Are You Keeping Baby Awake Too Long?

Are You Keeping Baby Awake Too Long?

One of the most commonly held baby myths is that, “babies will sleep when they are tired.”  Life would be simpler if it were true….but it’s not. Helping your baby fall asleep, figuring out when they need to sleep, and making sure they get enough sleep is pretty much the bane of every new parent.

How long should your baby be awake?

Newborn babies generally sleep a lot (according to Dr. Weissbluth newborns average between 11 – 18 hours of sleep per 24-hour period). However baby sleep is generally broken up into 7-8 “naps” varying in length from 15 minutes to 4-6 hours.

Most newborn babies (under 8 weeks) can’t stay awake very long (I sometimes refer to this as a baby’s “window of wakefulness.”) Although it varies by baby, most newborns can stay awake no longer than 45 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Some may not be able to stay awake more than 30 minutes at a time. This is generally the maximum amount of time you want your baby to be awake at any point throughout the day.

So hypothetically this means that if your newborn baby wakes up from a nap at noon, she will need to go back down for another nap around 12:45. Assume she takes a 30-minute nap and then wakes up (now its 1:15 pm). Then she would be ready to take yet another nap at approximately 2:00 pm.

As babies get older their window of wakefulness (maximum time they can stay awake) gets longer, the naps generally get longer, and the number of naps they need gradually decreases and becomes more predictable.

How do you figure out how long your baby should stay awake?

A few newborn babies will fall asleep after a certain amount of time no matter how hard you try to keep them awake. Some babies will give very good clues that they are tired so you can settle them down to sleep as soon as they look a little glazed over, rub their eyes, yawn, etc. Some will stay awake far longer than their bodes can handle. You’ll know THIS is your baby if they stay awake for 1.5 hours or longer and then have a grand mal meltdown.

You’ll know you’ve figured out how long your baby should stay awake when she falls asleep really easily. If it’s a struggle to help her fall asleep (assuming something like hunger, tummy gas, etc. isn’t preventing her from falling asleep) you’re either trying too soon, or you’re trying too late.

As a general rule you should use the guidelines in the table below. I know you’ve been told “all babies are different” but in my experience almost ALL babies fall within these guidelines. Thus if your baby is vastly off the grid that I’m suggesting here, you probably have an overtired baby on your hands.

Baby Age Time between Naps Nap Duration Number of Naps per Day
Birth – 6 weeks 45 min – 1 hour 15 minutes – 4 hours  4-8
6 Weeks – 3 Months  1 hour – 1 hour 45 minutes  30 minutes – 2 hours  3-5
3 Months – 6 Months  ~2 Hours  30 minutes – 2 hours  3-4
6 Months – 9 Months  2-3 hours  1-3 hours  3
9 Months – 12 Months  ~3 hours 1-2 hours  2

Is Your Baby Awake TOO Long?

Most parents keep their baby awake too long. It’s the #1 most common baby sleep mistake. People might tell you, “My baby just doesn’t need that much sleep.” Um….no. Just because they’re not sleeping doesn’t mean they don’t need to sleep. If your newborn baby is awake for 6 hour chunks of time during the day you have a sleep problem. It’s OK, it happens to the best of us. But let’s acknowledge it and work on fixing it rather than assuming that your baby is just different.

Most babies will let you know they’ve been awake too long because they’ll become fussy and difficult to soothe. Very happy babies will sometimes throw us a curve by hiding the fact that they are overtired by remaining calm and happy even when they’ve been up for a very long time (1.5 hours or longer). However you generally don’t want to keep your baby up for long windows of time (regardless of how delightful they are) because regardless of their behavior – overtired babies sleep poorly.

So put on your baby detective sleep hat and play around with your window of wakefulness. Once you’ve figured it out you can pretty much use that as a gauge throughout the day.

How long will your baby sleep?

Anywhere from 20 minutes to 4 hours. Some pediatricians will advise you to wake up your baby for scheduled feedings for a few days/weeks after they are born (this is common with preemies or other babies that might need a little extra love and food for a while) but once you get the green light from your pediatrician, you generally shouldn’t wake sleeping babies.

Should your baby be kept awake longer after longer naps?


How long your little one can stay awake should remain relatively consistent throughout the day (the one exception to this rule is during the Witching Hours – see below.)

What about “Cat Naps”?

Little babies are notorious for nodding off for a few minutes here and there. The most common complaint is that they’ll fall asleep for a few minutes while nursing but then wake right up again when the breast is removed. Was this a real nap? Or do we wait for another hour before trying to put them down again?

Every baby is different but as a general rule, anything ~10 minutes or longer constitutes a REAL nap. Meaning if your baby falls asleep while nursing and then hangs out there for 10 minutes (lets face it we all do this from time to time) you will likely need to wait for an hour (or whatever your baby’s window is) before trying to put her down for a nap again. Similarly if she falls asleep for 10 minutes on the way home from the mall, you will have to wait an hour to try to put her down for a nap.

Some babies transfer well from the car well – they can be removed from the car while sleeping and continue to sleep happily in their car seat which is now sitting in the living room. If this is your baby, lucky you! If not you have two choices:

  • Accept the occasional car “cat nap” as part of life.
  • Plan for the car “cat nap” by bringing a nice latte and magazine with you. When your baby falls asleep in the car, park somewhere comfortable, leave the car running, and enjoy some quiet time while she sleeps.

What is the “Witching Hour”?

For most babies the Witching Hour(s) fall somewhere around 5:00 – 11:00 pm. This is a time of day where babies are generally fussy and will stay awake for a longer period of time. Thus it would not be unusual to have a newborn baby who is awake but generally unhappy from 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm. After this long window of being fussy and awake, most babies will then have their longest period of sleep (2-4 hour for a baby who is only a few weeks old, 3-6 hours for a baby who is 1-3 months old).

This is generally the ONLY exception to the window of wakefulness. So if you find your baby fighting sleep in the evening, it may simply mean that you have found your witching hour. While this can be exhausting as most parents are running out of steam at this time of night, it’s totally normal.

If, however, you find your newborn baby staying awake for 2-3 hours at a time at other times during the day, she probably needs additional help falling asleep or there is some unknown factor which is keeping her awake. Don’t be too quick to assume that “your baby is simply different” or that “she needs less sleep.”

Note: You can find an overview of baby and kid sleep by age here. It includes the average amount of time babies can stay awake between naps. At the bottom of the post you can download a printable version to keep as a cheat sheet. How cool is that?


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  1. My baby is 6 months old and I’m trying to teach him to sleep in his crib for bedtime and naptime. He’s used to sleeping in my bed at night and infant seat for naps. He was taking 2 naps a day one around 1 1/2 hours and one around an hour and sleeping about 5-6 hours at night before waking to nurse. Now he’s napping only about 30 min in crib if that with screaming prior. And at night he’s up every 3 hours with only nursing to sleep. Growth spurt or routine at this point? He’s def not getting enough sleep!

    • If you are trying to get him used to the crib, perhaps put it next to your bed until he is used to sleeping in it with you beside him? Then it’s only one step removed from your bed where he is comfortable.

      • I just wanted to comment on this real quick. We’ve been having our now 5 week old son sleep in a crib next to our bed since he came home from the hospital. It was very rough at first and we occasionally still have rough nights but he is now starting to nap in it during the day as well. Sometimes he will even simply “hang out” awake in it for a little while! It’s just getting them comfortable in the crib until they’re used to it and feel secure. Best of luck!

        • Sounds like he misses you! Try putting an item of your clothing that you have worn as his sheet in the crib…. twill comfort him and help him sleep longer.

  2. I have a question. What do you do when your baby has his days and nights mixed up? He sleeps so soundly during the day. I can run vacuum with loud music and drop something on the floor and he doesn’t budge. But at night I play his loud white noise and still have to tip toe…. if the floor creeks he wakes up!! ugh! nights are so bad. I try to keep him awake from 8-10pm so he will sleep at night but all that ends up happening is he is awake ALL NIGHT LONG! I bounce him and he will sleep but as soon as I stop bouncing him he wakes up. I ended up bouncing him for a total of 5 hours last night. When he does sleep he only wants to sleep for 30 minutes. Then he basically sleeps solid from 12pm to 8pm when a couple feedings in there

    What do I do?

    Also, I bought a swing today so I hope that helps!

    • Also, forgot to mention he is going to be 5 weeks on Tuesday. He cries all night long. If we stop bouncing him he gets upset. His witching hour seems to last all night. During the day he is a happy baby when he is awake.


