How long should a 5 month old nap at a time?

It’s important for 5 month old babies to get enough sleep. At 5 months, babies still need daytime naps in addition to nighttime sleep. Determining the right nap schedule and duration can help ensure your baby gets the rest they need to grow and develop.

How Many Naps Does a 5 Month Old Need?

Most 5 month old babies need 2-3 naps per day. The number of naps depends on the baby’s overall sleep needs and schedule. Some signs your 5 month old may need more naps include:

  • Rubbing eyes or yawning
  • Fussiness or crankiness
  • Pulling on ears
  • Decreased appetite

If your baby shows signs of tiredness earlier than their usual naptime, they may need an additional nap. Watch for cues and adjust the schedule as needed.

Ideal Nap Length for a 5 Month Old

At 5 months, most babies will sleep 45 minutes to 2 hours per nap. Here are some general nap duration guidelines:

  • First nap: 1-2 hours
  • Second nap: 45 minutes – 1.5 hours
  • Third nap: 30-45 minutes

Keep in mind every baby is different. If your 5 month old consistently naps longer or shorter, that may be normal for them. Focus on their tiredness cues rather than adhering to strict time limits.

Factors Affecting Nap Length

Several factors can influence how long your 5 month old naps during the day:

  • Sleep needs – Babies who need more total sleep may take longer naps.
  • Time of day – Earlier naps tend to be longer. Later naps tend to shorten as bedtime approaches.
  • Napping environment – Dark, cool rooms without noise or distractions can promote longer naps.
  • Routine – Consistent nap rituals and schedules can signal to your baby it’s time to sleep.

Pay attention to these factors and make adjustments if your baby’s nap duration seems too short or too long.

Signs Your 5 Month Old is Napping Too Little

How can you tell if your 5 month old isn’t napping long enough during the day? Watch for these signs of overtiredness:

  • Fussiness and crying – Being overly tired makes babies prone to fussing, crying, and emotional meltdowns.
  • Difficulty falling asleep – An overtired baby will often fight sleep and be difficult to soothe.
  • Bedtime struggles – Short daytime naps can lead to resistance at bedtime and night wakings.
  • Poor appetite – Excessive tiredness may cause decreased interest in eating.
  • Lack of interest in playing – A sleepy baby may have low energy and be less engaged in play.

If you notice these signs, try lengthening your baby’s nap times and allowing them to sleep as long as they need. An earlier bedtime may also help compensate for short naps.

Signs Your 5 Month Old is Napping Too Much

It is possible for babies to nap too much during the day. Watch for these signs your 5 month old may be oversleeping:

  • Missing wake windows – Long naps may crowd out opportunities for play, interaction, and learning.
  • Night sleep problems – Excessive daytime sleep can lead to night wakings or early morning starts.
  • Difficulty soothing – Oversleeping makes it harder to soothe baby and establish sleep routines.
  • Falling asleep while feeding – A very tired baby may repeatedly doze off when eating.
  • Delayed development – Overnapping provides less time for tummy time, motor skills practice, and interaction.

If your baby is napping more than 3 hours total per day, try shortening naps or adjusting scheduling to allow for more awake time.

Ways to Lengthen Short Naps

If your 5 month old’s naps are consistently too short, here are some tips to help extend nap duration:

  • Have a calming and consistent pre-nap routine, like a lullaby and swaddle.
  • Only put baby down for a nap when they show tired signs, not by the clock.
  • Make the nap environment dark, cool, and noise-free.
  • Use white noise or rhythmic sounds to lull baby into deeper sleep.
  • Gently rock or pat baby for 10-15 minutes before placing in crib awake.
  • Consider using a baby carrier for naps on the go to provide closeness.
  • Prepare a bottle or begin nursing baby to sleep to associates eating with sleeping.

If short naps persist beyond adjusting these conditions, talk to your pediatrician about underlying issues disrupting sleep.

Ways to Shorten Long Naps

For babies who nap excessively long, here are techniques to shorten nap duration:

  • Wake baby 15-30 minutes earlier than usual from naps.
  • Gradually move nap times closer together to reduce total nap time.
  • Keep naps in a louder, brighter environment than night sleep.
  • Limit car rides and stroller naps that allow oversleeping.
  • Gently rouse baby earlier with touch, voice, or interaction.
  • Increase stimulation and play in the hour before naps.

Making baby’s nap environment less conducive to long sleep can help limit nap duration. But take care not to disrupt daytime sleep too much.

Typical 5 Month Old Nap Schedule

Although nap needs vary, most 5 month olds follow a similar daytime sleep schedule. Here is a sample nap schedule for a 5 month old:

Time Activity
7:00-8:00 AM Wake up and feeding
9:00-11:00 AM First nap (1-2 hours)
11:00 AM-12:00 PM Playtime and feeding
12:00-1:30 PM Second nap (45 mins – 1.5 hours)
1:30-3:30 PM Playtime and feeding
3:30-4:15 PM Third nap (30-45 mins)
4:15-7:00 PM Playtime and bedtime routine
7:00 PM Bedtime

Adjust this schedule based on your baby’s needs, but try to keep a consistent daily rhythm.

