Oh, baby naps. They never stop being a hot topic, do they? I unfondly remember the days of trying to figure out exactly when to try to put one of mine down for a nap, and how long it should last, to preserve bedtime (aka my sanity) and morning wake-up (and any wake-ups in between). I've gotten a few questions about nap schedules, and instead of addressing each one individually (because really, I don't know any more than you do), I thought we could review common trends in napping.
By "trends" I don't mean The New Nap Stylez For 2011, but instead, what tends to happen as babies age.
0-4 months: Chaos, with some regulation as the weeks go on. Your baby will start by not staying awake for longer than 2 hours, and may condense sleeping into either a bunch of 20 or 45-minute naps or three actual naps by the time four months rolls around.
4-5.5 months: Your baby's sleep could go all to hell from the developmental spurts (buy the Wonder Weeks book or app to have it all explained to you). Or you may be one of the lucky ones whose kid starts to nap more linearly.
5.5 months to around 8 months: For a lot of people this is a time of improvement, when your baby is taking three naps a day.
8-10 months: Developmental spurt. All bets off.
10 months on through toddlerhood (with sleep blip at 13 months): Your baby might condense down to two naps. If s/he does, you might observe a 2-3-4 pattern. This means that the first nap starts roughly two hours after waking up. The second nap starts roughtly three hours after the baby wakes from the first. And bedtime starts roughly four hours after the baby wakes from the second nap. Both my kids did it on their own, like magic.
How do you feel about my rough timeline? Did it fit your experience? Did your child do 2-3-4 in the two-nap stage? How did you make it though the nap battles?