From the day you bring your baby home we see them sleeping, napping and not always at the times that is conducive to our sleep and daily schedule! Very soon your baby will spend more time awake, your days are constantly changing and just when you figured out some sort of routine, boom, something changes and you need to figure it all out again!
So how do you know when it is time to drop a nap? Here I explain the signs to look for that your baby will show when that times comes. Remember this is just a guide and every child differs from the next. 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!
Here are 5 top signs to look for…
Your baby is of an appropriate age where a nap is usually dropped
4 - 5 months drop from 4 naps to 3 naps
7 - 9 months drop 3 naps to 2 naps
15 - 18 months drop 2 naps to 1 nap
2. When transition from 3 to 2 naps it is the last nap of the day that goes at this point. You will know this is needing to happen because your baby may be fighting this nap. Putting up a little protest or even waking early from it. This nap may also be interfering with bedtime. If you see these signs…it’s time to drop it!
3. Your baby may not be falling asleep quite so easily at any nap as they did before. Perhaps they are looking for some assistance, protesting verbally a little or just lying in their sleep space taking their time to fall asleep, more time than previously.
4. Suddenly you have a night wake up and for a long period of time or an early morning wake up when you did not before…this is a sign of possibly too much day time sleep.
5. Your baby may wake early from a nap when they did not before and you see a pattern of this behavior over a number of days.
How do you transition these naps…
Depending on how sensitive your baby is with sleep, dropping naps may need to be done gently and slowly. If you suddenly drop a nap this may have fall backs on night sleep and early waking’s and you may also have a very cranky grumpy child on your hands and that’s no fun!
Here are my top 5 tips how to drop naps…
1. GO SLOW. Reduce the nap length by 10 minutes every 3 days until you get to the desired nap length or it has gone.
2. When you feel the morning nap is ready to go you can also choose to extend the awake window by 10/15 minutes every 3 days with the help of distraction and natural daylight. Natural day light stops the sleep hormone melatonin being released but of course don’t push too much or you will have an overtired child on your hands. Then eventually the timing of this nap becomes the lunch time nap
3. Bring bedtime forward to compensate that last nap of the day being dropped and to bridge the gap from end of lunch nap to bedtime. Again, you don’t want an overtired child on your hands or then bedtime may turn into a meltdown with tears and tantrums and an early 5am wake up may occur!
4. Be conscious of your child’s sleep needs and follow their sleep cues
5. Be consistent. Every day the same. Consistency is KEY.
When a nap has been dropped, especially the last nap of the day and then the lunch time nap goes it may still be worth having some quiet time, just for a week or so, so your child’s body has time to adjust to less sleep in the day. Perhaps read some stories, do a puzzle or some drawing.
For more help and guidance on Nap Transitions get in touch with me, I’m here to help your family become more rested! I would love to hear from you HERE!
Your Paediatric Sleep Consultant