues.

    Should I be going to the effort of making these sleeps longer? Or is it unnecessary? She is a pretty happy chubby baby.

    Also if I do it will have to be the afternoon sleep I make longer as we are generally busy morning and midday. Is this possible?

    1. Amelia, if she is happy and sleeping well at night, and you’re happy, I would leave well enough alone. 🙂 That said, if she starts waking more at night, or if you start seeing her sleep during the day get worse and she seems grumpier and not well rested…then perhaps you should try to stretch those naps. Normally, I would encourage parents to try to get their baby to nap for about an hour or more, to give her really good rest. HOWEVER, if night waking isn’t a problem, and you feel she’s not seeing any ill effects during the day…I’d let it go. You’re the expert in this case, and if you don’t feel it’s broke…well then, you don’t need to fix it! (Oh, BTW, 3-4 naps is normal at this age. The usual total daytime sleep for a child at 6 months is around 3.5 hours, but use her attitude and nighttime wake ups as your guide on that.) Hope this helps!

  13. My son is 6 months old and has been able to roll from his back to his tummy for about 3 weeks.  He used to be great at self-settling – I’d put him down for naps awake and 3 minutes later he’s sleeping.  Now that he can roll, that’s all he wants to do… except he hasn’t figured out how to continue rolling to get himself on his back again.  So when I put him down for naps awake he’s onto his tummy right away, has some fun for a while, realizes he’s “stuck” and starts yelling…which leads to me continually going into his room to roll him back over, and the cycle continues until he’s overtired and full-on crying.  The only thing that works is if I eventually put him in his stroller & wheel him around for a few minutes and he’s asleep. Is this a phase?  What do I do?!

    1. Bailey,

      It’s so funny the first time this happens but not so funny when it makes it hard for sleep to happen, huh? 🙂
      I suggest you take a look at this article on sleep. In the article there is a description of how to make a “U” shaped form under the sheets to help the baby when the mattress needs to be on an incline. I recommend you try this for your little one to keep him from rolling. Just be sure that the rolled part doesn’t go up any higher than his arm pits for safety (so, it’s not a breathing obstruction!). Hope this helps!

  14. My son is 10 weeks and he frequently has a really long nap in the afternoon, today 3.5hrs approx, should I be waking him? He tends to go to bed between 9.30 and 11 pm at the moment and quite often has another nap between 7 and 8 pm. I am trying to start a routine (loosely as I know he’s young for it so far) and I’m not sure if he’s tired later because of all the sleeping in the afternoon and early evening?

    1. Vicki,
      I think the first question to ask is, is this schedule working for you and your family? If so, I wouldn’t make any changes now. He is still such a little guy and the important thing is that he gets enough sleep. If the late bedtime is not good for your schedule then you could go ahead and try cutting his 3.5 hour nap time short by 30 minutes). This could make the difference!

  15. I have actually tried putting his naps of and it backfires every time into one 30 min nap instead! He sleeps through night fine so I don’t feel like it is a disability to transition through sleep cycles but am out if ideas. If I go in and lay him bk down and pat him, sometimes I can walk off and get him to go another 15 min more. Do u think gradually putting off his morning nap over the course of a week or two would be beneficial? I feel like the article (which was extremely yelpful a year ago when I read it!) does not apply in this instance. He has a small pillow, stuffed animal and blankie and goes down fine but can’t seem to sleep longer than half hour!! 🙁

    1. Sannetta,
      If you can get to him before he wakes and lay next to him that might work better. You are just trying to help him learn to get past that wake window without fully waking up so he can get to a deeper sleep cycle.

      Try it for a couple of days, if it doesn’t work then try for the transition to afternoon naps only. Some kids need less sleep or just do better with one big chunk. (My third born was that way, he slept from 11-2)

  16. My little guy is only taking two 30 min naps a day? He seems tired at 3 hours up and then again at 3 hours later but only sleeps 30 minutes. Should i be trying to extend his wait time?! You have helped me so much in the past, help me again…..PLEASE: )

    1. Sannetta,

      Just saw your reply to my question. Yes, it would be great if you could extend those 30 minute naps! Start by reading this article to make sure that you have covered all your bases in helping him sleep longer. There is a possibility, however, that he may be trying to transition to one long nap to take the place of two. This often happens sometime between 12-18 months. Try holding off on his nap until late morning if you can. If this helps him to sleep longer then try alternating between one nap and two nap days. On the days that he only takes one nap you can try putting him to bed a little earlier for the night. Hope these suggestions will help you figure out the next stage of napping for your little guy! 🙂

