The Fast & Furious Route to a Perfect Nap Routine

The Fast and Furious Route to a Perfect Nap Routine - Babies = Chaos.  A loveable chaos…but still chaos.


What if I told you that it doesn’t have to be this way?

That you can spot a kind of loose rhythm to your baby’s cues that will save yourself a world of worry and pain  later on in the day?

I’m going to share the typical daily baby napping routines that you can use as a road map to follow your baby’s signals all the way to Pleasantville.

To paraphrase Vin Diesel…”Ride or Die” = Routine or Disaster  

(melodramatic, but you get what I mean).

The Hunky Hubster and I rented Fast & Furious Six last weekend, so it’s been on my brain. Dearest readers! How you suffer through my movie phases!

So what “should” the perfect baby routine look like?  Depends.  Hence the air quotes around “should”.

That perfect baby routine depends on…

  • how old your baby is
  • what temperament your baby has
  • whether you are home all day or have to work, etc.
  • where around the world Winken, Blinken, and Nod are currently cruising in their wooden shoe…

(Congratulations to be reading the only article in the universe that links action star Vin Diesel with a 19th Century baby lullaby…)

Today we’re going to go through several very basic examples of “typical” baby routines at different ages to give you something to refer back to as your baby grows.

Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce our two drivers for today’s Baby Routine Race.

Ned Normal and Sue Standard - Perfect Baby Routine

Meet Ned Normal and Sue Standard.

These are the world’s most boring babies.  Everything they do is exactly on the expert’s suggested schedule (who, in this case, is Kim West…)

Keep in mind that your little princess may suddenly shout “SCREW YOU SUE!” and create her own routine.

That’s totally fine.  My goal, remember, is to give you some road signs to watch for.

Always place what your baby is telling you over what you read here.

A Fast & Furious Baby Routine
at 1 Month Old

Ned Normal is going to be sleeping anywhere from 16 to 18 hours per day.  This means, that 2/3rds of his day will be spent in Slumberland.

That’s usually divided between 8.5-10 hours of (interrupted) sleep at night, and 6-7 hours of daytime sleep, split into four, 2-3 hour naps.

Warning: Nap Routine Ahead
Warning: Naps Ahead

Grab a piece of paper and start writing down the times your baby eats and sleeps.  (The Save Your Sanity Newborn Tracker was designed just for this purpose, and you can get it for free when you purchase The Milestone Marker.)

For Ned Normal, you can expect to see sleepy road signs after every hour of waketime.  You can see an example of this in How to Rock Out a Newborn Schedule.

A Fast & Furious Baby Routine
at 2-3 Months Old

The two-month-old baby will require pretty much the same amount of sleep as the one-month old.  The only usual exception is that instead of waking two-three times at night for feedings, she may only be waking once or twice.

Sue Standard will still be napping 3-4 times a day, at pretty disorganized times.  This is when her brain will start to understand the difference between daytime sleeping and nighttime sleeping.

You can move that snooze to the fast lane by making the room very dark and quiet (with a noisemaker to block the daily sounds) during naptimes.

Somewhere close to the third month Sue Standard will fall into a 3-nap-a-day rhythm, with a morning nap, early afternoon nap, and late afternoon nap.  Visit this article to see an example of what that could look like.

Yield to the Nap Routine
Yield to Yawning

Once again, use your handy-dandy notebook (or Newborn Tracker) to spot her natural EXIT FOR NAP signs.  That’s usually every 3 hours at this age.

A Fast & Furious Baby Routine
at 4-5 Months Old

Ned Normal can usually go about 8 hours at night between feedings, and a five month old may be able to go as long as 10 hours.  If this seems like a pipe dream, be encouraged!  The Sandman has some great sleeping tips.

As for naps, Neddy will nap around 3 naps, totally 4-5 hours during the day, with the average nap time around 90 minutes.

Stop for Sleepy Signs

STOP for Sleepy Signs

Ned usually shows the typical sleepy signs (glazed over eyes, moving slower, yawning) 2-2.5 hours after waking.

That said, if he’s an infamous catnapper (less than 45 minutes) watch for that STOP EVERYTHING AND PUT TO BED neon flashing light as quickly as an hour after getting up.  (Catnappers can be overcome, by the way! I share how in my napping webinar…)

A Fast & Furious Baby Routine
at 6-8 Months Old

Sue Standard is usually able to sleep around 11 hours straight every night at this age.  If your baby is still struggling with nighttime sleep,  the Sleep Shuffle is a gentle way to nudge her in the right direction.

