It is a very important and widely known fact that both you and your baby both have a need to nap. While it might be easy for you to doze off at the drop of a hat, getting your child to nap can be a hard one to master. Your little one will go through so many nap transitions in the first 18 months so it is helpful to know what the typical or recommended pattern is.
The early days and months of your little one’s life are filled with plenty of naps, some lengthy (if you’re lucky) some short and (not so) sweet - which is also normal - however by the time your child is 6 months+, their nap rhythms will have started to form and the possibility of lengthier naps (for both of you) becomes much higher. In general, from 6 to 8 months of age, most children require three naps per day. The first and second of these naps are the most important and are the ones you should maintain in your child’s routine until the age of approximately 15 months. To that end, while you are working on establishing positive sleep practices, then ensuring napping happens in the cot for naps 1 and 2 is recommended.
It is recommended to introduce a “nap gap” dynamic from the age of 8 months to 18 months. This means allowing a gap of no more than four hours between the final nap and bedtime. This may mean you need to move the first and second nap later and bedtime forward to close this gap. Your child will now require two naps daily until approximately 15-18 months.
There is a common misconception that when your child reaches 12 months old, one nap is sufficient, however, this is rarely the case. Two naps are routinely required if your child is 12 months+ and still appears tired before 10 am. Many parents will report that their child is tired by 10 am but cannot manage another nap. In this case, limiting nap 1 to make room for nap 2 may be required for a period of time.
Finally, when your child is closer to 3 years old, they will no longer require a day-time nap and will be able to go from morning to bedtime without napping. However, it can be worth providing a rest or quiet time around the time that the nap would formally have happened.
Happy Napping (to you and your little ones)!