  17. Thanks for your reply Heather! Do you mind elaborating “drowsy but awake”?
    This is what works or what I’ve been doing…If I’m lucky and catch the sleepy window (like you said, easiest in the morning nap), by the time I start singing lullaby her eyes flutter and I start to put her down, which usually she will nod off. Is this “awake” enough?
    Lately the problem is when I put her down and suddenly she startles and ends up wide eyed. I would then avoid taking her back out of crib and shush/pat her till she is asleep. If she screams like mad then I pick her up and shush/pat/rock till she calm and very very drowsy, practically asleep. And even then she only sleeps 30min.

    Is this ok until I make it past the 4month milestones?

  18. Hi Heather, (sorry I meant to post my comment on this page)

    I think your site is awesome and has offered some really good tips. I have simple question to ask: What do I do if my baby suddenly looks really awake after I put her down “drowsy but awake” and fights to sleep?
    I started to implement a nap/bedtime routine a few weeks ago and it went well. I’d get pretty good at capturing the sleepy window and take her into the room, read a book and sing a song. Her eyes would get droopy and I’ll put her in bassinet and she would doze off just like that and sleep 45min-1.5hr naps.
    But lately, her naps are totally wonky and she’s been waking up tons at night too. Is this the 4month sleep regression that I’ve been dreading? (she’s almost 17weeks).
    It’s gotten so bad that she now will only sleep 35min naps and wake almost every hour at night with us rocking and holding her till she is asleep before putting her down.
    We are so exhausted, how can we continue to put her down “drowsy but awake” so she can learn to self soothe, but not exhaust her from not being able to fall asleep?

    She is so sleep deprived she yawns already within 5min of waking up only lasts barely 1.5hr before she gets really tired and cranky. Which means I’m putting her down for naps all day. Help!!

    1. Thanks Sharon! I’m glad you’re enjoying it! Firstly, it sounds like you’re doing a great job of locating her natural sleep window. That’s wonderful. 🙂 It sounds like she may not be ready for sleep coaching. I would go back to doing “what works” for a few more weeks. Try the “Drowsy but awake” thing for the morning nap only for a few days, since the morning nap is usually the easiest. When she’s ready to sleep coach (after her 4 month milestones – you’ll notice she’s a lot more alert during the day), then start concentrating on the nighttime sleeping habits first. If you’re still having trouble, sign up for my workshop so we can go over her history form and then talk out a workable and effective coaching plan. 🙂

  19. I love your sandman shuffle. We have changed our routine so many times to fit what seems best for the baby. She is 7.5 months and crawling furiously as well as standing up lots. We have NEVER gotten on the 7pm to 7am routine, but instead are more like 9-10pm to 9-10am. She just won’t do it – her most active time is 6-9pm. This also works with our family’s lifestyle and culture.

    Nighttime: We co-slept until 4-6 months, when she started kicking a lot (turns out she was hungry), then successfully had her in the crib with a 2am and 5am waking (I’m breastfeeding, so this is normal and should not be stopped – per lactation consultant). She napped 3 times, 2 hours, 1.5 and 30-45min, just adjusted times for our adjusted schedule. HOWEVER, I was not well and suffered adrenal fatigue from the excessive cortisol of waking up in the middle of the night to her crying and not being able to get back to sleep. She was also on a nursing strike for most of that time, which was incredibly stressful. So, we decided to go back to co-sleeping and we are all much happier and she is full on breast feeding again. So hooray. We get 12 hours of sleep with a few small interruptions for nursing, which are WAY better than the 5 alarm waking up, going down the hall, stressing will she stay asleep, when will she next get up, etc. My relationship with her is much improved.

    Our problem: She has suddenly refused to nap. Maybe a total of 1-2 hours a day, when she used to do 4-5. Sometimes only 30 min stretches a day. AND, she refuses to go in the crib – screams hysterically at contact and for minutes afterwards. I was doing the shuffle, but I can’t even sit beside her – it makes her more and more mad. We did just lower the crib since she can pull on the bars and stand up.

    I believe this is just a weird sleeping month, she is breaking her first tooth and too excited about crawling. However, I can get her to nap if I hold her still and lay with her, but this isn’t safe for me to leave her, even with our bed on the floor. I think this is a trust issue between us and she is still mad about the CIO we did before we found the shuffle.

    We are committed cosleepers with a different schedule that has been working up until now, but really want her in the crib for naps. She napped in the crib up until now, so when we were cosleeping before and all during our 9-9 routine.

