Baby Sleep Transitions: When to Drop a Nap

3 common signs to knowing when your baby is ready to drop his late afternoon nap

Baby sleep transitions can be tricky, especially since they always seem to happen right when you begin figuring out the previous phase. So how do you know when to drop a nap?

It should come as no surprise that young children need daytime rest. For the Babywise mom, nap time procedure is fairly simple: when nap time comes, Baby goes down. Not much will change over the next 12 months.

At five months of age, the average PDF (Parent-Directed Feeding) baby takes two 1½ to 2-hour naps and an additional catnap in the late afternoon. Between six and eight months of age, his sleep needs to decrease as his waketime increases.

This is especially noticeable in babies who sleep 10 to 12 hours at night. The sleep center in a baby’s brain begins to send a wake-up signal if there is too much sleep in a 24-hour period. That is when you know your baby is ready to drop his afternoon nap.


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3 common signs to knowing when your baby is ready to drop his late afternoon nap:

1. Your baby begins waking in the middle of the night.

2. Your baby is waking very early in the morning.

3. Your baby is routinely waking early during one or both daytime naps, possibly sleeping only 45 minutes.

Be cautious, however, the signs above are not exclusively associated with nap transitions. Other factors may mirror those symptoms, including hunger, sickness, and possibly teething.

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If you cannot readily discern why your baby is waking early, try gently patting his back for a few moments, reassuring him that you are present, or picking him up and cuddling him while whispering softly to him. Hearing Mom or Dad’s calming voice during a time of stress is very reassuring. After he is calm, gently return him to the crib.

If he continues to fuss, maybe nap time is over for today. If this is the option you choose, simply readjust his schedule for the rest of the day and monitor tomorrow’s sleep times.

Your baby will continue with two naps a day until the next sleep transition: when he drops the morning nap, which usually occurs between 15-24 months of age. We discuss this particular nap transition in the next book of this series, On Becoming Pretoddlerwise: Parenting Your 12-18 Month Old.

For more help getting your Baby on a Babywise sleep schedule, you can read more articles on Baby Sleep here on


Excerpted with permission from On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo, M.A. and Robert Bucknam, M.D., copyright Parent-Wise Solutions, Inc. You can learn more and purchase the book here.

Do you have a question about baby sleep transitions or when to drop a nap? Leave a comment below or check out these additional nap time articles:

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