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  • Writer's pictureSamantha

Timing Naps

Updated: Jan 1, 2023

Is there a right or wrong time to offer a nap?

The short answer…No.

If your little one needs a nap because they’re tired or reached the end of the awake window or are sick, of course offer them a sleep.

However, there are optimal times to offer naps. These are called biological sleep windows.

Scheduling Naps

All babies have biological sleep windows, which are certain times of day which are optimal sleep times. During these windows, their bodies experience a dip in energy levels and a rise in the sleep hormone melatonin, making them easier to settle and primed for a longer sleep. For a baby these nap windows fall between 9-10am, 12-2pm and 6-7pm. This is why it is recommended to aim for a bedtime around 6-7pm for most children under 5 years of age.

Melatonin is produced in darkness, so make sure you have a dark room ready to help your little one fall asleep.

Afternoon Nap

The afternoon nap is always the hardest to land because is falls outside of the biological sleep windows. I always recommend having the afternoon nap assisted to ensure your little one gets the rest they need. As this nap is usually an hour or less, they are safe to have in the car or pram if your seats meet safety standards. Assisted naps can be:

  • In the car

  • In the pram

  • In the baby carrier

  • Contact naps

How Much Sleep

It can be hard to keep track of how many naps your little one should be having a day. This also depends on how long your baby sleeps for at each nap. Follow your baby’s sleep needs in a 24 hour period to help you determine if you need to offer your baby an additional nap to get them through to bedtime.

Below is a guide to how much sleep babies need in a 24 hour period:


Average Total Sleep

Also Normal

Number of Naps


14-17 hours

11-19 hours

Sleeping between feeds

4-6 Months

14-16 hours

10-18 hours


9-16 Months

12-15 hours

9-17 hours


18 Months - 2.5 Years

11-14 hours

9-15 hours


Transitioning and Dropping Naps

All babies are different, therefore there is a rough guide for when babies drop a nap, as follows:

  • When bub is 4 months old, they’ll usually have 3 naps.

  • When they reach 6-8 months old, babies usually drop to 2 naps.

  • Around 15-18 months old, the 2 naps merge to form 1 long midday nap; and,

  • When your toddler is 2.5-3 years old, nap time might disappear forever.

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