As babies get older and their brains develop, they are able to stay awake for longer periods of time, causing shifting sleep patterns.Their naps begin to consolidate and instead of having multiple sporadic naps a day, their naps lengthen, awake windows increase and thus they require less naps throughout the day. The typical signs that your little one is ready to drop a nap are:
It’s important to note that other factors can sometimes cause your baby to resist sleep such as regressions, over /under tiredness, hunger, room conditions, sleep props or if your baby is unwell. Once all these factors are ruled out, your baby falls within the age bracket specified below, and they are displaying signs on most days of the week for more than 2-3 weeks, you are left with the likelihood that it is time to drop a nap. The three major nap transitions that happen during the first 4 years of your child’s life are:
The first major nap transition typically happens between 7-9 months of age, as most babies move from three to two naps a day. If any of the signs mentioned above start occurring and last for more than two weeks, you can start making changes to your child’s schedule to drop the third nap of the day. Aim for two set nap times and start pushing towards those times by 15-30 minutes each day.
During this transition, the time between the second nap and bedtime may seem long and your little one may become fussy and overtired. To prevent this, bring bedtime up by half hour until they have adjusted to the new schedule. Prepare yourself for this transition with lots of stimulating activities to keep your little one up that extra 15- 30 minutes.
When babies are between 13-18 months you can expect to see the transition from two to one nap a day. At this stage their awake windows would have increased and your little one can stay awake for 4-5 hours at a time. You will know they are ready to drop their morning nap when they start resisting naps, taking longer to go to sleep at night or start having early morning wakings.
This transition can be made by either dropping the morning nap ‘cold turkey’ and keeping them awake until a midday nap, or by gradually pushing their morning nap back by 15-30 minutes each day until it is at midday. This nap should be 1 ½ -3 hours long to ensure they are getting good restorative sleep and not overtired for bedtime. If your little one is not getting a minimum of 1 ½ hours of daytime sleep, you may want to think about nap training. During this transition you can bring bedtime earlier, as early as 6pm to prevent your little one from becoming overtired. Your little one can take from 3-6 weeks to really adjust to this new schedule, so really be patient with this one!
The transition form one to no naps a day is recommended to happen between 3-4 years of age. Most parents think this happens at the age of 2, however most times it is simply a sleep regression. As mentioned earlier you will know if it’s time to drop the nap if they are resisting sleep for more than 2-3 weeks, the nap starts interfering with bedtime and on days when your little one does miss their nap, they are not overly fussy until the evening.
If bedtime starts becoming a challenge, try cutting their nap by 15-30 minutes at a time to see if that helps before dropping the nap all together. Another thing you may try before dropping the nap, is leaving them in their room for the duration of the nap (minimum 1 hour). If after a few weeks they continue to resist sleep, you may drop it and introduce ‘quiet time’. This time is to help quiet their minds, prevent over stimulation and over tiredness approaching bedtime. It is a time for quiet independent play, such as coloring or reading. You may do this until their bodies (and yours) have adjusted to no more day sleep.
I hope you now feel confident knowing when your little one is ready to drop their nap. But also know that if you little has always resisted sleep, we can help! Reach out to either Marie or I to set up a free 15 minute consultation today!