Even though babies are far from predictable, establishing a napping schedule can help set the tone for the day and make it easier to lull her to sleep at night. While getting started may seem like a challenge, sticking to a solid routine can ensure that your baby gets the sleep that she needs in a 24-hour period and maybe even make it easier for you to go back to work or plan your own day.
When setting your little one's sleep schedule, take his age into consideration. If you expect him to sleep more or less than his age dictates, your schedule may not work out as planned. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes on its website, HealthyChildren.org, that newborns typically sleep for 16 hours a day, 6-month-olds sleep for 14 hours and babies who are almost 1-year-old may sleep for slightly less than that. If your 6-month-old sleeps for eight hours during the night, he'll need six hours sleep during the daytime.
Newborns, unlike older babies, aren't likely to sleep in a predictable pattern, according to the AAP. Given that newborns will drift off in a variable way, you may want to wait until your baby is a few months old before you establish a nap schedule. Holding off until your infant is developmentally ready may cut the stress and strain for your entire family.
Look for Cues
Let your baby take the lead when you are beginning to establish a nap-time routine. Look for signs that she's ready to go to sleep. These may include rubbing her eyes or acting fussy for no other reason, according to the website KidsHealth. Put her down in her crib before she falls asleep, letting her learn how to nap on her own. As she gets more used to doing this you can establish daily nap times that fit in with your baby's sleepy times. Stick to these times to form a predictable routine.
Even though you may want to set your baby's napping schedule in stone, it's likely that you'll need to make adjustments based on his age. For example, between 4 and 9 months of age your baby will likely take two predictable naps during the day, according to registered nurse Lynne Reeves Griffin, writing for Pediatric Health Associates, P.C. After that, many babies and toddlers will only take one nap per day. If your toddler refuses to nap, even just for one time each day, insist that he stays in bed for quiet time. He can look through books or just rest if he doesn't want to sleep.