At 5 months old, your little one might be more consistently taking 3 naps each day. If not, look for their naps to start lengthening, a hallmark of the transition to a three-nap schedule. The transition from 4 naps to 3 marks a shift toward a much more predictable sleep schedule. Let’s take a closer look at what to expect this month with your 5-month-old’s Sleep Schedule.
Before we dive into the schedule details for your 5-month-old, know that the recommendations represent the average sleep totals for this age, but when it comes to sleep needs, there’s a wide range of normal. Your little one’s sleep needs may be higher or lower, and that’s ok. Don’t stress the numbers too much. If your little one seems well-rested, they probably are—regardless of the total hours of sleep they got. If your little one was born early, always use their adjusted age when considering sleep schedules.
At 5-months old, your little one needs 12-16 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. That breaks down to 10-12 hours of nighttime sleep and 2.5-3.5 hours during the day split between 3-4 naps. Keep in mind that your little one may do just fine with more or even less sleep than what is represented in this range, this is just an average.
Note: Nap duration for any particular nap may vary, just ensure total daytime sleep is 2.5-3.5 hours.
Wake windows for your 5-month-old will vary depending on how many naps they take on average. Little ones taking 4 naps each day can typically handle wake windows that are 1.5-2.5 hours long, whereas babies who take 3 naps each day can handle wake windows that are a little bit longer—2-3 hours.
Most 5-month olds are taking 3-4 naps per day and getting 2.5-3.5 hours of sleep split between those naps. The number of naps your little one takes will depend on how long their naps are. Babies who take longer naps can typically handle longer wake windows, which means fewer naps, whereas babies who tend to take short naps, usually have shorter wake windows and more naps.
The transition from four to three naps typically occurs between 4-6 months of age. As with all nap transitions, some little ones may drop their fourth nap earlier, while others may do so later. One thing to keep in mind with nap transitions is that they tend to happen gradually over the course of a few weeks rather than all at once like flipping a switch. Your little one may flip flop between taking 4 naps one day, and 3 naps the next for a period of time during this transition.
In order for your little one to be ready for a 3-nap schedule, they will need to be comfortable with wake windows of 2-3 hours at a time. Additionally, they will need to be taking more consolidated naps. Look for at least 1 nap each day to last longer than 1 hour.
The following signs can point to readiness for longer wake windows, and signal the onset of the 4-3 nap transition. Look for these signs to happen consistently, and consecutively for at least a few days:
The goal is that your little one will sleep for between 10-12 hours at night, but it’s likely those hours won’t be consecutive since night feeding is still common at this age. The longest consecutive stretch of sleep typically occurs at the start of the night. Your little one may sleep for 4-8 hours before waking for a feed, then have short stretches of sleep as morning approaches.
Helping your baby learn ways of settling to sleep with less parental intervention can be a great way to achieve more consecutive sleep throughout the night. At 5 months old. your little one is getting closer to having the skills to be able to find ways to self-settle. If you’re considering sleep training, it’s a good time to introduce some variety in your soothing routine so your little one has some practice with settling to sleep through multiple support techniques. Start laying them down ready for sleep, but awake to give them some practice with settling to sleep in their bed. This will provide some supported practice time for them to discover ways of self settling and give them an opportunity to settle to sleep in the same condition they will find themselves in when they wake up at night—in their sleep space. For more tips on how to maximize sleep at 5 months old, check this blog.
As we wrap up our exploration of your 5-month-old’s sleep schedule, remember that these guidelines are just that – guides to help you navigate this stage of your baby’s development. While it’s helpful to have an idea of the average sleep patterns and needs at this age, it’s equally important to stay attuned to your little one’s unique rhythm. Every baby is different, and your family’s routine will be unique to you. Pay close attention to your baby’s signals and don’t hesitate to adapt the schedule as needed. The journey of parenthood is all about finding what works best for your family, and when it comes to sleep, a blend of structure and flexibility often yields the best results. Rest assured, you’re doing a great job, and with each passing month, you’ll continue to learn and grow alongside your baby.
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