6 Signs Your Baby is Ready to Drop a Nap

drop a nap nap schedule naps Aug 19, 2022
6 Signs Your Baby is Ready to Drop a Nap

Are naps overwhelming in your home? If they are, this is really common and you are not alone! From the number of naps a day your baby needs, to getting them to a point of taking long naps (but not too long of naps)… it can become a lot. 

It’s developmentally normal for it to take your baby longer to master daytime sleep than nighttime sleep [1], so when it’s time to switch things up in your newly perfected routine, it can feel difficult to manage. Though, if your baby is over 4 months old and still not sleeping through the night, please know there are tools you can implement to help move this milestone along - even if naps take longer to master! 

Just as your baby developing new skills is always changing, so are naps! In fact, naps are constantly fluctuating during the first 12 months of your baby’s life [2]. But how do you know it’s time to make a change to your little one’s daily routine and drop a nap?

Here are 6 signs to look for when considering if it’s time to drop a nap:

Signs Your Baby is Ready to Drop a Nap

  1. Age-appropriate 

Paying close attention to your baby’s age-appropriate wake windows and nap transitions is an easy way to gauge when it will be time for your baby to drop a nap. While every baby is different and on their own timeline, most babies fall within a common range.

Nap transitions:

  • 0-8 weeks: should be taking 4-6 naps. 
  • 8 weeks-3 months: transition from 4 down to 3 naps.
  • 3-6 months: most babies this age take 3 naps per day.
  • 6-9 months: transition from 3 down to 2 naps.
  • 9-12 months: most babies this age take 2 naps per day.
  • 12-18 months: transition from 2 down to 1 nap.
  • 18 mo - 3yr: most babies/toddlers this age take 1 nap per day.

Want to get a complete chart of wake windows, nap transitions, and sleep needs by age that you can keep handy on your phone? Check out my FREE Sleep Tips Download for children 0-3 Years old! 

2. Early Morning Wake Ups

Is your baby suddenly waking up at 4 or 5 am every morning and won’t fall back to sleep? They may be getting too much daytime sleep, lessening their drive to sleep at night [3]!

3.  Taking a Long Time to Fall Asleep

When it’s nap time, your baby is usually tired enough that they will fall asleep fairly quickly. So when they start taking at least 30 minutes to fall asleep, it may be time for a change!

4.  Frequent Night Wakings

If your baby keeps waking in the night (sometimes for hours) but is generally not upset, this is commonly called “split nights”. When split nights are happening, your baby simply just can’t fall back to sleep (like adult insomnia!), and too much daytime sleep is usually the culprit!

Check out this blog to learn more about split nights and how to fix them!

5.  Naps are Interfering with Bedtime

Consistency is key with baby sleep, which includes a consistent bedtime [4]! So when your baby’s last nap of the day keeps shifting their bedtime later by more than 30-60 minutes OR your baby is fighting falling asleep at bedtime, it’s probably time to adjust their schedule. 

6.  Short Naps 

If your little one is typically a good napper (taking at least 1-hour naps) then suddenly springs the dreaded 30-minute catnap on you, something is probably up! While this could be developmental, it’s more than likely that they are ready to drop a nap if it’s happening consistently! 

Want to read more about short naps and how to lengthen them? Check out this blog!

When you’re considering these 6 signs, it’s important to remember that these signs don’t ALL have to be occurring at one time! But, if you’re seeing 4 or more together, it’s likely time to drop a nap.

What if My Baby is Struggling to Drop a Nap?

If you’ve decided that it is time for your baby to drop a nap, it can be a real struggle for both babies and parents! Your little one may fight to make it to bedtime without that last nap at first, but it’s normal if they can’t keep their eyes open!

Here are some things you can try when transitioning down on naps:

  • Slowly stretch your baby’s wake windows by 15 minutes every few days rather than jumping to a new nap schedule your baby might not be able to tolerate right away. 
  • Add in an afternoon catnap to ensure your little one isn’t falling asleep right before bedtime. A catnap could look like a car or stroller ride where they can doze off for 20-30 minutes without the fight for a formal crib nap.
  • When necessary, you can try moving bedtime earlier to anywhere between 6-630pm. An earlier bedtime (as needed) for an overly-tired baby is actually more helpful in getting restorative night sleep than a late nap and later bedtime would be [5]!

Baby sleep is ever-evolving. Just when you feel like you have it all figured out… it changes! Try not to stress, and instead, try your best to go with the flow.

If you find yourself still struggling with your little one’s sleep, please know that you are not alone and that I am here to help. Download one of my comprehensive sleep guides for step-by-step recommendations and support. 



[1] [2] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jsr.12414 

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5465131/ 

[4] [5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32861189/

Need help transforming your child's sleep? Check out my sleep offerings for children 0-3 years old!


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