Setting a Nap Routine

Establishing a structured nap routine can help signal to your 5 month old that it’s time to sleep. Try these tips for a consistent ritual:

  • Pick a soothing location like a crib or darkened room.
  • Keep nap times consistent from day to day.
  • Incorporate calming activities like rocking, massage, or soft music.
  • Avoid stimulating games, electronic media, or bright lights before naps.
  • Use transitional objects like a blanket, toy, or pacifier.
  • Change diaper and feed before nap to avoid disruptions.

Repeating these sleep cues before each nap will help your baby unwind and sleep longer.

Nap Training for 5 Month Olds

If your 5 month old is fighting naps or having trouble settling into longer naps, nap training may help. Here are some nap training techniques to try:

  • Graduated extinction: Let baby fuss for a set time before responding, gradually increasing the interval.
  • Fading: Sit nearby at first, then move farther away over days/weeks as baby learns to self-soothe.
  • Pick-up/put-down: Pick baby up when crying, then put back down once calm, repeating as needed.
  • Scheduled awakenings: Wake baby 15-30 minutes before usual short nap ending time to reset sleep cycle.

Be consistent with the method used and have patience for naps to improve. Consult your pediatrician if needed.

Getting Baby to Sleep Longer at Night

To compensate for short naps, you may need to put your 5 month old to bed earlier or implement strategies for longer night sleep. Tips include:

  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine like a bath, massage, and lullaby.
  • Put baby to bed before overtired signs appear.
  • Establish a consistent bedtime and routine early in the evening.
  • Make the sleep environment dark, cool, and comfortable.
  • Consider sleep training if baby struggles with self-soothing to sleep.
  • Ensure the last feeding is full to avoid hunger waking at night.
  • Address reflux, gas, or any medical issues interfering with sleep.

An earlier, solid bedtime helps make up for lost daytime sleep from short naps. But adequate napping remains important for development.

Common Napping Problems in 5 Month Olds

Some common nap issues parents face with 5 month old babies include:

  • Inconsistent nap length – Naps range from very short to overly long.
  • Fighting naps – Baby resists going down for naps and fusses.
  • Catnapping – Frequent, very short naps (under 45 minutes).
  • Skipping naps – Refusing to nap some days, leading to overtiredness.
  • Needing motion to nap – Only napping in car, stroller, or carrier.

These issues often resolve by reinforcing sleep routines and schedules. But consult your pediatrician if nap troubles persist.

When to Call the Doctor About Naps

Talk to your baby’s doctor if:

  • Naps last less than 30 minutes or over 3 hours consistently.
  • Your baby won’t nap more than once a day.
  • Nap issues don’t improve after trying different techniques for 2 weeks.
  • Your baby is sleeping more than 18 hours in a 24-hour period.
  • Excessive napping, restless sleep, or loud snoring may indicate a health issue.

While some nap frustrations are normal, an underlying medical condition like reflux or allergies could also disrupt sleep. Check with your pediatrician if you have concerns.

Tips for Napping on the Go

For busy parents, naps on the go may be necessary sometimes. Here are tips to help your 5 month old nap away from home:

  • Time stroller or car rides right before usual nap times.
  • Bring familiar nap items like a sound machine, pacifier, or blanket.
  • Choose darker, quieter spots like under a shaded tree versus loud areas.
  • Use a baby carrier and walk while baby naps.
  • If driving, pull over if able when baby falls fully asleep.
  • Accept shorter naps; don’t worry about adhering to exact schedule.

While naps at home are ideal, car and stroller naps allow flexibility if you must be out during nap times.

Involving Other Caregivers in Naps

When leaving your 5 month old with another caregiver during naps:

  • Share baby’s nap schedule and details about routine.
  • Note ideal nap environment like darkness and white noise.
  • Explain how you get baby to sleep, like rocking technique.
  • Provide familiar sleep items like a special blanket or lovey.
  • Inform caregiver of optimal nap length and any limits.
  • Tell caregiver the best way to soothe baby if upset.
  • Communicate how long baby can go between naps before getting overtired.

Consistent nap routines will help other caregivers successfully put your baby down for naps. Stay in close contact about how naps go each day.

Preventing Undersleeping and Oversleeping

To help your 5 month old nap the right amount:

  • Watch for tiredness cues – Use those as nap timing hints, not the clock.
  • Be consistent – Keep nap rituals, timing, and environment the same daily.
  • Allow needed nap flexibility – But not so much it disrupts night sleep.
  • Track naps/sleep – Apps can help identify issues like short naps.
  • Limit day sleep – Cap total nap time if excessive sleeping occurs.
  • Create an optimal sleep environment – Dark, cool room with white noise.

Careful scheduling, consistency, and watching for tired/overtired signs helps prevent under and over napping.


Determining adequate nap length, timing, and limits takes some trial and error in 5 month old babies. Watch for tiredness signals, maintain consistent nap routines, and make adjustments if needed. Allow total nap times of 2-3 hours per day. But remain flexible – every baby has unique sleep needs that change over time. With patience and attentiveness, you can help your baby develop healthy napping habits.

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