All About Schedules

If I could give a category to my most frequently asked questions, those questions would all involve schedules:

  • How many naps should my child be taking?
  • How long should my child be awake between naps?
  • Why does my child seem wide awake at bedtime?
  • How can I get my child to stop waking up so early in the morning? 

All of these questions (along with many others) can be answered just by taking a quick look at a child’s schedule. It begins with naps. The following is a snapshot of schedules based on the number of naps currently being taken, along with anticipated nap transition timelines. Note that every child is different. What works for one might not work the same for another. Reach out to me if you have specific questions regarding your child’s schedule.

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These schedules are ideal for your child’s biological needs, circadian rhythms, and ability to get that deep, developmental sleep they need.

3 Nap Schedule

The transition to a 3 nap schedule begins around 4-5 months, but it’s perfectly normal for a 4 month old to still need 4 naps as their circadian rhythms are being established.

Once they drop to 3 naps, that’s the time to really begin working on aligning your sleepy bear’s naps with their biological clocks. The schedule below provides ranges for when you should try to get your child in bed and asleep. These ranges give a bit of a buffer as you will also need to take sleepy cues, their mood, and the timing of their morning wake up or last nap into account.

Ideal 3 Nap Schedule:

  • Wake-up (same time every day): 6:00 – 7:00 AM
  • Nap 1: 8:30 – 9:00 AM
  • Nap 2: 12:00 – 1:00 PM
  • Nap 3: 3:00 – 4:00 PM

The first two naps are the most restorative and we want to aim for having them last for at least 1 hour in the baby’s sleep space.

Nap 3 is more of a catnap or bridge to bedtime – this nap is not restorative and should be no longer than 45 minutes. This nap can also be a ‘motion’ nap, so if they need to take it on the go, that’s perfectly fine!

2 Nap Schedule

The transition to a 2 nap schedule can occur any time between 6 and 9 months, but is most common around 8-9 months.

Pro tip: If you wait to drop this nap until your sleepy bear is truly ready, the transition will be very smooth.

Ideal 2 Nap Schedule:

  • Wake-up (same time every day): 6:00 – 7:00 AM
  • Nap 1: 8:30 – 9:00 AM
  • Nap 2: 12:30 – 1:00 PM
Looks a lot like that 3 nap schedule, right? We simply dropped that third nap and pushed nap two back a little bit. The trouble we have with 2 naps is when we rely on those wake windows, nap 2 is generally too late, which then in turn pushes bedtime too late and so on and so forth. Thats the beauty of these bio times! 
In a perfect world, these naps would be at least 90 minutes and in your child’s sleep space as both of these naps are restorative and developmentally necessary.
1 Nap Schedule

The transition to 1 nap typically happens around 15-18 months of age, but can really happen any time between 13 and 24 months.

This transition can last a long time and be very challenging. Please reach out to me for tips on how to navigate this!

Ideal 1 Nap Schedule:

  • Wake-up (same time every day): 6:00 – 7:30 AM
  • Nap 1: 12:30 – 1:00 PM

Look even MORE familiar? That’s right, nap 2 from both of the above schedules has now become our singular nap!


I did not include specific bedtimes in the above schedules for a reason. Bedtime is NOT something we base off of the clock because we need to be flexible with bedtime. Bedtime is actually the only time I will mention an awake time duration. It is important to note that these ranges are not set in stone. You should also take into account your child’s sleepy cues and mood around dinnertime. 

The following durations are suggestions assuming your sleepy bear had an ideal daytime sleep day:

  • 3 nap schedule: Bedtime 1.5-2.5 hours after nap 3
  • 2 nap schedule: Bedtime 3-4 hours after nap 2
  • 1 nap schedule: Bedtime 3-4.5 hours after nap

When you follow these recommendations, you will normally see bedtime falling between 6:00-7:30 PM based on your child’s daytime sleep.

If daytime sleep is not ideal, or if they are in the middle of a nap transition then you would push bedtime up earlier. If they seem tired, it’s bedtime… no matter what the clock says! And yes, that may even mean 5:30 some nights and that’s okay. Night sleep prior to midnight is the most restorative anyway!

So what happens when this kind of schedule doesn’t work with your work life or other commitments? That’s when we need to get creative, do our best, and just work towards doing what we can to get our children the rest they need.

If you need more personalized, 1:1 help, contact me!

Laura King

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