Dr. Marc Weissbluth: Creating Baby or Toddler Nap Time Rituals
How can I get my baby to nap regularly?
A wind-down ritual should take place 20 to 30 minutes before the scheduled nap—bath, bottle, breastfeeding, massage—but limit it to no more than 20 to 30 minutes. Most babies will need three naps throughout the day that last about an hour or so each.
So your baby's schedule should approximately look like this: Start day: around 6 to 8 AM. First nap: around 9 AM. Second nap: around 12 or 1 PM. Third nap: varies. Bedtime: around 6 to 8 PM.
Establishing healthy baby sleep habits might mean some crying if they get a second wind, because they are overtired, which will be hard on you, the parent. But don't let your baby or toddler cry for more than one hour at naps, and when you do go to her, be calm and be consistent with baby and toddler nap schedules based on Drowsy Signs and clock times, because that's what will help her learn. You are not abandoning your child—you are giving her all the attention when she is awake. But now, she needs to be alone to sleep.