When should the third nap happen relative to bedtime at 5 months?
My 5 mo. Is maybe coming out of a regression. We nap him about every hour and 1/2- 2 hours when we notice sleepy cues. He sometimes can take a longer nap now : ), but not in his spacious crib : (. My question is about that last nap. How much time am I supposed to give between the last nap and bedtime to build that sleep pressure? As usual, his last nap ended at about 3:15 and at 4:30 I was faced with the dilemma of stretching his awake time ’til 6 or giving him a last nap at 4:45 and hoping for 7:30 bedtime. He wakes from that first night stretch anywhere between 2 hours – 5 hours and I can’t see a pattern. How do I build pressure but not overtiredness? How do I know if I’m giving him too many naps?
In general 3-4 hours of naptime is what you should aim for. Since naps are driven by sleep pressure and the circadian rhythm is promoting a consistent biological bedtime, I would think about it like this: pick a target bedtime for your son based on when he is consistently asleep for a long stretch (that’s a sign of the biological bedtime). Aim to have him down for bed at that time each night and try to proactively manipulate his naps to help him reach that. At his age ~2-3 hours awake before bed is good, but it all depends on when his circadian rhythm is promoting bedtime. For example, aim to have him down at 7:30 each night and map out when his naps should happen at the beginning of the day. If he doesn’t follow your plan, you might try to stretch him a little here or there throughout the day to preserve bedtime. In about a month his naps will be more stable and you won’t have to worry so much about controlling his timing. In general you want his naps to allow for that regular bedtime, but once in a while when you get to that “no man’s land” where you don’t have time for a catnap at the end of the day, then put him down ~30-45 minutes early for bedtime. Good luck!