Afternoon Nap (2nd Nap)

The afternoon nap, which should be the last nap to go, usually lasts until 3-4 years of age. If this nap disappears too soon your child may get overtired and be cranky in the evening and have difficulty falling asleep at night. To fix this add
the afternoon nap back in (see post Restoring a previously dropped nap) or put your child to bed earlier. If this nap persists too long then bedtime battles may begin since your child is not tired enough to go to sleep. You can fix this by either making bedtime later or dropping or shortening this nap (see Dropping a Nap - How to do it). If the morning nap continues for too long or lasts for too long then a child may resist the afternoon nap or the afternoon nap may occur too late resulting in bedtime battles (see
Controlling Nap Lengths).

The best time to start this nap is between 12-2 pm since this is the time that coincides with a child's natural dip in alertness (see Biological Rhythms and Sleep).

It is generally a good idea to have this nap over by 3 or 4 pm so it does not interfere with your child going to sleep at bedtime.

This should be the longest nap of the day (around 1.5-3 hours) since it is the most refreshing (assuming it is done around 12-2pm when your child has a dip in alertness).

The longest period of wakefulness usually occurs after this nap.


  1. Tlc1283 commented on Afternoon Nap (2nd Nap) - My Baby Sleep Guide:

    When should this nap become the longest nap? My lo just turned 7mo but still takes 3 naps

    1. TLC1283,
      It'll vary a lot by age, but it'll probably happen 9-15 months when you are on two naps and morning one starts to be reduced in length. Sometimes it only happens right before the morning nap is dropped.

  2. Lauren commented on Afternoon Nap (2nd Nap) - My Baby Sleep Guide:

    My son is 10.5 months. His first nap is usually 2h45 minutes after he wakes up in the morning and he's second nap is about the same time after he wakes from his first. But for some reason, and this has been going on for weeks now, his second nap, which should be the longest is only 30 minutes to the nose. He never took 30 minute naps, just 25, 35, & 40 min short naps. And, I do nothing different with the first nap than I do with the second. So, he still needs to take a third nap and it's about an hour long. It doesn't disrupt his nighttime sleep most of the time, but it is disrupting the afternoon for all of us! What could it be?

  3. Carol commented on Afternoon Nap (2nd Nap) - My Baby Sleep Guide:

    My son is 7.5 months old and for the most part, his first nap is about 1.25 hours, but for the past 5-6 weeks, his second naps have been short - about 25-35 minutes. We've tried letting him CIO for another 25-35 min several times but that has never resulted in a longer second nap in future afternoons. He takes a third nap half the time, for about 30 min, but without it, he sleeps 1.5-2 hours TOTAL over 2 naps, which I don't think is enough, esp. since he wakes up crying after the second nap every time. Besides CIO, is there anything else we should be doing to encourage him to sleep longer for his second nap?

    Btw, we have not tried white noise or dark shades yet. But I don't know why the first nap is good and not the second. Please help!

    1. Carol commented on Afternoon Nap (2nd Nap) - My Baby Sleep Guide:

      Thank you, Rachel. We put up dark shades and voila, our baby started sleeping an hour or more for second nap!!!

      If I may ask another question, our only remaining sleep issue is that he almost sleeps through the night, but has 1 awakening around 4:30-5:30am every morning for a feed, then goes back to sleep for another 1-2 hours thereafter. He's 8 months old, and his bedtime now is around 7:15-7:45pm (was 6:30-7pm before daylight savings time), and he sleeps about 1.25 hours for morning and afternoon nap each, sometimes has a 30 minute late afternoon nap. So I think he gets plenty of sleep, with about 11 hours at night and around 2.5 hours during the day, depending on the naps.

      It's hard to complain when he sleeps 9-10.5 hours in a row every night, but it's just annoying and still tiring to do that one feed. I've tried pu/pd but he just cries and cries. I've tried ignoring (a la HSHHC) but that has never worked, and we've gone 35+ minutes of loud crying at 4:30am, and we have neighbors below us. I've tried to dreamfeed at 10-11pm but he still woke up at 5am (although we tried it at 7 months when it was probably too late to introduce a dreamfeed).

      What do you suggest we do? Ignore? Pu/pd? Graduated approach of going in, offering bottle / pacifier / nothing / dad goes in? Or scheduled awakenings? Or will he grow out of it on his own (I doubt it)?

      Thanks in adavnce!!

  4. My 9 month old has a hard time falling to sleep for the afternoon nap. I don't know what's happening. It's stressful because I have to find the exact right time and it seems to be always changing. One day this will work, the next it won't. What am I doing wrong?

    1. Try doing a set nap time for several days. If he is having a hard time falling asleep or having a short nap, make sure it isn't too early. Sometimes a really long morning map, even at this age, can lead to a short nap. Have a consistent daily routine (bedtime etc) and be consistent with your sleep methods.

    2. Maybe he could also be going through some developmental leaps...