How much sleep does my baby or toddler need in the day?
Naps are vital to babies and young children and good daytime naps are the foundation of a good night’s sleep. A baby who eats and sleeps well in the day will tend to sleep regularly and more predictably at night.
It is important to consider all babies mature at different rates and your baby may happily be on a different napping schedule to your friend’s baby or toddler of the same age.
Check out our general napping guidelines below. Bear in mind a typical daytime sleep cycle length is about 45 minutes long. Sometimes your child will just sleep for one cycle and wake then for other naps she will join two or more cycles together, sleeping for 90 or 120 minutes.
Number and length of naps
Sleep tips for 6 and 9 months:
Between 6 and 9 months your baby can happily stay awake for 2 to 2 ½ hours and have 3 naps a day.
Often made up of two naps of about 45 minutes each in the morning and late afternoon and one of about 90 minutes around lunchtime.
Most babies will be having an average of 3 hours sleep a day at this age.
Between 9 and 12 months:
As babies between 9 and 12 months are happily able to stay awake for about 3 to 3 ½ hours now, your baby is likely to have an average of 2 naps a day
By 9 months, her morning and middle of the day naps will naturally shift later, meaning she will drop her late afternoon nap and her total daily napping average will be 2- 3 hours.
Naps are often made up of two naps of about 45 minutes in the morning and about 90 minutes mid afternoon. To “protect” your baby’s bedtime it is best for her to be awake by 3.30 pm.
Most babies in this age group have an average of about 2 ½ hours sleep a day.
12 months plus:
Somewhere between 12 and 15 months toddlers consolidate all their daytime sleep into one single nap.
How to help your toddler transition to one day a day:
The transition from two to one nap a day is one that some toddlers find difficult. Your child may be having a nice long morning nap, at her usual nap time, but then refuse to have a 2nd nap later in the afternoon. By bedtime she is over tired, over wrought and struggles to go to sleep. Or she may not be tired enough for her usual morning nap, but becomes over tired and fussy if she has to wait until after her lunch to have her snooze.
To ease your toddler through this transition try gradually cutting down her morning nap by 10 minutes each day and slowly moving her afternoon nap to just after lunch. Then when the morning nap has stopped completely you may need to temporarily offer your toddler an early lunch until she adjusts to happily staying awake all morning.