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:
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.
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.
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!
Here for you,
P.S. Is your baby not sleeping well no matter what wake window you try?
It doesn't have to be like that!