      • Hopefully the swing will work! I have to resort to that with my little one sometimes .. I also have been co sleeping so I can breastfeed her while laying down in the middle of the night.. That might be worth a try if bub won’t settle? It’s not a solution but at 3am with no sleep under your belt you’ll try anything !! I’m trying to find a bedtime routine to start my daughter will be 3 weeks on Friday fingers crossed we can get something going lol

        • Co sleeping to breastfeed backfired on me!!!
          Up to when my baby was 3 months old she would fall asleep on her own and wake up a few times to feed.
          Because I was tired I decided to put her in bed with me to feed her. BIG MISTAKE, now she is almost nine months old and can’t take her out of my bed and she wants my boob every two hours or less. So I haven’t been sleeping for the last six months and dad has to sleep on the couch.
          I feel like a failure and because I can’t let her sleep on her own in my bed I have to go to sleep with her at 8 pm and forget getting up at night to even go to the bathroom, I’m afraid she would crawl out of the bed.
          I wish someone could help me at this point.
          This has caused my marital relationship to have problems.

          • Hi Claudia,
            I was in the same situation as you until a week ago. My LO is 5 mo and was cosleeping and nursing every 2 hours (or less!), probably about 8 times a night. Sometimes he wanted to also be held. Finally last week I started using CIO (the Feber method) as me and my lovely boy were exhausted. I wasn’t ready to totally drop all the feeds, as I was also trying to get him to sleep alone, so it’s probably taking a little longer to work but we are only a week in and I feel like my little man and me are doing so much better.
            On the first night I carried out the usual bedtime routine but just before he fell asleep I put him in his crib. Predictably we woke and cried. It lasted 45 mins, for the rest of the night he woke every so often and cried a little and I also fed him on 2 occasions.
            Over the past week I have gradually moved the first feed later and dropped the second feed. He now goes down without crying and when he does wake in the night he settles himself within a few minutes.
            I would recommend reading Dr. Feber’s book as it has some info about how to decrease the night feeds. It seems like a tough thing to do to a baby but I think allowing him to learn how to settle himself to sleep is an important and positive lesson. Good luck, just remember that you’re an amazing mum and your LO will learn a new skill that will help him as he develops.

          • Dear Claudia, you are NOT a failure – you are a success as you will end up with a securely attached child as an effort for all of your hard work and your husband’s support if he is able to give it. It’s really tough I know as I’m going through the same thing right now and went through this with my first child who is now four but believe me it pays off. The children who are the most attached to you as a baby seem the most needy in a lot of ways yet by responding by giving your love and care (and breast milk) as best you can around the clock your baby will grow into a securely attached independent toddler and child. This is because by doing what you’re doing you will teach them that you are always there for them and they don’t need to feel so anxious. Pethaps you and your husband could read Dr Sears information on attachment parenting and sleep for validation of your approach. You are going against the grain in our western society which makes it much harder but keep going if you can. I’m not suggesting you don’t try other tips like the swing to get you both more sleep, just that you don’t need to turn to sleep training methods which leave the baby to cry if you don’t want to, especially if it doesn’t feel right for you and your baby. Elizabeth Pantleys books ‘The No Cry baby sleep solution’ and ‘the no cry baby nap solution’ are excellent. Keep going you wonderful mummy. My husband says to tell your husband it’s really hard right now but it gets so much better in the longer term and it means you will get more time together and less stress in the longer term as your baby grows into a secure and well adjusted toddler and then young child. Much love and compassion for your lack of sleep – it can make you feel really low and anxious cant it? If so maybe see your doctor / other health professionsl for some support too if you need it

            • PS sleep training methods are fine too if you decide this is what’s right for you & your baby – only you can decide what’s best for all of you and getting more sleep is crucial to your and on turn baby’s well being in longer term

            • Ret thank you for your words. I don’t think we can let our baby cry for too long. A couple of nights ago she didn’t want to go to sleep and kept crawling around the bed. I put her in the swing and cried for 25 min. I couldn’t let her cry any longer and when I went to check on her, daddy was holding her. He doesn’t care if he has to sleep on the sofa, he refuses to let her cry it out. She falls asleep on the swing a lot of times but she wakes up 3 or 4 hrs later that’s the maximum I sleep in a stretch. At the same time I think she is 9 months old and the swing is going to be small for her pretty soon, so is it actually wise to get her get use to sleep in it?
              And the only way she naps is in the swing so I don’t know whats going to happen after that..
              Thank you again, I feel better knowing I’m not the only mom that goes through this and It will eventually pass, I just hope is soon enough.

            • what a beautiful and well versed response. So wonderful to see other moms lifting one another up…..bravo. And thank you from my heart… your words reassured me we to are on the right track !!

          • Hi Claudia,

            I saw your post and felt compelled to tell you that by no means are you alone! My son is 16 weeks today and since he was born he has slept in our bed since we follow Dr Sears attachment parenting and it’s easy for breast feeding. 

            About 6 weeks ago I  became accustomed to waking frequently for feeds. So accustomed, that I was waking when he was sound asleep. In my infinite wisdom, I decided to feed him anyway and now HE is in the habit of waking every 1-2 hours for a feed! He cries if I don’t feed him within moments of waking. It’s completely normal for babies his age to wake frequently but I still beat myself up about it.

            I also felt like a failure of a parent. It’s so easy to fall into that thought pattern when you’re scraping a mere 4-6 hours of broken sleep for months on end. But in reality, all we are doing is whatever we can to ensure the happiness and comfort of our children. 

            I am by no means a baby expert but there are some things that I have started to implement in the hope of getting  some more sleep. 

            1. I have taken a guard rail off his previously unused cot and attached it to our bed as a kind of extension of our own bed. Some say that this is risky with regards to SIDS and such so keep that in mind before trying it! But the reason we did this was so he was still very close to me at night, but  less likely to wake each other up and there is more space for my partner and I. The first night we did this, my son slept an extra hour in one sleep and my partner only woke once instead of 4-5 times. 

            2. I have introduced a number of sleep associations so in a week or two when he is used to them I can start to remove my breast from the sleep process. The things I have introduced are: a comfort blanket, white noise and a sleep sack during the feed as he goes to sleep. I have also started to rhythmically tap his waist during this feed. I will explain that more in the next point.

            3. I read in Elizabeth Pantley’s no cry sleep solution that if you have a frequent habitual waker that if you wake up 15 minutes before the usual time and wait for them to start to wake and put them back to sleep using your usual tactic that after a few days to a week they will sleep through that time. I have found that my son wakes up whenever I feed him so I have introduced the rhythmic tap on the waist to hopefully put him back to sleep before he wakes up. I want to wait a week or two before doing that though so he is used to it though. Then, when he no longer wakes to feed, I will keep the other sleep associations in place and remove that one. 

            Obviously none of this stuff has worked yet, but I am hoping that the research I have done on this is enough to break that habit! 

            I hope something of what I’ve said is helpful to you in some way. The last things any mum should feel in this situation is a sense of failure or aloneness as we are neither! 

            Good luck!

            • Marlie thank you for your advice. I’m trying the patting and whispering a lullaby too. It only works sometimes.
              You are still on the right track and your baby is in the right age to change his habits. Mine is nine months already and it’s harder now.
              Good luck and let me know what worked for you.

            • I just read your post and had to tell you that it was so encouraging reading someone else that believes in attachment parenting. I co sleep with my little guy and have been so criticised from everyone, in laws, family friends, strangers…it’s gotten so my husband is beginning to question if we are doing the right thing. I’ve felt quite alone at times in doing this but I am determined to give him the best start I can give him. I was happy to read others that believe in attachment parenting as well. Thanks.

          • Claudia,
            I was having the same problem with my 8 month old baby. It was worse because I work nights and I was watching her all day. My LO was sleeping late in the morning with me and waking every two hours at night with Dad. On my nights off all she wanted was to nurse while in bed with me. I finally decided to try the CIO method. She cried 30 minutes the first night but slept 8 hours straight. Second night cried 7 minutes and slept 7 hours before waking. CIO definitely helped. I just used the section on this website called “Are you ready for Cry it out.”

            Good luck.
            Ceci recently posted..Is Sleep Training Child Abuse?My Profile

      • Have you tried swaddling? My daughter was 3 weeks old yesterday and swaddling is the only way I can calm her down at night–even though she sleeps happily without it during the day!

  3. Hi Alexis! Good article, thanks for sharing this information!
    I have a 7.5 month old boy, at the beginning I had problems with cat naps but during the night he has been always a good sleeper. Before Christmas we were finally in a point where he slept from 8pm to 8am straight and took 2 naps of 1.5 or 2 hours each (refuses to take a 3rd nap but he was totally happy and well rested) then he got sick (he got a cold) and his first teeth came out, and after that he started waking up earlier in the mornings (6:30 or 7am) but he doesn’t cry, I know he is awake because we have a video monitor and he just stays awake in his crib turning around until I pick him up at 8am and now because of that he is tired during the day, and he started doing the same in his naps, he will sleep 1 hour and stay another half an hour in his crib without crying or making any sound…I have tried puting him down for a 3rd nap but e won’t take it…. Any suggestion?

