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Naps v Night-time Sleep: Which One Is Most Important?

Naps V Night-time sleep

It can be difficult to get the right balance between napping and night sleeping for your little one, and even more difficult to get them into a routine. So how do you know if your baby is getting enough sleep? The best way of telling this, is by looking at your baby’s happiness and behaviour. Clumsiness and a reduced attention span can indicate that your baby or toddler may be overtired. Of course, it is always possible to have a fussy baby without them being overtired! Trust your instincts and you won’t go wrong!

When planning a new routine for your baby, don’t forget to bear in mind that your baby’s total sleep in a day will remain more or less constant. For example, if your baby sleeps on average 13 hours a day, then you can split that up between say 11 hours a night and 2 hours of catnaps during the day. Try and experiment with the lengths of catnaps to make sure that you create the perfect routine for your little one.

Here are some general guidelines for deciding which is more important – naps or night sleep.


If your baby sleeps for a long time at night (say 12 hours or more) consider shortening their night time sleep, to achieve longer naps during the day. Although it may seem counter-productive initially, it will help to balance your baby’s sleep and it will help to regulate their body creating the perfect sleeping schedule for both you and your baby.

If your baby sleeps 11-12 hours at night, this is the ideal amount of night sleep for your baby. Again, it is important to find a balance between naps and night sleeping, so if your baby only naps for a couple of hours a day, that’s fine, it is probably all they need considering they are averaging a good amount of sleep in the night. Be mindful not to push your baby into taking longer or more naps during the day as this will definitely impact on their nightly sleep and will lead to a vicious circle. Just go with the flow, and see what works best for your little one.


If you baby sleeps for around 10 hours a night but naps a lot during the day, it might be worth cutting down on nap time to encourage your little one to sleep for longer at night. However, if your baby isn’t napping and sleeping for 10 hours or less a night, it might be down to a different issue and you may have to consider sleep training.

These are just rough guidelines because there are so many variables involved in creating our baby’s sleep schedule. Your baby will have its own unique sleep needs so don’t worry if they don’t quite fit into the guidelines above! Do your own research to find out what its best for your baby and remember that what the books say, what the internet says and what your friends say are just guidelines and not rules set in stone.

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