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Better Napping Age by Age

Your child's naps aren't important just for your sanity, they're key to his mental and physical development. But there's a range in how much sleep each child needs, so you have to figure out the nap strategy that's ideal for yours. Here, general guidelines from Judith A. Owens, M.D., director of the Pediatric Sleep Disorders Clinic at Hasbro Children's Hospital, in Providence, RI.

Newborn

Sleep Needs
About 16 to 17 hours of sleep per day. He'll probably be awake only for one- to two-hour stretches.

Nap Strategy
Let nature take its course. A newborn's sleep doesn't follow any particular pattern; generally, he'll sleep when his tummy's full.


2 to 12 months

Sleep Needs
Between 9 and 12 hours of sleep per night, plus two to four naps lasting half an hour to two hours

Nap Strategy
Your baby will need fewer daytime naps as he gets older. It's helpful to be consistent (but not obsessive) with his schedule so he learns to soothe himself to sleep.


1 to 3 years

Sleep Needs
12 to 13 hours of sleep per night, plus one to two naps ranging from one to three hours

Nap Strategy
At 15 to 18 months, the bumpy transition to one nap begins. It may take some tinkering, but naps likely will need to be shorter, or earlier so they don't interfere with bedtime.


3 to 5 years

Sleep Needs
9 to 12 hours of sleep per night, plus one nap that lasts from 30 minutes to two hours

Nap Strategy
Give your child the chance to nap each day. If he seems ready to ditch the nap, encourage quiet time instead. By age 5, 70 to 80 percent of kids outgrow naps.

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