    • My son is 7.5 months right now. We are going through what you’re describing with your son. He was doing great on 3 naps with night sleep from 8am-8pm. He stopped wanting to take his 3rd nap, shortened his naps slightly, and was waking an hour earlier in the morning. With losing the 3rd nap, but still too much awake time until 8pm, we started putting him to bed closer to 7:30. Now we get him down around 7pm and will do so until he can extend him awake time. (He currently has a cold and seems to be teething, which is affecting his sleep). I was afraid expecting him to be down for 12 1/2 to 13 hours at night was too much, but he does it. The best sleep book I’ve read is “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.” The doctor who wrote it again and again suggests earlier bedtimes to solve waking too early and night wakings. It doesn’t seem logical, but it really does work! Sleep begets sleep.

  4. Alexis, I don’t know if you’re still responding to questions on this thread, and I tried to read through all the Qs and As to see if this has already been asked but there are a whole lot and I’ve got a not sleeping baby to contend with! In a nutshell, baby sleeps ok at night from about 10 or 11pm to 8 or 9 pm, waking to eat at around 3 and 6. She’s 7 weeks. Problem is that during the day she hardly sleeps at all! My question is if you have any tips for helping her calm down. She doesn’t like her swing. She has a vibrating chair that she will sleep in but it won’t put her to sleep. Rocking her/holding her/dancing with her has limited success. She doesn’t like her paci. White noise helps her stay asleep but won’t put her to sleep. Same thing with gentle music. Hates baths. Hates massages. The worst is during the witching hour – yesterday she SCREAMED from 5pm to 12am and I tried EVERYTHING. I know she needs to sleep more than 3 20 minute naps between 9am and 11pm, which is basically all I’m getting from her now but I don’t know how to get her to sleep. Help???

    • I had a very similar experience with my daughter. She was inconsolable to the point where she couldn’t finish eating because she was so tired. I read all the books and nothing seemed to be the magic solution however I did pick up bits and pieces from each one.
      I found Sophie was a bit easier to deal with when I swaddled,shushed and bounced her. It would take a few minutes to calm her but the swaddling made her pay attention to the other things I was doing. I did have to learn to un swaddled her without waking her though because she is a stomach sleeper.
      It is kind of hard at that age because they are kind of young for any type of sleep training. We found there were a few nights when we just put her in her crib and let her cry for a few minutes…she was going to do it anyway. When I went back in she usually settled for me after a few minutes.
      Good luck!

    • Sounds like my little man at 7 weeks, it was so hard but it does get better gradually. What worked for us was swaddling him and bouncing on a huge yoga ball. Also because your little one is only 7wks its ok to nurse her to sleep. Alexis also suggested somewhere making your nursery super dark during the day (foil on windows) to help with naps. What else? Our son seemed to hate baths and then we started making water a bit warmer and it became the most effective calming tool for us. Hang on in there.

  5. Love this site! I’m very frustrated with my 3 month old, as this is my second child who refuses to sleep. :( Am trying the 2-hour-awake thing…Failing so far today. That is, still wont settle even when I’m meeting the 2 hour interval. How long should I keep on this before giving up entirely?!;(

    • Have you tried shortening the awake time? My 7.5 month old can only do about 2 hours of awake time. At 3 months, he was still closer to 1 hour up at a time. This may not fix you’re problem instantly since your child is probably overtired, so stick with it. Hang in there, and don’t give up! It will get better, and your efforts will pay off.

      • Jenni – Thanks for your suggestion! I really needed it today….rough, rough nite last night with baby waking every hour to hour and a half.:( I am now HOPING that if I can help him sleep more during the day his nights will get better again? He used to make it for 4, sometimes 5 hours at the first stretch…then he had a cold and now its just awful. Awful, awful. But I digress…Making some small progress with naps. At least he’s napped in his swing (ie, not ON me) several times in the past few days. Trying to be good about watching the clock, etc. He has to take the morning “nap” in the car b/c I am taking my 4 year old to pre school. Will that mess everything up? Anyone else dealing with that? Also, now that he’s napping a bit in the swing, he’ll wake up several times during a one hour nap. Like, several times. I can give him the paci back and he settles again. Is this another clue/sign that he’s sleep-deprived?! Thanks!

      • Hi Jenni,

        My 3 month old is also awake only for an hour. At what age did the awake time increase to 1.5 and 2 hours?

  6. I have 3.5 month old twins who don’t sleep enough during the day.

    They sleep from around midnight till 4, 5, or 6 and then will go back to sleep for a little while, but after that it’s pretty much impossible to get them to sleep every two hours. Last night they went 8 hours without naps. On top of that, they still want to eat every 2 hours, which often interferes with getting them down for a nap, by the time they are drowsy, they are hungry again. They almost always fall asleep on the BF pillow, and sometimes I just stay still for hours on end so they can get some sleep, but it’s not comfortable for me.

    It’s especially the early afternoon nap that I find impossible to achieve, and I’m really not sure how to get them into a drowsy state, and then if I do, how is baby supposed to react once I’ve put him down “drowsy but alert”. What if he cries? Fusses? Gets the hiccups?

    They will sleep in their beds at night, but it usually doesn’t happen until they are utterly exhausted after a midnight or one am feeding. Before that we are bouncing them in their little chairs, or swinging them in our arms, anything to keep them from fussing. I feel like I am abusing them by not getting them enough sleep, but I also feel like they are so overtired now that they will never be able to do it. Do you have any advice?

  7. This site has provided me with some amazing advice! The swing has become our new “go to” for naptime and we are planning on trying it this evening for the initial bedtime (around 7 or 8 pm). For now, he thankfully seems to have no issue being transferred to his crib after his 10 pm dreamfeed (pretty sure it’s because he’s in such a sleepy state of mind). Anyway…to get to my question. I’m struggling with my LO’s third nap of the day in regards to being awake for too long. Though I put him down for this nap within an hour and fifteen minutes of his last waking, he is very difficult to get down and then to stay down. He tends to only sleep for 20 to 30 minutes at this time of day. Then he ends up waking up around 5. Our bedtime routine tends to start around 7. I always struggle with knowing what to do at that point. Keeping him up from 5 to 7 is definitely causing problems. It took us until 9 to finally rock him (in our arms) to sleep last night. I figure there has to be a better plan. Should I try to put him in his swing for another “mini-nap” at 6:30? Then maybe I could wake him between 7 and 7:15 to start the betime routine?

    Thoughts, suggestions,…

    Thanks in advance!!

    • Hi Erica,
      I am not sure how old your baby is, but I know with my baby it was easier just to start his bedtime routine a little earlier. So if he wakes at 5, and he struggles to stay up until 7, I would just start his bedtime routine earlier, and put him to bed earlier, instead of giving him another nap, then having to wake him and then put him down again. I usually start my son’s bedtime routine at 6:15/6:20 and he is sleeping around 7 pm. He is 5 months old.
      Jessica G. recently posted..5 Things I Learned from Doing Sleep ConsultsMy Profile

  8. I know I have a chronically overtired 6-mo baby, but I didn’t realize he should be able to stay awake 2-3 hrs btwn naps. He can’t make it 1 hour before he’s tired again. He goes to daycare, one of those school types where there are 7 other babies btwn 6 wks and 1 yr in the room with him. No separate nap room. All babies on their own nap/feed schedule. And my guy is not the type to ignore anything. Any suggestions on creating useful sleep cues at daycare? He takes a security blanket to the crib. I just gave them a small white noise machine, but I’m not sure it can really be loud enough to block much out, but we are giving it a try. I’m starting to worry he’ll never really nap (xept wknds) until age 1 when the next classroom he’s in will instigate a daily nap time for all kids at the same time.

    • Amanda,
      Try swaddling, I have a, now 10 month old, and I swaddled him, for naps, until 9.5 months. I would completely describe him as you did, “not the type to ignore anything”. Hopefully he will get used to it sooner than later. It’s also, just a difficult time for naps too, I know that at 6 months all of a sudden my 5×30 minute napper completely reset to a more normal 3 nap a day baby.

    • My son is 6 mo as well. He doesn’t sleep through the night and we co-sleep for breastfeeding. He recently started waking up every 2 hours to eat or just to nurse back to sleep. I do not nurse him to sleep during the day or to bed. His naps are only 30-45 min and he’s tired again after only an hour or hour and a half. His naps at daycare are much longer than at home and he’s up longer too. I’m off for the summer and I feel like I’m doing him a disservice :(. He eats solids after his first nap and at dinner time. He gets a small playtime to wind down, books, and I nurse him. He then put himself to sleep and he’s down for about 2 or 2 1/2 before he wants to nurse. I’m so confused! I feel like he should be up longer after each nap, but he becomes super over tired and then any nap is impossible! He ends up with 3-4 naps a day….help!

