If you start seeing that your baby is struggling to take a nap, here are a few things to keep in mind.
First, make sure that you have worked on your baby’s awake window, have set up their room for sleep, and have a good nap time routine in place. If your baby still isn’t sleeping well for their nap, next think if they are going through a developmental stage or regression time. When babies are learning a new skill, it can often interfere with sleep. Also, make sure your baby doesn’t have any sleep props to help fall asleep as these will often result in short naps. If the above aren’t causing short or no naps, here are a few cues that it might be time to drop a nap.
- Your baby doesn’t seem tired at nap time and begins to have trouble falling asleep or it takes a very long time to fall asleep
- Your baby begins to consistently have short naps (if longer naps were the norm before)
- The last nap is too close to bedtime and there isn’t enough awake time
- Your baby starts to wake earlier (especially if this wasn’t an issue before)
- Your baby starts to wake more during the night
- Your baby skips a nap here and there
Generally, your baby will drop a nap around these ages:
4 to 5 months – 4 naps to 3 naps
6 to 7 months – 3 naps to 2 naps
13 to 17 months – 2 naps to 1 nap
24 to 36 months – 1 nap to 0 naps
If your baby starts showing some of these signs and they are within the age range of dropping a nap, then it’s probably time to adjust nap times!
You can find example age schedules at the bottom of this page!
Here’s how to drop a nap
There are three options that I find work best when dropping a nap time. The first is to let it happen naturally. On some days your baby may take a nap and on other days they may not. This works well for easy-going babies and also easy-going parents. You can read more about temperament here. This option can take a month to adjust to the new nap times.
Option two is to keep your baby awake by 15 to 30 minutes longer to help adjust to the change. You will keep them awake with extra play, daylight, or a snack. Limit anything that can trigger sleepiness, such as breast or bottle feeding, car or stroller rides. This option helps your child to adjust to the new nap times, but remember that your baby may be a little cranky when stretching their awake time and this will take anywhere from a week to a month to get on to the new nap times. Crankiness will be normal! Bedtime may be a little earlier to help adjust to the change.
Option three is to make the change to the new nap times. Similar to option two, you will keep them awake with extra play, daylight, or a snack. Limit anything that can trigger sleepiness, such as breast or bottle feeding, car or stroller rides. Your child will adjust fairly quickly (quickly can mean anywhere between three days to two weeks to make the change) but may be crankier while making this change. Bedtime may be a little earlier to help adjust to the change.
Remember, any change is like a mini jet lag and your baby’s body needs time to adjust, which can take about two weeks. Stay consistent and your baby will adjust before you know!