Nap Transitions: When to Drop a Nap
New parents get to experience a sweet spot in parenting just a few months into the job when the baby starts napping peacefully during the day and even manages to sleep through the night! However, this will soon change into a state where they’re suddenly fighting going down for a nap, crying in the middle of the night, or waking you up before the crack of dawn.
Read on as we look at how the number of naps your baby takes during the day changes during their first year.
When is Your Baby Ready for a Nap Transition?
Your baby’s habits will give you signals when it’s time for a nap transition. They may fight going down for their usual nap, wake up frequently in the middle of the night, or struggle with early morning wakings – once you’ve ensured the environment of the room is ideal, your routines are consistent and your child is going down to sleep independently, then it may be time for a schedule adjustment.
Getting an adequate amount of daytime sleep is so very important but As they grow older, their sleep needs to change.
Here is how this will spread out across their first year:
- At around 3 months, your baby will take 4 naps spread throughout the day.
- At 5 months once you’ve ruled out other factors like falling asleep independently, you may notice that their 3 naps are becoming slightly shorter.
- As they approach 8 months, you can slowly transition from 3 to 2 naps. For some babies, this can happen around the 7th month, but every child is different – at this point playing with wake windows by increasing or decreasing by 15 minutes can help find that sweet spot.
- These 2 naps will remain up until your baby is around a year and a half.
How to Manage Nap Transition
Babies are sensitive to any minor changes in their life so you can’t just drop a nap immediately. As your baby approaches the half-year mark, you can introduce them to the idea of 2 naps instead of 3 by shortening the length of the third nap. A quick, power nap of around 30 minutes will be enough to recharge them and keep them going until bedtime.
When you’re dropping the third nap entirely, make sure that your baby is completing their daily requirement of sleep (for healthy growth) in the form of two, longer naps. Ideally, with both naps at 1.5 hours each so that their sleeping hours are evenly spread out during the 24-hour day.
Dropping a Nap without Affecting the Baby’s Health
Every baby is different. If your baby gets too irritable and anxious during the nap transition, then it means they’re not ready for the change and you need to take it slower. However, It can take up to a week of trying to get your child accustomed to their new sleeping patterns so don’t give up on the second day.
Make nap transitions easy for your baby by taking them outside or feeding them a snack at the usual nap time, or listen to lullabies together. Soothing activities like these can make this transition easier for them and for you.