      • ” He gets a small playtime to wind down, books, and I nurse him.”

        Because you’re nursing near bedtime (even though he falls asleep on his own) he still has a strong nurse=sleep association. Try putting some space between nursing and sleep and see if things don’t improve.

        PS. Naps are often rocky around 6 months. Keep putting him down awake and try if you can, to have his naps happen on a schedule (it’ll help).

        Good luck!
        Alexis recently posted..7 Sleep Lessons from a Stanford Pediatric Sleep SpecialistMy Profile

        • Thanks! I’ll try it! Any suggestion in about how much time to wait until I put him to bed after nursing? Maybe make that the first part of his bedtime routine?

          Also, I’m doing the swing for naptime as suggested for him putting himself to sleep. It’s working wonders, but I feel like he’s stilll no where near putting himself to sleep in his crib for naps. We are hoping to have him in his crib full time before I start back to work in aug. And we aaa REALLY don’t want to do CIO!

  9. I have a 4month old that is a great night sleeper. She will sleep from 6:45 or 7 until 3 or 4 to eat and then go back to sleep until we wake her up at 6 to leave for daycare. I’ve been noticing lately that she is needing to take a nap around 4 or 5pm and then she’s sleeping until almost bedtime! She generally takes 4-5 hours of naps during the day but I want to make sure she doesn’t stay awake in the evening more than 2-2.5 hours. Any suggestions?

  10. Hi Alexis,

    Thank you so much for this invaluable site – I’m addicted.

    My son is 10.5 weeks and I’m trying to work towards him sleeping through the night. He is a solid napper through the day and is generally pretty good at sleeping every 1.5 to 2 hours. Sometimes I feel like he sleeps too much during the day as these naps can go for over two hours. He is usually up during the witching hours of around 6.30pm – 10pm, and will then sleep for over six hours until 4.30am.
    I am trying to work towards him sleeping through the night – should I aim for an earlier bedtime or try to push the 4.30am feed forward?
    Last night I tried an earlier bedtime of 9pm and he ended up needing two night feeds – at 1am and the usual 4.30am. There have been days when he has not napped as much or he has a later bedtime and he wakes closer to 5am for a feed.

    I would love your advice and a full night’s sleep!

    Thanks Alexis!


  11. Hi Alexis,
    Very very helpful blog, I am addicted to it, cannot stop reading it. Have a question about naps. So my daughter is 10 months old. According to the charts that you kindly provided, she should nap twice a day, and her awake time should be 3 hours total between the naps. Here when it gets tricky. She wakes up at 6-6:30 AM consistently (sometimes 5:30, I am trying to get her back to sleep, sometimes it works, sometimes it does not), so she has her first nap at 8-8:30 am, sleeps usually 1 hour or 50 min. So her second nap is around 12 PM (also 1 hour tops, would not sleep for longer), and she absolutely needs her 3 nap around 3:30 (which is so so hard) and she naps for 45 min or so. Bedtime is usually 7 PM, and by 7 PM I mean she is already asleep. She has had some issues with her bedtime since she was 8 months old, I posted our story here….we are in prgress of getting her sleep through the night. Sometimes she is tired after 2 hours of being awake and I have to get her into the crib. I know that fixing bedtime first would probably help with her naps, but is it normal for her to nap 3 times at 10 months?

  12. My baby turned 2 months yesterday, and she sleeps in her crib, she even go to sleep without me rocking or holding her I can lay her down with hewer binky then she sleep,

    But when she was some weeks she was just like how you guys baby are, butwhen you breast feed babies get use to sucking, especially during late hours when they suck nd fall asleep that’s why when you take your breast out they wakes back up try replacing your nipple with a binky (pacifier).I didn’t want her to have one but that’s What helps her sleep threw the night, nd she only wants it when she’s sleepy

    Hope this helps some new mom’s, and that it make sense no time for proof reading my baby is waking up,
    Also I’m a first time mom as well
    dee recently posted..Dr. Karp Part 2 Answers Two Key Swaddling QuestionsMy Profile

  13. Hello. I’ve used this site for bedtime and had such huge success, our little man sleeps 730-6/630 on his own. But naps are a different matter. My life (and rapidly drawing to a close maternity leave) has been taken over by napping obsession!

    So I started letting our then 6 month old sleep on me for naps during bedtime sleep training. We fell in to a nice routine and he stared having lovely long naps! But now I’m going back to work soon and I need to get him napping in his cot. So here’s the problem… I don’t know when his naps should be. He is impossible to read, quite often grumpy even when he isn’t tired, when he is tired he doesn’t show it (he actually stifles his yawns, can you believe it?!) I just don’t know where to start.

    Sometimes he seems tired after an hour of waking up, sometimes two, sometimes three! I just don’t know where to start. I know nap training will be even more difficult if I don’t time it right but he’s nearly 8 months now and I still don’t know what I’m doing ha ha

    Oh yes, and he gets long naps on me no matter when it is. Except sometimes he throws in 30 or 40 minute naps, so I can’t take that as a guide for when it should be.

    And one last question. I read somewhere that at some point/age you can stop worrying about how long he is awake and move to scheduled naps instead. Is this true? When???

    Any help would really be appreciated.

  14. I’m hoping some of you awesome experienced parents can help me. My 6 month old takes 2 really good (swing) naps each day, but the 3rd is dicey and often impossible. If he misses it, and I am following the rules of not letting him get overtired, not being awake too long, etc, he’d have to go to bed for the night at 5. That’s just TOO early. I’m even cool with a 6:30pm bedtime, but 5? No. SO, do I treat that 5 o’clock (been up since 2:00pm, cranky baby) time as another nap, with real bed at like 8:00? (Do babies nap at 5 or 6 pm when theyre 6 months old?!) Or try to push second nap out later and move bedtime up? Right now, he’s insanely overtired by 6:00pm after awakening from his second nap around 2:00 or 2:30pm. So much so that it takes over an hour to get him settled and he’s up every
    45mins all night! I’d appreciate input of course from Alexis, but any moms or dads, too!

    • Hi Melissa,

      Will your baby sleep until morning or wake up after what seems like a nap-length of time? My 6 month old has the same challenge with the last nap. I do let there be a 6pm nap, although I try to put her down earlier, within 2-3 hours of her last wake-up. I’ve noticed she has sleepy moments at various times in her wake cycle – around 1h33mn, 2h5mn, 2h40mn, so I try to put her down nearish then, which often means a 40 mn nap sometime around 5 or 6 pm. Then her night goes 8pm-6:30am. No doubt about it though, the last nap is the toughest. I think its just the end of the day witching hour – no matter how well she’s napped, the evening is the most tired time. So I don’t have any suggestions – just to say we have the same experience.

    • Our daughter dropped the 3rd nap right around 6 mo. When the 3rd nap became an absolute slog we played around with gradually lengthening her awake times. She settled into this basic schedule after about a week: up at 7, nap 10-1130, nap 230-4, bed at 7. I will say she dropped naps very quickly- it was like a switch had been flipped and suddenly she was happy being awake longer periods. She would still nap if we put her down earlier, but we found out that she was still happy if we kept her awake longer (and overall she was still getting about 15 hrs of sleep a day).

      That being said, if he turns into a crankypants in the late afternoon, why not try the late nap thing like Jpk mentions for a while and push bedtime back? Maybe even a little one if you are trying to keep bedtime earlier? Like a stroller or car ride just to keep a handle on everyone’s sanity. :)

  15. Hi Alexis
    I have 12 week old twins and I am having a bit of trouble regarding the hour/s before bedtime.

    They usually wake up for the day between 7-8 and will nap an hour after that for about an hour and then after each feed (feeding is every three hours during the day) they can nap anywhere from 1-3 hours. However, I start to fret when it’s around 4-5 because we start bedtime routine around 715.

    My son seems to become tired much earlier than my daughter. So I’ve been trying to get them to sleep from 5-6 and then keeping them awake until bedtime, but from 6-7 they are TERRIBLE monsters! Well, that is until after an hour or so my daughter becomes a delight and my son is still a monster dozing in and out of sleep.

    I’ve already moved their bedtime earlier from starting the bedtime routine at 8:30 to 8:00 to 7:45 and now at 7:15. I will go as early as 7 but my daughter doesn’t seem tired and will whine when put down at which point we re-feed her and put her down ( although this doesn’t happen always but lately)

    Any tips on what to do regarding nap time? One time my daughter slept from 6-630 but this didn’t help putting her down sleepy.

  16. Hello!

    We have been using this site since our little guy was born, to great success. However he is 11 months old and now has an issue with his afternoon nap – he chats, blows raspberries, bounces and fusses for the whole hour.

