Taking care of an infant and a toddler can feel like a circus act as you try to balance their demanding needs. Because both your little ones likely nap during the day, you’ll want to ensure that they both get the sleep they need. Keep in mind that as babies grow, naps typically become longer and more predictable. However, with a little effort -- and a little luck -- you can schedule your infant's nap time to coincide with your toddler's naps and quiet time.
Consider the daily sleep needs of your infant and toddler. Newborns can sleep up to 20 hours a day. They sleep on and off throughout the day and night, so there's no point in trying to schedule naps. Starting at about age 4 months, infants typically have a predictable morning and afternoon nap; however, some also need a late afternoon nap, according to MayoClinic.com. Infants can nap two to three hours or more each day. Somewhere between age 12 months and 18 months, your toddler is likely to drop his morning nap and only nap once a day -- in the afternoon for two or three hours.
Watch your infant for signs of sleepiness to help you set a nap schedule for her. When she begins fussing and whining, or refusing to maintain eye contact, she might be ready for a nap. Other signs include eye rubbing, yawning, clumsiness and loss of interest in playing, according to the Lich Pediatrics. Once you learn your infant's signs of sleepiness, begin trying to set a sleep schedule -- and try to maintain that schedule every day.
Create a napping routine for your infant that involves your toddler when it's not time for your toddler's nap. For example, you might play soothing music and rock both little ones in a comfortable rocking chair until your infant calms and gets drowsy. At this point, have your toddler help you tuck your infant into bed for her nap. Then have something quiet for your toddler to do while your infant sleeps. You might want to read some books together or let him color in special coloring books that you reserve just for this time.
Strive to match afternoon sleep times for both children to give you a chance to rest, advises the AskDrSears website. If your toddler has a predictable nap routine with a specified nap time, put him down for his nap using the routine you always use to ensure that he stays happy and secure. Once you have your toddler down, create a quite environment to encourage your infant to nap, too. With soothing music and quiet rocking in the rocking chair, it’s possible that your infant will recognize the nap time routine and become drowsy as well. Put your infant down for her nap once she’s relaxed and showing signs of sleepiness.