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Naps for babies and toddlers

Naps are very important for babies and toddlers. Children usually continue to nap until around age 3. Read about when your baby or toddler should nap and how you can help them nap

It is important for your baby or toddler to take naps during the day. Children who are well rested find it easier to get to sleep at night. Children will usually continue to take naps until around age 3.

Naps can help their:

  • growth
  • development
  • health

When your baby or toddler should nap

Babies nap for between 3 to 4 hours per day. At 2 months of age, your baby will take around 4 naps a day. They will reduce this to 1 in the middle of the day at around 12 to 15 months of age.

You should space out the length of time between your baby or toddler's naps.

A baby or toddler who naps frequently will not get the same benefit as one who has solid naps. Look at how long they have been awake and judge when they're due to sleep.

Spacing out naps

  • Up to 3 months: there should be 1 to 2 hours between naps
  • 3 to 6 months: there should be 2 to 2.5 hours between naps
  • 6 to 9 months: there should be 2.5 to 3 hours between naps
  • 1 year or over: 1 nap a day
  • 3 years or over: phase out naps

Babies over 9 months of age should not sleep after 3.30 pm in the day. This is because it will cause difficulties with bedtime and may also cause early morning waking.

Older children should not have naps in the late afternoon. This is because it may also make it hard for them to go to sleep at bedtime.

Help your baby or toddler nap

Your child will find it easier to nap during the day if you:

  • have a consistent daily routine so that your baby or toddler knows when it is time to nap
  • do not let your child play or relax in bed. Your child’s bed should be for sleeping only
  • keep their room dark during nap time
  • take off your baby or toddler's shoes and outer clothes so they do not become too warm
  • give them a special blanket or toy as a comforter
  • read them a story in a calming voice

It is better to let your child wake up on their own, as they will be in a better mood.

Page last reviewed: 14/11/2018
Next review due: 14/11/2021