    Sam has always slept relatively well for his naps, he will usually cry for a few minutes and then eventually fall asleep for usually about 1.5 hrs. This afternoon nap stand-off is new. There has been no change in routine, he is usually up for around 3 hrs +/- 30 min before his afternoon nap and there are the usual sleepy signs (eye rubbing, yawning and fussy). When I go to get him after his hour of chatting/fussing he is a happy baby, but I know he needs that sleep.

    Any tips on how get him to actually sleep in the afternoon?

    • Hi Emily! Our daughter dropped the second nap around 11 months. Did the same thing- playing happily in crib instead of napping. We let it go for a week to see if it was consistent. Then we experimented with her schedule- instead napping 10-1130 and 230-4, we kept her up until 1130. She was sleepy but not upset so we tried it for a couple days and suddenly the longer awake time was perfect. Now it’s up around 7, nap from 12-230 (or 3) and bed at 7. And she only gets about 30 min less sleep overall- usually one 2.5 hr nap (but sometimes 3 hrs) instead of two 1.5 hr naps. Just something to consider. Good luck!

  17. Hi. My little guy is 19 weeks old this Thursday. Up until two weeks ago, he was sleeping wonderful. He is solely breastfed and would wake to feed twice a night unless cluster feeding. I would put him to sleep between nine and ten o’clock at night and he would sleep until three in the morning when he would feed and then again at five in the morning. Then sleep until about eight o’clock. He would take regular naps during the day, at least three at about 45 minutes each. But about two weeks ago, he started to wake up every two hours after I put him down. Sometimes he will feed other times her just wants his pacifier. If this isn’t bad enough, lately he has started to fully wake at 4:00 in the morning and start to play. He doesn’t feed he just rolls around, kicks his legs, swings his arms and babbles to himself. At first I tried to nurse him back to sleep but this didn’t work, he only stayed up longer, keeping me and my husband up until seven in the morning when he decided to fall asleep. This morning, when he woke at 4:00, I tried to feed him and when that didn’t work, I rolled away from him and pretended to sleep (he cosleeps with us) after thirty minutes of him rolling around and giggling, he started to cry. I turned back to him, he fed and slept another two hours. He is still napping well during the day. But my concerns are the waking every two hours after being such a good sleeper, could this be his teeth or is it something to be concerned about? And, this waking up to play at 4:00. Am I not stimulating him enough during the day? Or is it the opposite and I’m over stimulating him? I’m a first time mother and question everything I do. We just want our good little sleeper back soon. I can handle this waking every two hours and even the playing at 4:00 for a while, but eventually I am going to need some decent sleep and with bfing him, my husband can’t take a feed during the night or anything. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

    • Hi Laura! For the night waking it sounds like a suck-to-sleep association. When he comes out of a sleep cycle he feels like he needs you or the binky to get back to sleep (other than the times he is actually hungry). Alexis recommends at least 20 minutes between eating and sleeping- maybe meal time and bedtime is still too close together for your little guy?
      And maybe the binky is transitioning to frenemy now that he wants it re-plugged? We gave our daughter a bunch of binkies and she figured out how to find and re-insert but that doesn’t work for everyone it seems.
      My sympathies on the early morning. Our daughter did that for about 3 weeks right around the same age. She would wake up @ 5 am and play for about an hour before going back to sleep (feeding her didn’t help). We just let it ride (didn’t go in to her) and she eventually stopped waking up so early. Tricker when co-sleeping though- as you say it’s hard when he knows you are right there. And I am sure you are providing the right amount of stimulation during the day. He’s just figuring out this sleep thing and it’s not easy!
      Hang in there!! These babies change so quickly you never know what to expect!

    • I think you are dealing with the 4 month sleep regression (wonder week 19). My LO did this for 2 weeks right around 19 weeks and then suddenly went back to sleeping normally (waking once to eat-although she gave that up a few weeks later too). One night was so bad i ended up driving her around in the car at 4 am while we both cried. That was one of my lowest points as a mother! I think you just have to ride it out and try not to introduce too many bad habits. If the sleeping doesn’t improve after a few weeks, though, you may have to consider sleep training. Give it some time though. 4 months is a very common time for temporary sleeping issues.

  18. How do I sooth an over tired baby??? I’ve tried swaddling, white noise, rocking, bouncing, she would still be wide awake and screaming. She is so hard to sooth sometimes it’s time for another feed and she would be up for 6 hours….. Please help this tired baby…

    • By the way, my baby is 7 weeks old. Any steP by step advice would be much appreciated!!!

    • Aww, she’s still so young, I remember those difficult days. To be honest, I just held her A LOT and rocked and shushed her A LOT. Putting her down at night was a nightmare because she was such a light sleeper, and she was held for naps until 8 weeks.

      Assuming you are not referring to crying during the witching hour, have you tried using a swing or a sling/carrier or just going out in a stroller (in the carseat)? I know my baby hated the carseat in the beginning, so getting her to sleep in the stroller was hard but eventually she did after a few tries. She’d cry for the first 15 to 20 minutes but then she’d fall asleep. She always hated the swing but now she’d sit in it and watch TV while we ate dinner, so that’s an improvement. She still doesn’t sleep in the swing.

  19. Thank you so much for such an article .
    I’ve been searching the net to see if my baby’s sleep habits were wrong but it turned out the opposite he takes naps for only half an hour and stay awake for 1H30M I thought that this is not healthy but depending on your schedule it’s totally normal

    thank you so much

  20. My 8 month old just started skipping her afternoon nap, so she stays awake for about 7 hours. That seems like a bad thing to me but she stays happy for the most part and sleeps as usual during the night. Should I worry or do anything?

  21. This is a really interesting article. I have a 2 week old who has already found the ‘witching hour(s)’. He will sleep throughout the day no problem, waking for feeds then napping again. But after 9pm he comes alive!!! And doesn’t want to sleep anywhere. I know it’s only early days and we don’t have a routine yet, but I want to try and get out of bad habits early on. We spent 3 hours trying to get him settled and asleep last night, ad tonight is looking like it could go the same way. Any recommendations? Thanks.

    • What we did was try to get her to nap/sleep before the witching hour and that worked quite well for us. Also, we did a lot of the 5S routine per Dr. Karp (Happiest baby on the block) when she didn’t nap through her witching hour and that also worked too.

  22. hello i am in desperate need of advice/help, my 3 month old was sleeping good from about 9 weeks, well sleeping good to me, about 5 to 6 hours at night from about midnight to 2am, but in the past 2 weeks he totally has his nights and days mixed up, he naps all day for about an hour or 2 at a time and stays up allllllll night till about 6am to 7am, then sleeps till about 3 pm, well about a week ago it went up to 9/10am but he is only sleeping for about 4 hours, we have 2 other children so its hard for us because our other kids require us to stay up too.. i dont know what happened or what caused this and i work while my husband watches the kids, i had the last 3 days off so we tried to keep him up during the day andhave done everything at night by trying to get him into a routine and nothing seems to be helping, i think it made it worse because in the past 3 days he sleeeps around 9/10 and wakes at 12, i think he may be over tired from us trying to switch him back to nights (and i thought 12/2am was bad) weve tried the cry it out method but that seemed to backfire also, with him waking himself up because of him crying soo much, we tried letting him self sooth but when we try to comfort him by patting his back it only makes him more frustrated and cries harder. i feel like weve tried everything.. nothing will put him to bed, we keep it dark in the room, he falls asleep when im breast or bottle feeding but wakes up maybe 10 min after he falls other two kids did not have a problem like this.. anyone with advice would be greatly appreciated

  23. Oh my goodness… I just found this and read it… and I was dying to get to the part about how to “fix it”… and it isn’t there haha!!! HOW DO I FIX IT lol? My 4 week old son will stay awake for HOURS in the morning! Maybe with a cat nap or two in there… We are dying over here!

  24. If anyone can please help with advice or tips on how to get my baby to nap with out me having to rock her for an hour and a half. And if i put her down she wakes right back up, its exhausting, i love my little one but she is a little fighter. She is almost 3 months and i think i have got her customed to think falling asleep in my arms is way to go. I need to break this habit. Her bedtime is great, its the daytime that is the hard part. She doesnt get her naps in like she should because either i try to put her down and she wakes up or she only sleeps for like 30-45 minutes. She is just so overly tired during the day. Anything be so helpful. Im afraid to do the cry it out method. =/

  25. I have tried, swings, lulabies, music, pacifier, soothing her, i dont know what to do. She just wont nap unless i rock her for an hour and a half and hold her the whole entire time.

    • I would try soothing her until she is drowsy but put down before she is asleep. This works for mine. It’s very touch and go as i think this is a sensitive age .. mine will be 12 weeks Friday. I do not rock her to sleep anymore…. i know it sounds harsh but i want her to have the skill of falling asleep on her own :)

      Does that help?

