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5 Signs It's Time to Drop a Nap

Posted on . Last updated .

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Cara Dumaplin

baby sitting with arms crossed not wanting to nap

Babies can be so tricky! As soon as you’ve settled into a comfortable, predictable routine, everything changes. It’s not your imagination! This near-constant changing is true for baby activities, baby skills, baby feeding -- and, of course, baby naps.

So how do you know that your baby is ready to change routines and drop a nap?

Here are the 5 signs to look for:

(You’ll likely see a few of these when it’s time. If you’ve already decided it’s time, go check out How to Drop a Nap.)

1. Your baby is at or near the appropriate age range:

4 naps → 3 naps: 4 to 5 months 3 naps → 2 naps: 6 to 7 months 2 naps → 1 nap: 13 to 17 months

2. The last nap of the day is interfering with bedtime.

Is your little one suddenly fighting bedtime?  Perhaps this sounds familiar: After following your bedtime routine, your baby used to put himself to sleep within minutes, but now he either protests like crazy or just lies in his crib awake.

He may simply need to be awake longer before bedtime. Sure, shifting bedtime a bit later can help--for awhile. But eventually, he’ll need to drop that last nap to keep his bedtime between 7:00 and 8:00pm AND get the awake time his body requires to fall asleep easily.

3. Your baby--all of a sudden--just doesn’t seem tired at naptime and begins to have trouble falling asleep.

If your baby was able to fall asleep at naptime a week ago but now just won’t seem to drift off, this can be a sign that your little one needs more awake time prior to each nap. Dropping a nap helps create an age-appropriate daytime schedule and prevents a battle at naptime.

If you need help setting up a flexible routine appropriate for your baby, Nap Schedules: 5 Months to 25 Months will help you tremendously.

If falling asleep at naptime has always been a struggle, I can help! Check out my online class, The ABCs of Sleep. It’s designed to help you get your little one (5-24 months) sleeping through the night, gradually wean night feedings, and conquer naps too. Need a place to start today? Try implementing the strategies from my free resource: 5 Daytime Tips for Better Nights (and Naps!).

4. Early morning wakings are becoming your norm.

Baby suddenly wide awake and ready to party at 5:00am when this previously wasn’t an issue? This can mean it’s time to drop a nap also.

Early morning wakings can be caused by too much daytime sleep. As your baby grows, her sleep requirements lessen. Too much daytime sleep CAN create shorter night sleep, simply because your baby’s sleep needs have already been met during the day.

Expert Tip: There are many causes of early morning wakings, so before you decide to drop a nap, check out this blog post about the 10 Culprits for Early Morning Wakings.

5. Your baby begins to consistently have short naps--when longer naps were normal before.

Baby suddenly deciding naptime is over after a 30-45 minute snooze?

If your baby suddenly starts taking shorter naps, his nap schedule may be the culprit. It’s very possible that he needs more awake time before he will be ready for a solid nap. Dropping a nap during the day can be the answer to helping your baby be tired enough to take long, restful naps.

Expert Tip: There are many factors that can cause short naps so check out this blog post on 10 Questions to Ask if Your Little One is Struggling with Short Naps before you drop that nap.

So, you’ve decided it’s definitely time to drop a nap, but you’re not sure how to approach it?

Go visit the blog post How to Drop a Nap. And remember, babies and their changing needs can be challenging, but you’ve got this!

babies playing with blocks at daycare

Daycare & Baby Sleep

baby walking with Mom during awake time

How to Drop a Nap

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