Naptime from A to Z

6 to 9 months: Longer Time Between Naps

At some point during this period, your baby's routine will change. After waking from nap 1, he won't be ready for his second nap for three hours (instead of two). Of course, if he's tried, put him down sooner. But at some point, probably around 9 months, your child will move to only two naps. When Chloe was 9 months old, I used to put her down at 3 p.m. for her third nap of the day. Instead of going to sleep, though, she would play in her crib until she got bored; then she'd start crying. That's when I know I should drop that nap. The problem was that she was exhausted by the end of the day. The solution was to start putting her down for the night about an hour earlier than usual.

What if naps aren't going well? Start by looking at how much sleep your baby gets at night. One common problem, Dr. Weissbluth says, is letting baby stay up to see a parent who gets home from work. This can delay baby's bedtime too much. Another mistake is waiting until your baby crashes on his own from exhaustion rather than putting him to bed at a reasonable hour. "Both habits cause baby to wake up with a 'sleep tank' that isn't full,' Dr. Weissbluth says. "He can't make it to 9 a.m. for a good morning nap, and that messes up the whole sleep schedule." The quality of your baby's naps in turn affects nighttime sleep. Perhaps the biggest boo-boo is keeping baby up all day in an effort to tucker him out so he'll be sure to sleep soundly through the night. This never works (darn!). An overtired baby has a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep at day's end. As counterintuitive as it sounds, good napping means good p.m. sleeping. "Sleep begets sleep," Mindell says. "A child who naps well during the day will sleep much better at night."

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