Of all of the fun milestones that could happen between your baby’s seventh and twelfth month, changes to her napping schedule probably aren’t going to make anyone’s top ten. That doesn’t mean those changes aren’t happening, though!
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, babies ages 4 months to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health. In addition, at around 4 months, the ratio of nighttime sleep to daytime sleep increases dramatically, meaning children get far more of their sleep at night than they previously did.
This increased length of nighttime sleep, which often reaches around 11 to 12 hours, may lead to dropping a nap some time between 7 and 12 months. Children who are still taking 3 naps a day may drop down to 2 naps a day.
Children 1 to 2 years of age should regularly sleep 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours, including naps. After 18 months, some children transitions to one nap per day. When this happens, it will probably work best for a child to nap in the early- to mid-afternoon.
When and how often she naps aren’t the only way your baby’s napping patterns may change during this time, though. Her feelings about napping could also change, and your approach to naps might have to change as well.
One of the big changes on the horizon as your baby gets older is her growing attention span. This is a great sign of brain development, but also means that it can be helpful to start to give her a little bit of warning before it’s time for her transition to her nap time. your baby may not know how to tell time just yet, but she is getting to the point where she may be able to start to figure out words like ‘almost’ - as in, “it’s almost naptime, your baby, do you want to throw the ball one more time before we head inside?”
One of the other big changes in your baby’s personality that could have an effect on her attitude about napping is the fact that she might be starting to go through separation anxiety. Babies often start to show signs of separation anxiety around 7 to 8 months old, and it often peaks between 9 and 12 months old. Even if she naps perfectly well on days when she is in daycare, or with another care provider, on days when you’re around, she may be hesitant to let you go, even just to go to sleep.
There are a few different ways you can handle this, from deciding to spend some quiet time with your baby while she naps to introducing new sleep cues for a comforting napping routine. You can also try to compromise with your baby’s fears a bit by letting her nap somewhere different than usual, within sight of you, in an area where you’d rather spend your time. It may take some trial and error to work out the best way to make sure your baby gets her daytime rest during separation anxiety, but it’s a phase that will pass, and you can help it pass by reassuring your baby that whenever you leave her, you will come back.