  26. Thank you! Somehow no one ever told me a cat nap counted as a nap – I thought I was doing something wrong or she was just a troublesome baby. What a relief!!

  27. Desperation has driven me to post on here. I have a 7 week old who will NOT NAP. I’ve tried everything, swing. Swaddle, pacifier, holding him, rocking him, wearing him. The only thing that works is sometimes driving him around but I can’t do that every time he needs a nap, I have a 3 year old! He doesn’t need a change, he is burped, he’d is fed and fed again (it sometimes takes so long to get him down he gets hungry again. He will be up for 2-4 hours at a time much against my attempts to sooth him to sleep after the first hour of wakefulness.
    I am so at the end of my rope my doctor prescribed antidepressants for me, I simply cannot handle this anymore, help!

    • Hi Kristine,

      My babe was the same and only nursed to sleep, as she is EBF, 5 months later and she is still the same. Will not sleep otherwise except if she is in the car.

      Recently I discovered she has slight tongue tie and upper lip tie. So if you little one is still hungry, like she was, perhaps he too may have one.

      Tongue tie/ upper lip tie restricts their feeding ability (though you think they have fed long enough) and can cause huge amounts of gas due to improper latch. Also they tire, and though they may seem adequately full, may still not be.

      The othe thought may be silent reflux? My babe suffers that too

      I suggest if you with Facebook joining ‘breastfeeding/ mama talk’ private page. They are my helpline and you have so many mothers offering endless ideas and support.

      Good luck!

  28. What time should I try to put my 2 month old down for the night? I’m afraid trying for 7 or 8 will backfire. If she does her long stretch of sleep from 8-1, them I’m up every hour or 2 for the rest of the night. Lately, she is ridiculously fussy in the evenings and is going down around 9-9:30. Would putting her down earlier help?

    • Hello,
      By 2 months old you should try and establish a bed time routine. Bath, feed and bed and should be waking for one feed at night. If your baby has a bath, and feed at seven at night put them down and let them wake when they like. Feed them at 1or 2 when they wake and then wake them at 7 in the morning again to start a day time routine of feeds 7,11,3,7. If your baby wakes between 1 and 7 at night try resettling before you assume they are hungry as I feel that’s where most of us go wrong that we are just quick to feed so therefore they are learning that if they cry they get a cuddle and fed.. Hope it helps. I have a now 5week old that sleeps between feeds during the day and then sleeps from 7 till 7 at night 4 out of 7 times a week usually or may wake for one 20min feed

  29. My 6.5 month old sleeps 11-12 hours at night with one waking but she only naps for about 35 minutes 3 times a day. She falls asleep on her own in her crib and I put her down when she’s been up for about 2.5 hours. What can I do to get her to take longer naps? I feel like her naps are getting shorter!

  30. My 3 month old’s awake time is only an hour. Should I try to stretch it, or just wait for it to change? Thank you.

  31. Ok, I have the opposite problem. My almost 3 mo old doesn’t stay awake long enough. She gets fussy after about 1 hr 15 min to 1 hr 30 min, so I put her to sleep and she goes right down. I haven’t really been concerned about her inability to stay awake. Should I be? She was staying up for even less time before I read this. After I read it I tried getting her to stretch her awake periods a little longer!

    • Also, I guess I’m wondering if it’s possible for a baby to get TOO much sleep. My daughter sleeps from 9/9:30pm to 5:30-7 each night. Then I feed her and put her right back down and she sleeps for another couple hours. Then, as I said, during the day she is only awake for 1hr15m – 1hr30m at a time and takes naps for 45m-2.5hr (varies quite a bit). Is that TOO much sleep???
      Sheri recently posted..Harper – 2 MonthsMy Profile

      • She’s getting lots of day sleep but her night is actually on the short side (see article linked below). So from a “round the clock” perspective she’s probably right where she should be.

        If you want to slightly cut back on day sleep and see if you can coax her into longer nights that might be something to nibble on. Try slightly shortening her nap time and gradually pushing bedtime up, see what happens. Or don’t – it could be that she’ll organically do that all on her own in a few weeks. Babies are mysterious like that 😉
        Alexis recently posted..The Secret to Baby Sleeping 12 Hours at NightMy Profile

  32. Hi… i came across this article when i searched for how long a 5 week baby should be awake? My 5 week baby seems to sleep fine in the day with one or 2 3 hour sleep at a stretch and the rest of the nap being cat naps and also awakes maybe 45 mts once or twice between these naps. But most of the evening she is awake from6.30 or 8 pm and she stays awake for upto 4 or even 5 hours …between ths she has many feeds and sometimes even fall asleeps after a feed but she is wide awake like a happy child as soon as i put her in the crib…then finally she sleeps ONLY for 2 or 3 hours at a stretch in the nihht aftr 4 or 5 long hours of awake time and aftr that she wakes up for feed every 5 mts ..10 mts or max being 30 mts. She only cries when she is hungry or tired…..but im soooo tired of not getting sleep in the night.

    • This may be good news or bad news but I’m afraid everything you describe here is perfectly normal for your baby’s age. The bad news is there’s not much you can do about it except nap during the day when she takes those long 3 hour stretches. The good news is that she’ll work out the difference between night and day and switch her longer stretches to night sometime in the next month or so.

      Keep reading this site! Tons of useful information for you, check out the newborn baby tab. You’re lucky you found it so early, I promise it will help you a lot. Good luck and enjoy that tiny baby!

  33. Everything use to be easy. Slept from 6-8 hours straight and two good naps a day. Now she is 7 months and no longer naps during the day amd has been struggling to fall a sleep at night. Lots of crying and screaming til she actually does. She now has been waking up after only 3 hours and will not go back to sleep uslees we feed her and co sleep in our bed. Any suggestions???

  34. Thanks for the good advice given! My 2 month old started to catnap and would stay awake for 3-4 hours in the afternoon. Then she would cry/feed/fuss for 1.5hours before bedtime at 730pm. As she is a reflux baby, I have been putting her to nap in her rocker.

    Today, I followed some of your tips to swaddle and put her to bed at the first signs of sleepiness (yawn/eye rubbing), which is slightly after an hour after she wakes. Plus I let her sleep in the cot instead of the rocker. It worked! She fussed a little but went to sleep on her own. I figured the rocker in the living room was probably too stimulating. As a newborn she had no problems but maybe too stimulating for a 2 month old with increased awareness.

    The only slight issue is sometimes she has to feed before going to sleep. I think that’s partly due to the reflux. She can’t drink alot at one go so gets hungry fast. Keeping my fingers crossed for better naps!

  35. Alexis,
    I. Need. Help.
    My son has just recently turned 5 months old on the 5th. We have been working on the “putting baby down awake” since he was 3 months and one day old. It went surprisingly well. Our swing has 5 speeds, we went down to 4, then to 3, still no problems. We got rid of the paci (he started sucking his thumb)and no issue. He had consistently been having a 30 minute morning nap, 2 hr late morning/early afternoon nap and then 2 30 minute naps. The last usually ending by 6 and he was down for bed at 8.
    However, the past 3-4 weeks, without any obvious cause that I can find, his afternoon nap has cut to 30 minutes. I’m putting him down awake, he falls asleep on his own, I make sure there is at least 20 minutes between nursing and going down for his nap, I have not turned the swing down anymore and he is half swaddled (has to have that left arm out to get to his thumb). We do kind of struggle on his sleeping cues. Sometimes he goes down at 1 1/2 hrs, other days it’s 2 hrs. I truly don’t understand the fluctuation in times. But I’m trying so hard to put him down when he is not over tired. Many days after this half hour nap, he is still obviously tired but just won’t go back down. I usually let him fuss for at least 5-10 minutes just to see if he’ll go back to sleep, but he rarely does. Now for the last week he seems like he is trying to drop his last nap and after he goes down for the night he has started to wake up after 2 hours and he is up and down all night long, like 6 times a night. Before this he was sleeping 4-6 hour stretches and then getting up one other time to nurse. How could he stop his 2 hr nap and drop his last nap all within 3 weeks? And also be having night problems? He is not teething, he does not have an ear infection, and in the last 3 weeks has not been in a wonder weeks phase. I have NO IDEA what I am doing. I have no idea what I am doing WRONG, more specifically.
    My husband occasionally has him during the day and tells me he’ll sometimes just put him down on the floor play mat and walk away to do something and when he comes back, the baby is asleep and sleeps for over an hour! This has never EVER happened for me. I get the baby that has a break down if I don’t have him napping quickly enough. I feel like I am failing as a mother. I feel like I am doing everything right and I still suck. I am terrified that I will not have him out of the swing by the time he turns 6 months old and I will never have a baby that sleeps through the night.
    Please tell me what I am doing wrong. I am all for criticism if it’ll get him to sleep again. I’m so exhausted. PLEASE. HELP!
    Tasha recently posted..When Babies Drop Naps and What to Do About itMy Profile

  36. I have a 9 month old who is struggling with sleeping through the night. From about 5-8 months she did great only waking around 4 a.m. to nurse. But for the past month she has been an awful sleeper waking about every 2 hours. My husband and I decided to use CIO. Last night was the first night. Our normal routine was diaper change, pj’s,quiet playtime in room, book, rocking with bottle and put to bed awake but drowsy with a pacifier. But now we realize that we should not be using the pacifier or rocking and nursing her just before putting her down. So our new routine is rocking with bottle,diaper change, pj’s,quiet playtime in room, book, bed with no paci. So I have a few questions:
    1) Is it ok for her to use her paci for naps? And can I rock and nurse her to sleep or at least until she is very drowsy for naps.
    2) Is it ok for her to take longer naps while we are doing CIO at night? Today she has slept 3.5 hours which I know she needs because she cried for an hour before falling asleep and then another hour in the middle of the night when she woke. I am just afraid she won’t sleep tonight if she naps too much today.
    Thanks for the advice! This is NOT EASY!!

