When and How to Drop a Nap

To nap or not to nap...

Naptimes are sacred, but at some point, baby will need to reduce the number of naps they take.

I hate surprises and thrive on rhythms and routines. So, when the reality of dropping a nap for my baby was knocking on my door I was slightly despondent in welcoming this new change.

We had been in this sweet spot of three naps a day for a few months and it was rather nice. He napped 7:30-9:00, 10:30-12:00 1:30-3:00, and was sleeping through the night from 6:00pm to 6:00am. Routine, routine, routine.

However, if there is one thing that I have found it is that routines must change as baby grows, and as a mom, I must be adaptable to adopt the new rhythms that work with me and baby.

Right around the time my son was 6 months old, we had family in town for a visit and socializing took precedence over his naps. He didn’t seem to mind that his wake time was substantially increased over those few days.  I remember thinking “I might as well drop that morning nap altogether and just go for it.”

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Bad Idea.

Some things you can cut “cold turkey” as they say, but in my experience “Nap-Dropping” is NOT one of them.

Over the next few days, my son's schedule was all over the place and we were both upset and irritated with the lack of stability in our day-to-day.

I needed help.

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I reached out to a seasoned mother, with a similar schedule to mine. She shared the idea of taking the next week or so and slowly pushing back his nap in 15-30 minute stints until the gap between his first and last nap was where it needed to be. 

Now that seemed doable!

I went back to what his last normal routine had been (with three naps) as my jumping off point. Regardless of him seeing tired or not, I began putting him down 15 minutes later for each nap. Initially I began with only waiting 15 minutes, but after several days I did the last part in larger blocks of 25-30 minutes.

Within two weeks he was happy in his new naptime routine of napping 9:00am-11:00am and 1:30-3:30.

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Perhaps your 5 to 7-month-old is giving you some of the following clues that they are ready to quit a nap:

* Can they stay awake for longer periods of time? 
* Are they not going down as easily for their naps as before? 
* Do they wake up cranky when naptime is over? 
* Are they are waking up far earlier than they used to?

    When the quality of the naps seems to be going down, changing the quantity of the naps can be the answer.

    I hope that you will consider the following and dodge my avoidable mishaps:

    * Don’t try and drop a nap cold turkey
    * Mom, not baby, decides when the nap starts and ends
    * Regardless of seeming tired or not, put baby down 15 minutes later for each nap
    * Stick with it, baby will adapt

      Naptime should be a gentle oasis of quiet and peaceful rest for these little ones, as it is central to the health of the family. Enjoy the journey of watching these little babies grow in stamina and stature as they inevitably require less sleep throughout the day.

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      For even more advice on this topic, you may want to look at "On Becoming Babywise: Book Two...Parenting Your Five to Twelve-Month Old Through the Babyhood Transition"

      Lena Vogelgesang

      Lena Vogelgesang

      Lena likes to define herself by the Seven C’s: Christ, Chris, Children, Comrades, Coffee, Cheese, & Cardio. Due to her love of coffee and cheese, she must also have a relationship with increasing her heart rate. The Lord has given her a wonderful husband in Chris and they have two young boys.

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