This is such a popular topic I am often asked about, how many naps should my baby be having, when to drop a nap and how to drop that nap? Here in this blog I will explain all about the signs, how to manage the transitions and what next…!
First off what the heck is a nap transition?
A nap transition is when your baby drops a nap during the day. Over the course of 18 months your baby will go from many naps, perhaps 4 – 6 a day to just one 1. The final transition will happen sometime between 2 and 3.5 years
Managing these transitions with ease and confidence
There are times and stages when your baby’s naps are dropped. Here is a guideline to the age brackets nap transitions usually happen. Please understand this is just a guideline, the typical ages in which these transitions happen. Many children fall just out with the brackets and that is ok. Some babies hang on to their naps until the bitter end and some are quite happy to drop a nap as soon as they can! Each child is different and what suits one won’t suit another. I know my daughter would still like to have 3 naps a day and she is nearly 4 years old!
Over the course of 18 months you will come up against many parenting hurdles and questions and you will wonder is this the time? Is this normal? What if I try it this way or that way? And with sleep it may be just the same. Your child will show signs however when they are ready to drop a nap. They may trick you into thinking they are ready as well so it is good to be prepared and equipped with the nap time knowledge!
Sleep “progressions” are hurdles that many parents question if their child is ready now to drop a nap, and the most popular one is 12-months-sleep-regression.html
If a nap is dropped to early it can cause havoc with night time sleep because your baby is not quite old enough to manage those long awake windows.
Other signs you may notice your baby is ready to drop a nap
They take a long time to settle for a nap
They wake early from a nap
They sleep well for nap but the next nap is a battle
Bedtime is a battle / take a while to fall asleep
They wake in the night for long periods of time
They wake early the next morning
Why drop a nap?
So you have seen the signs, you know it is time to say goodbye to that nap and now you have more time to play with your baby, or not have to fight to get the nap in. Brilliant! This extra time you now have is so precious to have together and also for the busy parent and siblings it frees up more enjoyable time together, you have more time for morning activities or perhaps they are off to nursery and they need to be ready to be awake for their fun day of playing!
Equally you may find dropping a nap enhances a lunch nap or bedtime is easier. Those 5am wakes are a thing of the past. Whatever it is, dropping a nap is a positive thing, a sign of growing and developing in the right direction.
How to handle dropping a nap
For some children it can be hard, they are super sensitive to sleep and going cold turkey dropping a nap may cause havoc for their mood for the rest of the day or night sleep is affected.
The gentlest way of doing it is by reducing the length of time they are asleep by 10 minutes every 3 days until it has gone. It may take a good week or more for a nap to be dropped entirely. When it comes to the long lunch nap you may find cutting it back by 15-20 minutes may be more beneficial and work better for your toddler.
If you are dropping that first nap of the day you may find the lunch time nap needs to be bought forward a little bit to compensate for a few weeks and then you can slowly push it forward to around 12pm.
If the lunch or last nap of the day has been dropped you may find your little one is struggling at bath time, grumpy and maybe even falling asleep at story time. This is a sure sign you need to bring bedtime earlier to bridge that gap from waking from lunch nap to bedtime.
These are adjustments to your child’s circadian rhythm, it may take some time, trial and error and a learning curve for your family but with you love and patience you will find your child’s sweet spot for napping and letting go of these sacred peaceful times!
If you would like some more help and guidance with your child's nap transitions drop me an email HERE and let me know what you need help with!
Please feel free to share this blog post with a friend who has a baby that may be going through the same as your little one!
Your Paediatric Sleep Consultant