  37. Hi
    I have a couple of questions about this. I am certain my 11 week old gets overtired, however, how do I get her to sleep more? Sometimes she will be awake from 12-4pm, dose for 20 mins then be awake til 9pm she gets really grumpy but fights sleep. She has also started waking herself by thrashing about. She has never liked swaddling. I tried easy for a week but ours was more like eaeasaeas over 4 hours! I found it too stressful not to follow her cues and couldn’t do it!

    I’m desperate to persuade her to sleep and not to wake herself thrashing. She is just so alert and nosy! She will go off in her pram but it is more cat napping and I dont feel its good quality.
    She is ok at night and goes about 4 hours between feeds (breast).

    • Hi Lyndsey,
      Don’t know if any of this will be helpful for you, but it worked for us so I’d thought I’d at least share in case you find any of it useful for your daughter. Our son (13 weeks) was definitely getting overtired and would “fight” sleep because of this. Then, because he was overtired, he would sleep short, fitful stints as a result and usually wake up crying or shortly thereafter. He also doesn’t give very obvious sleep cues so we were keeping him up way too long because he seemed happy and interactive. But then we’d wonder why he’d melt down so quickly, be obviously tired, but then take 20 minutes naps (in stroller, crib, wrap, etc.) after us spending way longer to get him to go to sleep. Then, we tried the swing (with all the varsity techniques Alexis suggests except the pacifier)! It has been SO helpful in getting him decent naps (4 or 5) during the day. We also realized that although he CAN stay awake a lot longer, he falls asleep with the least amount of crying and stays asleep the longest if he is in the swing within 45-50 minutes from his last sleep. It always seems really short and I can’t believe he’s tired already, but, alas, he ALWAYS falls asleep within 90 minutes from his last sleep, usually closer to 60-75 minutes. He also has always hated the swaddle, too, but we realized that for his sleep we had to keep doing it because, otherwise, his free arms would startle himself awake 5-20 minutes into every nap and then he’d be crying and unable to go back to sleep. We don’t pay much attention to keeping him on any particular eat, play, sleep schedule, but rather just feed him when he’s hungry (breast). We’ve become pretty militant about his sleep though because he is much, much happier and take much better naps when we are. Hope something in there helps you and your daughter. Good luck!

      • This sounds a bit like my 12.5 week old. We discovered that she loves to nap in her swing about 2 weeks ago! Before then, she was a serial catnapper (anywhere from 20-40 mins). I swaddle her (her arms also go wild – hasn’t quite got control of them yet but I can see it starting to happen), put the dummy in and stroke her forehead for a minute and she’s out for hours! It’s awesome.

        However, then my stresses began about her getting used to napping in the swing. What happens when she outgrows it?! So we went back to cot sleeps and the catnapping started back up. THEN, I discovered this blog which has made me feel so much better about using the swing. At this stage, my stance is that I need to work on getting her into a sleeping routine with the aid of the swing, then at a later stage go through the swing weaning process.

        What are your thoughts about swing weaning? When do you think you’ll do it?

        • Milly,
          Here’s what ended up working for us. Our son is now 13 months old. Since my son ended up actually sleeping in the swing for naps, we kept with it. Not that it was easy to get him to sleep, but at least he would sleep. It took using “Varsity Techniques” plus some (white noise on the ipad hooked up to speakers, moving swing with the jiggle, with black-out curtains, while holding the pacifier in, AND, intermittently turning the vacuum on when he’d get hysterical – this calmed him immediately for some reason) for probably 4 months before he started to go to sleep easily with no special techniques whatsoever. BUT, at least he would sleep, unlike everything else we had tried. So, we kept with it. He was a big boy and started to outgrow (weight-wise) the swing when he was about 10 months old. At this point, he was falling asleep very easily and peacefully in a stationary swing and taking two long naps a day, waking happily. So, my husband unhooked the chair of the swing and built a simple little wood frame for it that he attached to the swing so it could safely sit on the floor. At 13 months, my son still happily sleeps in his swing chair for naps. So, so, so many benefits to having him nap in this way and he loves it! He sleeps in his crib at night, but we figure that as long as the swing chair works for naps, we’re going with it. Whatever to get him to sleep. With as many other sleep cues we have, at his age, and with our very consistent daytime schedule he knows when its time to go to sleep, so I have no worries whatsoever about transitioning him to the crib for naps when its time. Its just that I have no interest in messing with something when its going well. Had I to do the first year over, I’d stress WAY less about creating “bad” habits and do what it took to get everyone some sleep, one day at a time: do what works until it doesn’t work anymore, then find something else that works. Hope that helps and congratulations on your new little one!

  38. I feel like crying of relief reading your website.
    Thank you for doing that FOR FREE, to help us with the hard issue of baby sleep.
    Your website is so helpfull! I found every answer to the question I had, it helped me much more than midwives or relatives advices. It is like you are describing my baby behavior (he sometimes made me feel like the worst mum on earth) and give solutions (which make me feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel!!!!)
    Thank you sooooo much!!!

  39. This chart has been bang on for my babe.

    But I’d like to know average time awake before bedtime??

    It seems like it’s longer than what’s on the chart. Is this normal? We’re in the process of trying to figure out the right time.

    • From my experience and what I have read here and it seems that awake time is longest between the last nap and bed. My six month old is awake less than two hours before his first nap, a bit more than two for the second, a bit more than two before the third, and 3 before bedtime. Alexis has recommended a 2, 3, 4 hour wake time routine for older babies down to 2 naps. What you wrote sounds normal:)
      Ashby recently posted..7 Days to Chunky Naps and 11 Hour Nights – Reader Q&A My Profile

  40. Help please! I have a 7 week old baby that REFUSES to sleep. I would say on average he gets 5-8 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. I KNOW that is not ok! And I KNOW that he is exhausted (overtired), he screams all day every day He has been this way for as long as I can remember. I’ve tried everything it seems but I’d still like some suggestions. How do I help him nap, especially during the day? Preferably without having to use my boob as a pacifier/ sleep aid which is what seems to be the only thing that is working at the moment (I know, I know, all I’m doing is creating a sleep crutch that’s going to be harder to break later on but I’m desperate!)

    • Hey Mrs. Woog,

      Step #1 – worry about getting him to fall asleep and stay asleep and THEN…

      Step #2 – worry about sleep crutches.

      My point being, he’s only 7 weeks old so you don’t need to worry about sleep crutches today.

      My advice is to lay on the soothing. Most newborns do really well with ALL of the following:
      – swaddle
      – white noise
      – swing
      – paci

      I would do all 4. If you’re having a hard time getting the paci to stay in, experiment with gently pulling it out. This will actually get him to suck harder. Yes you’ll have to stand there doing this but for the short-run it’s better than you being the human pacifier and will help him adopt to using the paci.

      That’s your best “goal” option. If that fails maybe he’ll sleep better while swaddled in the Ergo. You don’t want him always sleeping in the ERgo but for rough days it might be a good option.

      Also remember that babies are their MOST MISERABLE at 6 weeks so you’re JUST over the hump. The worst is behind you and things will start gradually getting easier. I promise!
      Alexis Dubief recently posted..7 Sleep Lessons from a Stanford Pediatric Sleep SpecialistMy Profile

      • Thanks! I’ve put him in the swing (tried to swaddle but when he’s swaddled I can’t snap him into the swing so I just tuck him in really tight) and I turn on the vaccum in the same room the swing is in. He still refuses to take the paci but I will keep trying the pulling out thing (he’s actually taken to “chewing” on my nipple recently :( much like he does to the paci). But doing this I was able to get him to sleep for a 2 hour nap the other day!!! We’ve also downloaded a white noise album that we put on repeat throughout the night and he’s been sleeping so much better. I didn’t use it before because I was worried about the sleep crutch thing. It actually helps my husband and I to sleep better as well because we can’t hear his little squeaks and grunts throughout the night (oh who am I kidding, my husband never heard them to begin with lol). Thanks again for the advice…anything on getting him to suck instead of chew on my nipple??

