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Baby's Daily Needs: What to Expect - Topic Overview

Sleeping continued...

At first, babies often sleep through loud noises. But at about 3 to 4 months of age many babies become easily disturbed by noises like the phone ringing or a dog barking.

During a baby's first few months, maturing of the brain allows the baby gradually to sleep for longer periods. By age 3 months, most babies sleep for their longest period (up to 7 to 8 hours) during the night and develop set nap times. They are also more alert when awake and you can gradually add time between feedings. At about 3 to 4 months, start bedtime rituals to help your baby relax. Read a story, play quiet music, sing, rock your baby, or give him or her a gentle massage. Avoid loud music or sounds and bright lights.

Sleep patterns often change during the second half of the first year. By 9 months of age and into the second year of life, it can be hard for some babies to let go of the excitement of the day. Also at this age, many babies want to exert control over their actions. Because of these things, your baby may resist going to sleep at the times you want. To promote a regular schedule, stay with your routines when your baby resists going down for a nap or going to bed at the usual time.


Somewhere between 12 and 24 months of age, your toddler will likely resist a morning nap and want to rest only in the afternoon. Your child's attempt to switch to one nap a day often occurs at about 18 months of age. Many doctors recommend keeping both naps as long as possible for both the child's and the parents' benefit.

When your child resists taking a nap, you can try blocking out time in the afternoon for a quiet period. Even if your child doesn't sleep, he or she usually still needs a restful break.

A toddler's excitement about learning to walk and about his or her emerging independence can sometimes also disrupt afternoon nap schedules. Toddlers often are more eager to practice new skills than to sleep. You may want to try some of the following tips to help your child get needed rest:

  • Have your child nap in the same place that he or she sleeps at night, if possible.
  • Tell your child when nap time is approaching, such as by saying "10 more minutes and it's time to lie down."
  • Slow down the pace as nap time nears. Play quietly, read books, or initiate other soothing activities.
  • Time naps so they don't extend past 3 or 4 in the afternoon, or you may have a harder time putting your child to bed at night.
  • Make sure the napping room is quiet and dark. Try playing soft music, running a fan, or providing other soothing sounds.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 01, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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