Dropping naps. When’s the best time and how?

Two nap schedule

The majority of babies from around 7 months right through to 18 months will have a daytime routine that includes two naps. Some parents, after spending a lot of their time and energy working on a 3 nap routine, find they have more freedom when they get to the two nap stage and it becomes comfortable and predictable whilst lasting for almost a year.

When should you drop down to one nap?

You’ll know when your baby is ready to go down to one nap because he will take longer and longer to go to sleep for one of the naps and this is simply because he just doesn’t have enough sleep pressure/tiredness to go to sleep as he did before. The age range for being ready is often wider than for the earlier nap transitions ie from 4 naps to 3 or 3 naps to 2 naps. A lot of parents see a shift in their baby’s sleep patterns around one year old and think that this is a sign to drop down to one nap. However, I think it is best to see this as just a temporary ‘bump’ in the road and not a permanent fixture.  One year old babies are so busy learning a lot of new skills such as talking, walking, or cruising around the furniture so they actually need their sleep. Going down to one nap usually happens between 15-20 months old.

When your baby is ready for this change you will need to remember that this is a significant change for his overall body clock and it won’t just happen in a day. Your baby will need time to adjust to the changes and this takes at least 3 to 5 days for the new timings to become more ‘normal’.  It’s just a gentle reminder to you to allow for this change and not to expect too much, too soon. So that you can help your little one through this in a gentle way, avoid making this transition when you have a lot of other things planned (going away or parties or appointments).  You will find it easier to manage if, for a couple of weeks, you bring your little one’s bedtime a little earlier than before to avoid over-tiredness.

One Nap

Generally, this one nap schedule carries on until your infant reaches as close to 3 years as you can get. Some children need naps until they are 4 years old but many parents cut naps before children are ready. Naps vary based on family schedules and the age of the child but generally 1-3 hours of a nap anytime midday works well. Remember to leave a ‘nap gap’ of at least four to five hours between the end of the nap and your infant’s desired evening asleep time.