What’s the best time to nap or feed my baby or toddler? Confused moms want to know!

By Chaya Shifra Sadoff


Babies are so confusing.

You can do the same exact thing two times, and they will react in two totally different ways.

Someone should let them know that this is completely unfair to us hardworking mothers, and that it would really be in their best interest to be a little more predictable. If you want to take the job, let me know.

In the meantime, though, all we have is our super-sleuth mommy skills and boatloads of (contradictory) advice to get us through.

So let’s talk tachlis: how can you figure out when your baby is supposed to be eating and sleeping so that you can all have some sanity in your day?

Scheduling? Scheduled feeds? Scheduled naps? Or demand-feed and nap whenever? And what about solids?

The three most important things to take into account when building your child’s schedule (or non-schedule) are his/her awake time limit, ideal timing for eating and bedtime.

What Should My Baby’s Schedule Be? What’s the best time to nap or feed my baby or toddler? Confused moms want to know!

Awake Time Limit

I could write a blog post on this alone, but I’ll cut to the point: your baby or young toddler has a limited amount of time that he or she can handle being awake. Trust me on this one

So how long can your baby stay awake between night and naps or between naps? Well, that’ll depend on two things: your child’s age and how overtired she is.

Below, I’ve included a chart of average awake time limits for well-rested babies. Note that if your baby is chronically overtired (and no, you’re not a bad mom if she is; truth is, most babies are), your child’s awake time limit might be 30-60 minutes less than the average for his age.


Age Awake Time Limit
0-6 weeks 45 min – 1 hour
6-12 weeks 45 min – 1 hour and 15 min
3-5 months 1 hour and 15 min – 2.5 hours
5-7 months 2-3 hours
8-14 months 3-4.5 hours
14 months – 2.5 years 4-6 hours
2.5-3.5 years 5-12 hours
3.5-5 years 12 hours


Ideal Timing for Eating


From a lactation/infant feeding perspective, the best time to nurse or bottle feed your baby is when he is quiet and alertwhich usually happens right after wakeup.

From a sleep perspective, it’s best to keep the time before sleep free of nursing or bottle-feeding.

That means that the ideal daytime routine for newborns is going to be Eat, Play, Sleep over and over again; for infants, it’ll be more of an Eat, Play, Eat, Play, Sleep to make sure they’re eating enough. (So no, I’m not a believer in scheduled feeds; but I also believe that it’s best if you feed your child BEFORE she criescue feeding rather than demand feeding.)

I generally find that the best time to serve solids to babies under 12 months is about 1.5 hours after wakeup (which is about 1.25 hours after the baby has finished nursing or finished her bottle.

With toddlers who are no longer nursing, it’s a bit less trickyjust feed 3 regular meals and 1-2 snacks.



What Should My Baby’s Schedule Be? What’s the best time to nap or feed my baby or toddler? Confused moms want to know!

There are always a lot of factors to take into account when planning your baby’s or toddler’s bedtime, but one of the most important thing is their own physical needs. Children 5-6 and younger need about 12 hours of nighttime sleep, and are primed to fall asleep between 6 and 8 pm. I generally find that most children do best on a 7pm-7am nighttime.


Let’s Make Some Schedules!

Alrighty! We’ve got the foundational information behind uslet’s talk about schedules!

But wait – one more thing before we do: I want you to keep in mind that these schedules are “approximate ideal schedules”that means that a child with healthy sleep hygiene and good independent sleep skills will have a day that looks roughly like the schedules I’ve outlined below.

It’s a lot more about getting the timing right for awake time limit and bedtime, and sticking with a daytime routine rather than getting caught up in “when nap time is” and “when he’s ready to eat”especially if you have a baby on two naps or more.


