Yes, all babies are different, but what is true is that they all follow certain daytime sleep patterns as they grow, and they pretty much need (more or less of) the same amount of daytime sleep, and awake time.
When I became a mom I had no clue of when Sofia was supposed to nap. I had no idea of what a "normal" nap schedule looked like. And I had no idea it changed so often as they grew. I started off playing it by ear: when I saw her tired, she went to sleep.
During the first few months, I thought I had a bad napper because she would not sleep longer than 20-30min, often (I had no idea that was normal). At 4/5months she suddenly started napping longer and that's when I started creating a more set schedule with three naps.
When I finally found the chart below, I saw that Sofia had been naturally doing exactly what she should. So it made me feel better.
For example at around 8 months, I saw that she was not tired when the third nap approached OR if she did take the nap, she didn't go to bed until super late. The chart didn't tell me what I was supposed to make her do, the chart was just a way of confirming that what she was naturally doing, was right and normal.
Since she dropped the 3rd nap, she has been napping 2 times a day perfectly. But lately, since she turned 12 months, she has been starting to shift into the 1 nap pattern. So I looked back to the chart and voila.... it's time to drop one nap (anytime from 13 to 18 months)!
How has she been telling me?
- She has been off schedule: either she won't be tired at "nap time" (when she used to be super sharp on time) or she will simply skip one of the two naps (and do the other nap as usual).
- She has been going to bed WAY past her nap time if she has done both naps on a normal schedule (9-10pm) which obviously tells me she doesn't need both naps.
This past month has been completely off, which has made planning hard, but she's slowly transitioning from 2 to 1 naps and that takes time. It can be chaotic until then, but oh well.
When she consistently starts on this one nap schedule, I will update the "Sofia's 1year schedule".
Below is the chart that has helped me. Hope it can guide you too.