First thing you need to know: naps vary from child to child.
In general, assuming a bed time around 8pm, most babies assemble a nap routine that looks like this…
About 3 naps per day, from early morning through afternoon.
A consistent 2-nap-per-day routine — usually around 10am and 1pm.
Many kids have made the transition to one nap per day — typically around midday.
Most kids give up their last nap between 2 and 4 years old. (Oh, how cheated you can feel when they finally do!)
In my experience napping, is more variable than overnight sleep. Still, for the vast majority of kids, a consistent nighttime sleep routine, coupled with a good daytime nap routine, will make naps consistent.
Think about day cares with a class of fifteen 12-15 month olds. They have these kids, like clockwork, taking a 1-2 hour nap every midday. I often have parents come into the office feeling frazzled, because they can’t get their children to nap on the weekend like they do at daycare on weekends without holding them, rocking them, pushing them in a stroller, or driving them around in a car. They want to know what the difference is. I tell them it’s because the day cares use Magic Cots.
Most parents get the joke. But every once in a while, a particularly frazzled parent will whip out a smart phone and try to Google a place to buy one. : )
There are, of course, no magic cots. But there are regular, predictable, consistent routines. The kinds of routines, and prevailing nap rules, that kids are more than willing to comply with. Without those routines, and without those prevailing rules, kids know they can call the shots.
Which means this all goes back to a philosophy of sleep training, of routining and conditioning and fostering self-settling techniques, that will pay huge dividends for the rest of that child’s life.
(Did I mention that a well-rested parent is always a better, and happier, parent too?)
You can also see our Kids Plus Sleep Handout — which covers all of these topics, for both night-time sleep and daytime naps, in much more detail.
You can also learn a lot more about infant sleep by attending our next Kids Plus Quiet Night Sleep Class.
Dr. Todd Wolynn, the President and CEO of Kids Plus Pediatrics, is a clinically trained, nationally renowned pediatric sleep expert.