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When does my child drop a nap?

general toddler troubleshooting Nov 08, 2021

    My name is Mica. I am a certified sleep consultant and founder of Rested Mama, Happy Baby. I help families on their journey to establish healthy sleep habits and get the whole family sleeping again!

 If you are reading this, you probably have a sneaky suspicion that your child is ready to nap transition.  If you aren’t sure, make sure you read our blog here, so you will know for sure if your child is ready to drop a nap.


How to Handle Nap Transitions


The Transition from 4 Naps to 3 Naps:

   The transition from 4 naps to 3 naps can switch back and forth for a few weeks.  While the total wake time from 1.5 hours to 2 hours may seem like a fairly small jump, it is a waketime that is almost a third more than they are used to.  Moving your child to this new nap transition will include adding just a few minutes every day to their wake time.  Once in a while, you may need to add in the 4th nap to avoid overtiredness if your child does not take to the new nap schedule or struggles with the increased waketime.  


The Transition from 3 Naps to 2 Naps:

   While some babies will start to show signs of transition as early as 6 months of age, many may not be ready to drop this last nap until almost 9 months of age.  This may be due to your child having been a preemie, but it’s also very common for chronic cat nappers to stay in the 3 nap phase a little longer.

   This transition can also often take 4-6  weeks to settle in.  You’ll want to slowly increase each waketime by just a few minutes each day. When you see that the second nap of the day ends too far from bedtime, you’ll want to add that third nap back in, even if it’s just another short catnap.  Remember, at this time, your child will also be ready for a longer waketime, so while your child might need that last nap because they have had insufficient day sleep, they may still fight that third nap.  Don’t feel any stress about doing that nap on the go, in the stroller, or in your arms just to help them get to bedtime until they completely transition.  Don’t be afraid of early bedtime during this time either!

The Transition from 2 Naps to 1 Nap:

   The nap transition to 1 nap can happen at any time after 12 months but can also happen all the way through 18 months of age.  It can be a tricky transition as your child’s waketimes nearly double during this transition.  Once your child starts showing the signs to transition, begin with moving the first nap later by 30 mins.  You can keep the second nap generally at the same time, up to an hour later, but cap this nap at 30 mins.  If they protest this nap and refuse to take it after 15 minutes of attempting, call off the nap and move up bedtime by as much as an hour.


Tips to Survive Nap Transitions:

 While all of these transitions are quite different, here are some general tips on how to Survive: 

1. Give your child’s nap schedule some grace.  Transitions can be a journey and it isn’t always a straight line.

2. If you see signs they want to take that last nap, use it as a catnap to help them get to bedtime. 

3. And, if it doesn’t happen, it’s okay!  Always use early bedtime as a weapon.  Early bedtime does not always mean early to rise.

4. During waketimes, use as much natural light as much as possible!

5. Keep them active and give yourself some grace too!



   If you need some navigation, we are here for you.  Use one of our 1:1 consults to help you navigate through a new schedule.  


  Learn more about how we work with families to help their babies sleep 10+ hours at night without Cry-it-out or Ferber.  Join our free webinar!


Sleep is around the corner, 

Rested Mama, Happy Baby Founder

Want to learn more about our approach?
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