Here are some sample approximate ideal schedules:


Approximate Ideal Schedule – 4 Months
7:00 am Wake up for the day!
7:15 am Nurse/bottle
8:45 am Nap #1 begins
10:45 am Wake from nap #1
11:00 am Nurse/bottle
11:45 am Nurse/bottle
12:30 pm Nap #2 begins
2:00 pm Wake from nap #2
2:15 pm Nurse/bottle
3:00 pm Nurse/bottle
3:45 pm Nap #3 begins
5:15 pm Wake from nap #3
5:30 pm Nurse/bottle
6:30 pm Start bedtime routine
6:50 pm Nurse/bottle
7:00 pm In bed
(1-2 times at night) Nurse/bottle
Approximate Ideal Schedule – 7 Months
7:00 am Wake up for the day!
7:10 am Nurse/bottle
8:15 am Breakfast/nurse/bottle
9:15 am Nap #1
11:30 am Wake from nap #1
11:45 am Nurse/bottle
1:00 pm Lunch
2:30 pm Nap #2
4:00 pm Wake from nap #2
4:15 pm Nurse/bottle
5:00 pm Dinner/nurse/bottle
6:30 pm Nurse/bottle
6:40 pm Start bedtime routine
7:00 pm In bed
Approximate Ideal Schedule – 15 Months
7:00 am Wake up for the day!
8:00 am Breakfast
10:00 am Snack
11:30 am Lunch
12:15 pm Nap
3:00 pm Wake from nap
3:30 pm Snack
5:00 pm Dinner
6:30 pm Start bedtime routine
7:00 pm In bed


Approximate Ideal Schedule – 2 years
7:00 am Wake up for the day!
8:00 am Breakfast
10:00 am Snack
11:30 am Lunch
12:30 pm Nap
2:00 pm Wake from nap
3:30 pm Snack
5:00 pm Dinner
6:30 pm Start bedtime routine
7:00 pm In bed


Remember that these schedules are APPROXIMATE. They are by no means l’Moshe misinai, so please adjust as necessary according to your and your family’s needs.


I have excluded nursing from the schedules above 14 months because most of my clients are no longer nursing then. If you are nursing, I recommend following the same guidelines as above when determining when it is ideal to nurse.


For a comprehensive guide on figuring out the ideal schedule for your child, download my guide on theFive Essential Habits for a Good Night’s Sleep HERE and check out habit 2.

About Chaya Shifra:

Chaya Shifra Sadoff is mom of twins and a miracle worker (under the guise of a Certified Sleep Sense Consultant and Lactation Counselor). She works with mothers across the world to build the motherhood they dreamed of by transforming their children (newborns, infants and toddlers) into superstar sleepers. She would also would love feedback from YOU! Shoot her an email shifra@kinderwink.com, call 847-868-9465, find her on instagram @kinderwink or check out www.kinderwink.com for more great tricks, tips, and info. Download her free guide Five Essential Habits for a Good Night’s Sleep HERE.



  1. Great article, thank you!! My banybis 9 months and nursing. I feed her breakfast and dinner. At what age do I incooperate lunch?

    • Hi Shaindy,

      Glad you enjoyed the article!

      If your baby is doing well with solids, and you feel like she’s read for another meal of solids, now’s a great time to incorporate it! I generally aim for having 3 meals of solids at about 9 months (not a hard rule, but a general guideline).

      Chaya Shifra

      • Thanks for your response. Can you please share some meal ideas? I don’t buy ready jars. She has oatmeal mixed with yogurt for breakfast. And chicken with vegetables for dinner

        • Hi Shaindy,

          Anything goes! I like to focus on good fats and proteins, vegetables, fruit and wholesome carbs – and, of course, variety! Chicken, veggies, oatmeal and yogurt are a great start!

          Some of my top recommended foods are: avocados, nut butters or peanut butter (the natural butters are best – they’re not a choking hazard and don’t have all that extra “stuff”in them), hardboiled eggs, scrambled eggs, sauteed or roasted veggies (or raw if she’s got teeth), full fat cottage cheese, plain whole fat greek yogurt, meatballs or patties, salmon, soup and soup vegetables, sweet potatoes, … I think I could go on and on here 🙂 Don’t be afraid to grease things up with butter or coconut oil – the fats are so good for them!

          With babies this age I focus less on “meals” and more on – protein, fat, veggie and carb. (And those can be two in one – a protein with fat, carb in a veggie.)

          Remember she’s also still nursing, and she’s got a little tummy – don’t expect her to eat loads!

          Chaya Shifra

  2. Hi shaindy ,
    Thanks for the information
    My child Is 6 months he’s awake around 6:30 and I find if I keep him up until 9:30. He will take a 3.5/4 hr nap. But the second nap is only a 20 min snooze to get him until bed time at 7 . Is it healthier to give 2 2 hr naps or is the way I’m doing it ok too?


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