Just when you think you've gotten your child on a great nap schedule, it's time to change it again! This is because as they get older, their wake windows and day time sleep requirements are constantly changing, especially in the first year. This causes your child to need less naps the older that they get. Which is, in my opinion, easier!
What are the signs??
There are usually some signs that your child is displaying that tell you it's time for a change. This includes:
if your baby has a hard time falling asleep at nap time
they fall asleep but it's a very short nap
nap time is approaching or missed all together and the child is not acting tired/is happy
you're having to shift naps around a lot
the child has a hard time falling asleep at bedtime, pushing bedtime back further
your child is near the age range when a nap is typically dropped
If you are starting to see some of these signs consistently (as in, >3 times per week for 2-3 weeks), then it might be time to transition. As a side note, make sure that the sleep issues are not happening because of a sleep regression, in which case your baby's sleep would be off track temporarily and then get back on track again.
When do babies typically drop a nap?
4 naps down to 3 naps, 4-5 months old
3 naps down to 2 naps, 7-9 months old
2 naps down to 1 nap, 13-18 months old
1 nap down to 0 naps, 3-4 years old.
How to drop a nap?
Before dropping a nap completely, try to widen the wake windows slightly. This may mean having to shorten a nap a little bit, or push bedtime out a little bit. (For example; your 12 month old on 2 naps per day... Nap 1 from 10-1130, Nap 2 from 230-4, bedtime at 730. During this transition, you widen the wake window and shorten naps, making Nap 1 from 1015-1130 and Nap 2 from 245-4, bedtime at 730 or 745. You may do this for a little while before actually dropping down to 1 nap.)
Then, when it is time to drop the nap you'll need to stretch the wake windows even more, so that your baby can make it to the new nap time. To stretch wake windows, you will have to distract your baby. A good way to do this is by playing with a new toy, playing with the dog, giving a bath, or by getting outside; most babies love being outside and it actually works to promote better sleep.
It can take 2-4 weeks to see consistency with the new nap schedule. During that time, you may need to bring bedtime up earlier if naps are a bit rocky initially. Make sure to continue doing your normal naptime/ bedtime routine. And have some patience during this transition. Your child will get the hang of it and if things are still a struggle, I'm here to help!
- Your Sleep BFF,