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 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 wake up frequently in the middle of the night – make sure that this restlessness isn’t due to hunger or colic or the environment of the room.
Apart from this, as a generally accepted pattern, babies spend around 16+ hours sleeping in their first one or two months. As they grow older, you need to slowly reduce their daytime naps. Here is how this will spread out across their first year:
- At around 3 months, your baby will take 3 -4 naps spread throughout the day.
- As they near the half-year mark, they will show signs of nighttime restlessness. At this stage, once you’ve ruled out other factors like hunger, 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 – if you notice that your baby is very cranky or unhappy, it may be due to lack of sleep.
- 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. Generally, the afternoon (or early evening) nap should be longer than the one in the morning 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. 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 reading to them at the time that they used to nap in, or listen to lullabies together. Soothing activities like these can make this transition easier for them and for you.