You may be noticing that your little one is not napping during one of the scheduled naptimes,
or sleeping much shorter than the expected amount of time. These are some indicators that your little one is probably dropping a nap.
This is not always a welcome stage, however it is an eventual and unavoidable one. This will require some adjustments on everyone’s part.
The first nap to drop is the third one, 3:30-5 timing. This should be phased out after about 6 months. That means, keep baby awake after second nap as best as you can: take a walk outside, play, music, eat early dinner, but avoid the car, stroller, carrier or you will have a snoozer. Baby may be fussy, so you will need to move bedtime to earlier in order to account for the lost sleep and to ensure that baby is not overtired by bedtime. So if bedtime with third nap has been 7:30 p.m., move bedtime earlier, try 6:30. Do the same bedtime routine and soothing. You may have to stretch baby to 6:30, by a few minutes each day, so if he or she is tired, tired at 5, don’t let her nap, begin bedtime.
Then the schedule should be napping at 9 and 1. If that is not happening, we’ll get you there.
Dropping the morning nap happens around when baby begins to walk (variable between 9-12/13 months) Most babies are not taking a morning nap at 15 months. The goal is to preserve the afternoon nap the longest. If baby takes the morning one, but not the afternoon one, it’s time to drop the morning one so that she can sleep in the afternoon and be properly rested for bedtime. If baby misses the afternoon one she will be too wound up/crispy/overtired to have a restful bedtime.
When dropping the morning nap you will need to stretch baby from wake-up (6:30/7:00) til as close to noon as possible. That may mean she only makes it to 11. Then keep working on keeping her awake a little longer each day. No car rides, no stroller, keep light, sound activity high. When she’s clearly getting very tired and fussy, begin the naptime routine. This will also then mean that baby naps maybe 11-1p.m. and will need a temporarily early bedtime until the nap truly becomes afternoon. So if baby is up at 1 p.m., bedtime by 5 p.m. for a little while. We don’t want an overtired baby at the end of the day, it will lead to night-waking, poor quality of sleep for all of you.
Children typically take an afternoon nap until around age 4. Some children around age 3 may tell you they don’t need a nap. Don’t listen to them! You may need to change your phrasing of it. “It’s time for rest-time.” Quiet hour in your room, whatever you want to call it. Many children will fall asleep during this time. You can also move to an every-other day nap schedule. Or you can merely solidify the rest-time. If your child is still napping everyday but having trouble going to bed at the regular time, (7:00) then it may be time for you to curb the nap. You can start by waking the child after 1 hour of sleep, or planning an afternoon outing. Children will again need a temporarily early bedtime when they drop this nap. In order to avoid overtired children, it may be necessary to begin bedtime at 5:30. At my house sometimes a meltdown at the dinner table means bedtime instead of dinner. We give the child a beef stick or spoonful of peanut butter and take them up to bed. Children need sleep more than they need food. Remember, healthy sleep is best for everyone.
However, if none of this works---call me!