    Any advice?

    1. Jennifer, it sounds like you’re really in-tune with what your baby may be going through. That’s great! Your instincts may be spot on about the CIO thing, sometimes it takes time to rebuild some of the trust with some kids. Well done on picking up on that! Also, it’s great that you’ve found the schedule that seems to works best for your family. That can look different for each family, and as the mom, you would know that best! The Napping Know-How Webinar goes through (in much detail) how you can stretch naps using different methods. My first suggestion is to have some happy play times in the crib every day. Where she sits and plays with you while she’s inside the crib for a few days. Then have her play inside the crib while you’re sitting down next to her for a few days, etc… The goal is to help her see that the crib/nursery is a happy place to be. The more secure she feels in that, the better she may be as you start to work through the shuffle (or another method) with her. Start with that and see if it helps!

  20. I have a question. You have helped me since my babies (ID girls) were born, thank you for that. But once they stop the morning naps how long are the afternoon ones? And with the cutting back to the 1 hour in the morning (will be 1 in a few weeks) how long do I keep them awake till afternoon nap and how long is that one? I love you by the way, you are a life saver!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! xo =)

  21. Heather, I have a 2 month old and have been working on naps in her crib. Sometimes when I put her down she wakes up 30 minutes later and I hear her “talking” to the animals on her mobile. She will do that for about 10 minutes then start to cry. Should I wait to go in to get her back to sleep until she cries or go in as soon as she wakes up? What is the best way to help her learn to soothe herself? Thanks

    1. My guess is that the mobile is too stimulating. Try taking it down for a few days and see if that helps. It’s amazing how social some babies are! I had a client once whose baby (we discovered) was being stimulated by the elephants printed on the bumper! We flipped the bumper to the “boring side” and it worked wonders. LOL

  22. Hi, my baby Nora is 5 months actual age now, but actually 12 weeks corrected as she was born very premature. Poor thing has been suffering from very bad reflux and wanted to be cuddled and held all the time and she has been using me as her daybed for naps. I remember I lost hope and I was feeling so guilty about creating a bad habit and letting her sleep on me..till all of a sudden last week Nora simply decided she wanted to sleep in her moses basket and not be held anymore. (She has been crying in my arms for 1-2 hrs and once I put her down in her bed, she surprisingly settled and feels calm in her bed ever since). She is still far from a good napper, but I am thinking of starting to gently train her using Heather’s tips. I just wanted to tell all parents out there not to worry about giving their babies as much love and closeness as they need when they are very small and not to feel guilty about it like me and worry about sleep traing at such an early stage. Maybe once babies’ needs for comfort and security are met, this could even help them turn into independent sleepers at a later stage.

  23. I have a question about the time check method. I have to do this because I have a 3 yr old and he (17 wks) gets pissed if I stay in the room. In fact I learned this morning me coming in while he is babbling pisses him off too. He has 2 crutches me and the paci. I’m working on the sucking one first. So I rocked him to sleep for the third “nap”. We are talking his normal 45 min naps are down to 20min if I’m lucky, which I’m not today. After we get the paci habit gone and start on the habit on not having me hold him to sleep what do I do for my emergency plan? The emergency plan is to get him asleep no matter what but if I hold him that is defeating the purpose of the rest of the sleep shaping. I’m trying to plan ahead since this has been hell already and I know that “no holding” is going to make him really mad. Thanks so much. I’m getting so much help from your blog to help now and in the future.

    1. Becky, I know you emailed me about this and I’m just now getting to my emails/comments – my computer crashed and it’s in the “Computer Hospital” (That’s what Bella calls it. 🙂 )

      I would keep him on the paci. Sleep crutches are things that YOU have to do to get him to sleep. Things like rocking him, or patting him constantly, or bouncing him, or walking him…they are things that you do to your baby in order for him to fall asleep. Pacifiers are actually a great tool in helping him learn how to fall asleep by himself. Sucking is how babies self-soothe, at this young age, using a pacifier is very helpful in him learning to fall asleep on his own. Start there and see if that helps!