  41. My son is 6 mo as well. He doesn’t sleep through the night and we co-sleep for breastfeeding. He recently started waking up every 2 hours to eat or just to nurse back to sleep. I do not nurse him to sleep during the day or to bed. His naps are only 30-45 min and he’s tired again after only an hour or hour and a half. His naps at daycare are much longer than at home and he’s up longer too. I’m off for the summer and I feel like I’m doing him a disservice :(. He eats solids after his first nap and at dinner time. He gets a small playtime to wind down, books, and I nurse him. He then put himself to sleep and he’s down for about 2 or 2 1/2 before he wants to nurse. I’m so confused! I feel like he should be up longer after each nap, but he becomes super over tired and then any nap is impossible! He ends up with 3-4 naps a day….help!

  42. Is it possible for a baby to sleep TOO much? My baby has always slept more than this chart says. Like, right now my 10 month old’s schedule is to sleep for about 11 hours at night, then take 2 or 3 naps each day, often for 2-3 hours each. I’ve tried playing around with her bedtime to see if I can get her to sleep longer at night versus during the day, but it seems like no matter when she goes to bed (and actually, no matter how much she sleeps during the day) that’s how long she wants to sleep at night. I’m not that concerned, more curious. Thanks!

  43. I am ready to move my 7 month old daughter to her own bed. She cries as soon as I lye her down so I’m leaning over the rails for a minute until she falls back asleep. Daytime napping lasts only about 15 minutes unless I lay downwwith her. Please help, what can I do to her sleep longer and on her own. She has always slept with my husband and myself and she still nursing.

  44. Hi, my son is 5week today and last 10days his schedule has completely changed. He is very fussy, hard to put to sleep. Wakes up at 4 am and may sleep next anywhere from 1:30pm to 4pm after he has had shower. In these 9 to 12 hrs I need to feed him every 15-30mjn, frankly he just is interested in shallow sucking and falls asleep on my lap… After 20min I put him down but he wakes up in 5 min. He doesn’t like swaddle and fights and cries till his hands and arms aren’t out, his legs aren’t little loose. This process of shallow feeding , rocking, trying to get him sleep continues and has left me tired. Tried pacifier but I need to be present there putting pacifier… For as long as I wish him to sleep. I feel he is only in rEM whole time and deep sleep doesn’t hapen. Once he sleeps in afternoon which is again a very tough process … He slews till long hours.. Deep slee.. Wakes up for 15-30min three four times for feed and at same time I do nappy change. Overall sleeps only 9 hrs. Is co sleeping as I find it easier for myself. Once in deep sleep can put him in his crib .. He has no issues with that. Till he was 3.5 weeks he was entirely different though even that wasn’t easy, he would take cluster feed of 2-3 hrs and then slee p for 3-5 hrs. And same cycle used to continue, on an average around 12-14 hrs of sleep. Which has now reduced to 9-10hrs. Any tips will be helpful.

  45. Wow, KEEPING your baby awake?? My baby is awake much of the day, unless I take her for a walk. Short of CIO nothing works for us. And how does this account for cluster feeding, or, for that matter, feeding at all at under 2 months? How on earth is there time for all this soothing and sleeping?? It doesn’t add up.

  46. Help! I really think I’ve had enough. My little one is no longer little as such as she’s 9.5months. We’ve struggled with naps and sleeps which feels like forever! We have had big changes ofovinf house which made an impact originally. Ok…so she used to only nap after having a breastfeed. Now she no longer wants a breast feed naps never happen in the cot. She just screams and I have tried cry it out for an hour and then give in. I reverted to the pram or car for naps which was working but now she just screams in them. Sometimes like this morning she wakes early and was up at 5:30 but has just screamed and refused to sleep in all 3 options (cot/car/ pram) and its 11! She did this yesterday and eventual passed out on me for 1.5hours at 11-12:30 but then refused to have an afternoon nap. Consequently our already bad nights of wakening atleast twice was made worse with an additional cry out. She does go off to sleep at bedtime well-ish (between 7-7:30) do atleast we have that! Also a recent thing for her is refusing the breast so I’ve been offering formula instead so don’t know if this has an impact. Sorry for my ramblings but any advice would be much appreciated!
    Thanks Emma x

  47. I keep reading not to let your baby become overtired and to listen to their cues, but I can’t find any advice on HOW to get baby to sleep when they give these cues. How do we get a baby who have these daytime naps to prevent over tiredness??
    I also feel there is conflicting advice (not on this site but many different things I’ve read) about daytime napping. Should the baby be in their room/a quiet place to nap? Or in a louder, more public place to help them distinguish day from night? Please help. I am confused, tired, and dealing with an overtired baby.

    • -Once they give the cues, start your soothing routine (dim lights, white noise, swaddle, sing, whatever you do) and put them down.
      -They should definitely be in a quiet place to nap. The loud ‘public place to help them distinguish day from night’ is for awake/activity time during the day.

  48. Hi there, I am a working mom , with a 4 month old son, who is BFing. He sleeps pretty well at night, 8ish to around 3am then to 6-7am. My problem is nap time during the day. I try and have the baby sitter follow a schedule, so I can feed my son right before I go to work and I right when I get home at 4:30. So she is suppose to feed him around 10:30 and at 1:30. Problem is that when she puts him down for a nap, he tends to sleep over 2 hours and misses his scheduled meal times. Eventually this led to him not sleeping well at night so I asked her to wake him up if he went over an hour past his feeding time or had been sleeping for over 2 hours. He is back to sleeping okay at night, but it has been a month now and she is still having to wake him to eat. Is this okay, or should I just let him over sleep? I thought by now he would have adjusted!

  49. I am going to kindly disagree. Some babies do need less sleep than others- that is on most websites. My baby is sadly one of those babies, but he is so happy and content all of the time. He does not show a single indication that he is tired – and I’ve researched a lot of them. He is 9 months now and is up for 6-7 hours at a time. He is sleeping a total of 12-13 hours a day. Most sites say the average number of hours a 9 month old needs is 14, but that babies can fall 2 hours above or below. However, to get this amount of sleep, the baby literally needs to be awake more than 3 hours at a time. I also think that newborn babies will sleep when they are tired if given the opportunity and they are in a calm, safe environment (like snuggled with their mom). When they are older they seem to need more effort made. this “modern” idea that we need to regiment and dictate every area of a new baby’s schedule is kinda ridiculous. If we would just do what came naturally and followed our instincts we all would be happier, more well rested with happier babies rather than coming up with rule after rule to try and dictate their schedule.

    • Well it seems like you’ve found a solution that works for your family which is really what we’re ALL trying to do. And that’s awesome!

      But as others will likely read this I do want to point out a few things for clarification:
      – Most 9 month olds cannot stay awake longer than 4 hours max. What happens when they’re awake for longer stretches is that the sleep pressure continues to build and cortisol levels rise. Now not all babies give outward signs that their cortisol levels are rising – some babies are just extremely pleasant and adaptive. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening. And typically elevated cortisol leads to less sleep because it’s a stimulant.
      – Also I take issue with the hint that I’m suggesting that parents dictate every area of a baby’s schedule. Truthfully I think I make fairly flexible suggestions here. The reality for many families is that babies won’t just nod off to sleep when they’re tired and the whole “They’ll sleep when they’re ready” chestnut has sent many a family down a bad path. So while your baby in particular has responded to this approach, I would wouldn’t criticizes others who have done things different because the vast majority of babies WON’T just nod off when they’re ready and assuming that they WILL leads to chronic sleep deprivation all around.
      Alexis recently posted..The Monumental Guide to Short Naps AKA Everything You Need to Know to Vanquish Crap NapsMy Profile

  50. I realize this article is a couple years old, so I hope it’s still notifying you of comments!!

    I have a question which will likely make lots of mamas want to punch me in the nose, and I totally get that! My 2 month old sleeps really well at night, anywhere from 8-10 hours, with a couple of 11 hour nights thrown in here and there. I don’t know how this is happening (other than constant prayer for a good sleeper the whole time I was pregnant), but I am NOT complaining. My question is, does this change the amount of time she needs to nap, or lengthen the time she should go between naps? She’s not very consistent with her naps, and they are often only 30 min or so. I am glad to trade day time sleeping for the peaceful nights, but I don’t want to be keeping her awake too much during the day if she needs more sleep.


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