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Set Nap Schedule

Updated: Aug 15, 2022

Have you ever heard of a 'set nap schedule'?

I get a lot of questions as to 'if' and 'when' would you consider doing a set nap schedule, so let's dive into that today!

First, the problem with a 'set schedule' with a baby that is under 6 months is that their tolerance for being awake for extended periods of time only goes so far.

So I do have a problem with a set schedule too early on because here's a scenario for you to consider:

5-month olds typically can handle 2-2.5 hours of awake time, and if most days this baby wakes up around 7 am, then takes an hour nap, you can then predict when the next naps will be.

But what if that same 5-month old wakes at 6:15 am one morning? All of a sudden, an extra 45 minutes of awake time to make it to the 'set' nap time, is a lot for this baby.

Ultimately, that leads to an overtired baby and the common rule that I see is that an overtired baby doesn't sleep well, especially for naps...

So, when do I suggest having a consistent, set schedule?

Typically when a baby is taking 2 naps that are over an hour consistently.

I usually see this around 7-9 months of age.

At this point, you can predict most days that your 9-month-old will nap at 930/10 am, and again around 130/2 pm, and round it out with a 7 am wake up and 7 pm bedtime, you have a pretty consistent schedule!

So up until then, I focus on a few other things besides a set schedule, and here's what I look at:

  • Wake windows!

    • In case you didn't know, wake windows are typically a range of times that your baby can handle being awake like the example of the 5-month-old. They are typically shorter earlier in the day and extend as the day goes, the longest wake window just before bed.

  • Rise time!

    • If your baby is waking up before 7 am, and in particular before 6 am (if that's happening, please, let's talk!), then they tend to be on the more tired side, and the morning wake window tends to be on the shorter side.

  • Bedtime!

    • After 3-4 months of age, most babies need to go to bed between 6:30- 8 pm. After 8 is too late, is what I commonly say.

I hope this helps!

Have questions?

Here for you,

Melody Patton

P.S. Is your baby not sleeping well no matter what wake window you try?

It doesn't have to be like that!

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