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We know that sleep is essential for childhood development. In fact, children will spend 40% of their childhood asleep!

So, how much of that sleep should be from naps? How long should your baby nap for, and is there an age when napping should end? Here are some helpful napping tips, so you know where and when napping is best for your child.

Because children need so much sleep, especially in the first few years of life, napping is a great way to ensure they’re getting all the sleep they need.  Here’s how much sleep your little one needs to help keep their development on track:

  • Babies 0-3 months should sleep 12 to 17 hours a day
  • Babies 4 months to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours a day
  • Children 1 to 2 years of age should sleep 11 to 14 hours a day
  • Children 3 to 5 years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours a day

In order to meet these high hour totals, babies and children take naps throughout the day.

In their first year of life, babies typically nap 2-3 times a day. Most babies will take at least a morning nap and an early afternoon nap. Some babies take a third nap in the late afternoon, but it is recommended baby phase out of the third nap around 9 months so they are ready for an earlier bedtime.

By 12 months old, baby is usually down to just 1 nap per day. The morning nap typically ends around 12 months, meaning baby is just taking an afternoon nap at this point. You can make the afternoon nap and their bedtime earlier to help with the transition.

Before the age of 3, naps are typically 1-2 hours long. This helps your child get all the sleep they need! After turning 3, naps gradually shorten (possibly to just 1 hour), but there is no perfect amount of time to sleep.

There is no age when napping has to end, but most children phase out of napping by first grade. This is typically the age when children start full-day school, which can make napping more difficult. By this age, it is recommended that children get 9 to 12 hours of sleep per day, which is possible without a nap.

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Naps are best done is a dark and quiet environment. Even though the sun may be shining, try to make your child’s nap space as dark as possible so they can get a restful sleep. Always be sure to follow safe sleep guidelines, even if it’s just a short nap. Follow these best practices for baby’s sleep and child’s sleep.

Remember: every child is different! Schedules, nap lengths, and number of naps may vary. No matter how or when your baby naps, the best thing to try and do is be consistent with their schedule, which usually takes about 3 months to develop. A naptime routine may help with this.

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It’s also important to remember every day is different. While establishing a routine is great, there are going to be factors that disrupt routines. Do your best to keep the same routine even during holidays and weekends, but know that temporary changes may happen, and that’s okay! Aim to get baby back on track when you can.

If you feel like your child is having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, contact their healthcare provider.