Babies and Napping

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The amount of naptime required decreases as a baby gets older. At four months, a baby needs about 4 to 6 hours of naptime. At six months, babies tend to nap a little less, needing about 3 to 4 hours. By his first birthday, Baby needs about 2 to 3 hours of naptime and he may get it from one nap or two. Once she is into her toddler years, your little one will need only one nap of about 1 to 2 hours.

Sleep Signs - Knowing When Baby is Ready for a Nap

Learning your baby's sleep signs is extremely important. If you do not recognize them or choose to ignore them, the "sleep window" will close and you'll end up with a cranky, overtired baby who cannot fall asleep.

Signs to look for include:

- rubbing eyes

- yawning

- slowing down and quieting down

- fussiness

- thumb sucking or reaching for a pacifier or sleep toy

- wanting to nurse or have a bottle

In an ideal world, when Baby is ready to sleep, you would be able to put her down and let her fall asleep. For some parents, this does actually happen. For the unlucky ones it does not. Depending on the sleep habits of your baby, you may want to establish a nap routine that resembles, but is not exactly the same as, your nighttime routine. You might read a short book, play some soft music, or rock the baby to sleep. If your baby seems ready to drop as soon as his head hits the mattress, skip the routine and just put him down. You might be pleasantly surprised by his ability to drift off by himself.