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Nap Transitions

Wouldn’t it be nice if all babies had the same sleep schedule? If they all took the same number of naps for the same length each day? And they all went to bed and got up at the same time each day? The reality is, a baby’s nap schedule is constantly changing and can be confusing and frustrating to navigate. One day she takes a 30 minute nap, then a 2 hour nap the next day, and then decides to refuse the nap all together the next day.
It can be quite the challenge to have an unpredictable nap schedule with your child, especially during this time when we rely on those naps to get a few things done around the house or send a few work emails for those of us working from home.  Navigating nap transitions is one of the most confusing and challenging tasks as a new parent, so here are a few signs and tips to determine whether or not your little one is ready to make the transition.

General Rules for Nap Transitions

  • It might be time to drop a nap if baby is playing or protesting for long periods of time before falling asleep (more than 30 mins) for one or more of the naps for 1-2 weeks.
  • If baby's stamina is increasing between sleep periods, and she is able to be content longer before needing sleep again. This might result in her last nap of the day getting dropped.  
  • Her body will take some time to adjust to the new nap schedule. It takes the body 4-6 weeks to adjust whenever there is a significant change in sleep patterns.
  • Spending more time outdoors during any nap transition will help. Daylight is so helpful in telling our bodies when we are supposed to sleep.
  • If baby is up for long periods at night, it may mean she is getting too much daytime sleep.
  • Warning: Developmental milestones may also be the cause of nap troubles, so before you make a switch in the daytime schedule, make sure that you have ruled out any new developments. Nap trouble can also be a “phase” so make sure the problems have been going on for longer than 2 weeks. 

Average Age for Nap Transitions 

3-2 naps transition: typically between 5-8 months
2-1 nap transition: typically between 12-16 months
Transition out of napping: typically between 2.5yrs-3.5yrs

SLEEP TIP: Try to darken your child's sleep space as much as possible. This is especially helpful for daytime sleep. A dark environment increases a child's melatonin levels which allows them to get to sleep easier and stay asleep longer. 


About the author

Amanda Medley

Why didn’t we try this sooner?! As we speak he is sound asleep in his crib – and has been since 7:15 pm.

Karianne Wanggaard

Sleep Well Sleep Specialists

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Working with Shannon, I went from 2-3 wake ups every night to 1 or 0. She aligned the plan with my preferred sleep cycle. She was always coaching, never judging. Shannon was great, I have referred MANY people to her! That's the best testament to her work that I can give.

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