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How long should my child be napping?

Ever wonder how long your child should be napping? Or, what is considered a “good” nap?

There is a science to your little one’s sleep. Sometimes it can seem like rocket science, but I promise it is much simpler than that!

After your child is over 16-weeks adjusted age, there is a magic number we are looking for when it comes to the duration of their naps. Ideally, we are looking for naps to be at least 45 minutes, if not longer.

Later in this post we will talk a bit more about how we can get those longer naps.

So, why is 45 minutes the magic number for the minimum amount of time your child should be napping?

The answer is because children’s sleep cycles run 30 to 45 minutes. When they come to the top of their sleep cycle, they either end their nap or connect their sleep cycle (which is what we want to happen).

If your child is not connecting their sleep cycles, it could be for one of two reasons:

1. They are not going to sleep independently and need help connecting sleep cycles.

When they reach the top of their sleep cycle and wake, they need a repeat of the exact same situation that took place when they fell asleep to begin with (i.e. rocking, walking, feeding or bouncing) before they are able to go back to sleep.

The best way to prevent this is through sleep training. My sleep training guide covers in detail how to get your little one to go to sleep independently.

2. The second reason your little one may not be connecting sleep cycles is that we go to them at first wake-up. Instead of letting them resettle and go back to sleep, we assume they are finished napping and remove them from the crib.

If we leave them in the crib for a full hour from the time they fall asleep (part of practicing crib hour), it gives them the chance to reconnect their sleep cycle and extend their nap.

If your child is napping less than 45 minutes, make sure you adjust their wake-time down (depending on how long the nap is) to prevent them from becoming overtired.

Children who are overtired have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep.

In the same way your child can have naps that are too short, they can also nap too long. It is important that we cap our children’s naps daily to prevent them from getting too much day sleep, which can impact their ability to go to sleep at night.

Here is how much daily sleep your child should be getting at MAX!

If you are struggling with your little one’s naps, don’t fret! Naps are often one of the longest things to come together because the drive to sleep during the day is not as high as it is at night.

If you are still feeling lost when it comes to naps, check out my nap guide, which covers naps from 16-weeks until your little one is done napping!

Moore Sleep Soon!


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