Typically she will take 2-3 naps every day, with the morning and afternoon naps lasting about 2 hours, and an optional 3rd nap being limited to around 45 minutes.  (See an example.)  If your baby isn’t tired and ready for bed at 7:00-7:30, that’s a good indicator that it’s time to drop that third late afternoon nap.

Exit for Napville

Exit to Napville

You can start to expect the “Exit to Napville” road signs showing up for Sue Standard 2-3 hours after waking.

Napping Help

Living a Napmare?

Time for everyone to get better daytime sleep. Join me in a webinar called Napping Know-How: Learning to Gently Coach Your Baby Towards Better Daytime Sleep.  
I will be covering the most effective techniques to overcome catnappers, crib-haters, and the Anti-Napping League of Babies. See when the next class is offered.

A Fast & Furious Baby Routine
at 9+ Months Old

At nine months, sweet little Ned Normal can sleep around 11 hours at night, uninterrupted.  He also likes to take two naps during the day, both between 1.5 and 2 hours long.

At this age, you need to walk a close line between too much and too little sleep.  If he sleeps too much in the morning, he won’t sleep in the afternoon…and the result is Godzilla, storming through the house and wreaking emotional (and if he’s walking, physical) havoc.

So at nine months you’ll want to limit his morning nap to 1.5 hours.  As he gets closer he gets to his first birthday, you can shorten that morning nap down to a single hour.

The exception to this is if he’s been sick or slept poorly one night, or had a very crazy-busy morning exercising his new crawling or walking skills.  Once in a while lengthening a morning nap could serve you really well, but making it habit could seriously scramble things up.

You also don’t want to let him nap before 8am in the morning, or else he’ll be too tired in the afternoon to have his Mega-Nap (which can last anywhere from 1-3 hours).

Usually the napping exit sign for the 9-12 month age begins to peek over the horizon at around 3 hours after the morning nap ended.  Watch your baby closely for his “tells” that he’s beginning to get sleepy and then scoop him up and start your napping baby routine.

If your baby only take short naps throughout the day, he’s most likely going to be over-tired by bedtime.  I will give several strategies to break that catnapping cycle in my webinar, Napping Know-How: Learning to Gently Coach Your Baby Towards Better Daytime Sleep.  Get more details on this class.

Merge to one nap

Merge into One Nap

Somewhere between 15 and 18 months old, he’ll start showing signs that he doesn’t need that morning nap: he’s sleeping through the night consistently, he’s taking for-ev-er to fall asleep for the morning nap, or is catnapping).

For All the Nap-Haters Out There…

Some babies really just hate agreeing with all the other babies on how long to sleep.

Unfortunately, that’s murder on their parents, and it (quite honestly) isn’t all that great for them.

Resist the temptation to stop pushing for naps!

Sleep is just as important to that tiny brain as nutrition.  Both are needed for healthy growth and development.

If you are concerned about your baby’s daytime sleeping habits, I would encourage you to sign up for my Napping Know-How webinar.

I will promise you two things about the Napping Know-How Webinar:

  1. You will learn a ton of little tweaks that will help you better understand your unique baby’s sleeping needs.
  2. You will have fun.  (Because I hate being bored, and I’m not going to sit and talk about something for an hour without at least entertaining myself.)

Your Turn! What's your baby's nap routine?

*The information I shared above was taken from my favorite sleeping training book of all time by Kim West:  Good Night Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy.  Every parent needs a copy of this book on their emergency shelf.  It’s one of my standard must-share baby shower gifts. (Surprise: ruined.)

Napping Help

Living a Napmare?

Time for everyone to get better daytime sleep. Join me in a webinar called Napping Know-How: Learning to Gently Coach Your Baby Towards Better Daytime Sleep.  
I will be covering the most effective techniques to overcome catnappers, crib-haters, and the Anti-Napping League of Babies. See when the next class is offered.


  1. Oh I need this class! My 10 month son’s naps are veeerrry inconsistent lately and he has started waking up at night multiple times. Mommy (and Daddy) are so tired! I will check out this webinar for sure.

    • Will we receive info on how to link up to the webinar? What if we have computer problems? My computer is notorious for not working when I really need it to.

      • Jenny, go and start the registration. I will be taping the class, so if there’s an issue during the class period, I can easily send it to you afterwards. But we’ll hope everything goes off without a hitch!

        I will be excited to have you in on the class Jenny! I’m very excited about it, I know it’s going to make a huge difference for families like yours!

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