  24. Hi Heather

    My 13 week old baby only naps for one sleep cycle, 30-45 mins tops, then I have to hold her in order for her to get enough rest. I’ve tried waiting to see if she’ll self-sooth back to sleep but she just cries harder. I try to rock her in her room (which has curtains closed and white-noise on like bedtime) and lay her down again but she wakes as soon as she’s put down. How can we stretch out these naps? I have a friend who said her daughter did the same thing, and eventually she just started napping longer on her own…do I just wait it out? We do go see the paedeatrician next week (and we are moving this week, so it’s not a good week to start sleep training – which I think she’s a bit young anyways)

    I’m wondering if even with the curtains closed it’s still not as dark as nighttime, where she usually goes down without a fight and does anywhere from 4-6 hr stretches (sometimes 3) from. 10pm-7am (we usually only have to feed 1-2 times in the night), so Imconcused as to why she can’t sleep longer in the day.

    We try to follow an eat-play-sleep routine, eating every 3.5-4hrs, and she’s usually sleepy by 1.5-2 hrs after waking. The only difference is we let her sleep in the evening when she’s tired and sometimes end up waking her up for her bedtime routine, instead of only letting her sleep an hour in the evening, like your schedule suggests. Should we be waking her to quiet play a bit more in the evening before bed?

    Thanks! Lauren

    Ps – as a side note, Miss H won’t let her daddy settle her to sleep for the last week either! She lets him feed/play with her, but when she’s tired and getting cranky she just cranks harder when he holds her! How can I help with that?

    1. There are so many possibilities with a young baby like that, it’s hard for me to give you specific advice without doing a full assessment and working with you one-on-one. The first thing I would want to checkout is any possible medical reasons for the napping issues – like reflux, or a formula struggle, or allergies…all things that can make digestion difficult. I would definitely encourage you to keep at 48-hour feeding/sleeping log, and then show that with your doctor and (if applicable) lactation consultant. This is just to make sure there aren’t any medical reasons for all the wakeups.

      The 2nd thing that I would start working on is helping her go to bed earlier at night. In sleep coaching, we always work on the nighttime sleep first, and THEN the naps. I’ve found that things generally flow better that way. The best “bedtime” for babies is around 7:00-7:30pm.

      She really is too young for sleep coaching at this stage, but you could start doing some sleep shaping that can make a big difference. (Sometimes even making coaching unnecessary. If that interests you at all, drop me an email at heather@incredibleinfant.com and I can give you details.

  25. Hi Heather,
    I’d like to join your webinar, but the time doesnt work since I’m in Hong Kong time. Any advice please. TIA!
    Karen 🙂

  26. Hi Heather, my 10 months old son has 3 naps a day, each no longer than 40 mins. He seems to be tired 1,5 hours after waking in the morning (around 6am). He wakes up around 5 times a night and needs feeding to go back sleep every time. He falls asleep on his own (with some crying) at night and I usually feed him until he is very drowsy for his naps. I am soooo tired, everything else seems like too much effort! I feel like I’m loosing my mind! He seems to be tired all the time too. I have tried to extend the length of his naps by rubbing his back when he starts to wake up and it worked for two days. I was soooo happy but my son soon got used to it woke up after 40 mins again. It felt like I was back at square one and it made me so hopeless!! I don’t feel like anything I do will make a difference and I am so shattered what can I do??

    1. Sarah, oh friend! No wonder you’re exhausted! I would start by concentrating on his nighttime sleeping habits first. Napping is best addressed AFTER the nighttime wakenings are handled. First, talk over with your doctor his growth and ask how many feedings your son still needs at night. Does he need extra calories at night? or does the doctor feel he can go without? Then, once your doctor (and possibly your Lactation consultant if you have one) have weighed in, talk it over with your partner/spouse and ask if YOU think he still needs a late night feeding. If he does, decide when you’re going to feed him, and when you’re going to start coaching him to sleep.

      Then start putting him down drowsy but awake, and working through the Shuffle Method as consistently as you possibly can. (Consistency is really important – decide on your plan, decide how you’re going to soothe and reassure him, and then work the system you created!) It can improve Sarah! It just needs some dedicated attention and effort! You can get there, little steps first. 🙂

  27. Oh I need this class! My 10 month son’s naps are veeerrry inconsistent lately and he has started waking up at night multiple times. Mommy (and Daddy) are so tired! I will check out this webinar for sure.

    1. Will we receive info on how to link up to the webinar? What if we have computer problems? My computer is notorious for not working when I really need it to.

    2. Jenny, go http://nappinghelp.incredibleinfant.com and start the registration. I will be taping the class, so if there’s an issue during the class period, I can easily send it to you afterwards. But we’ll hope everything goes off without a hitch!

      I will be excited to have you in on the class Jenny! I’m very excited about it, I know it’s going to make a huge difference for families like yours!

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