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Navigating Nap Transitions: A Comprehensive Guide for Parents

Parenthood is a constant cycle of adapting to change, and nowhere is this truer than in the realm of naps! Embrace the cliché – just when you settle into a routine, it's time for a change.

Here's a heads-up on what to expect, so you can navigate the upcoming nap transitions with ease.

Looking for a quick overview? Here's a snapshot of when your baby is likely to transition between naps:

  • Between 6-8 months old, they usually transition to 2 naps.

  • From 13-18 months old, most children move to 1 nap, typically dropping the morning nap for an extended midday nap.

  • Around 2.5-3.5 years old, naps tend to disappear entirely. Toddlers often reduce nap durations gradually before eventually discontinuing them altogether.


Transitioning from 3 to 2 Naps

Around the age of 6-8 months, many parents find themselves contemplating the transition from three to two naps a day. While some babies may show signs of readiness earlier, it's crucial to watch for specific cues indicating the right time for this shift.

Signs Your Baby is Ready:

1. Age: Typically between 6-8 months.

2. Resistance to Third Nap: Your little one may start resisting or fully refusing the third nap.

3. Shortened Second Nap: The second nap may be reduced to around 45 minutes.

4. Bedtime Struggles: If bedtime is becoming challenging, it could be a sign the third nap has to go.

5. Early Wake-ups: Earlier wake-ups may indicate the need for a nap adjustment.

How to Drop the Third Nap:

  • To ease this transition, consider capping the third nap at 15 minutes for a few days.

  • Once dropped, some babies may require this nap every 2-3 days initially.

  • Adjust bedtime by bringing it forward by 30 minutes. If your baby is ready, they should handle a 3.5-hour gap between the lunch nap and bedtime.

Early Drop Concerns: If your baby starts waking shortly after bedtime, reintroduce a short afternoon nap to ensure they get adequate rest.


Transitioning from 2 to 1 Nap

The shift from two naps to one typically occurs between 13 and 18 months, but the timing can vary. Watch for signs indicating your child is ready for a single, consolidated nap.

Signs Your Child is Ready:

1. Lack of Tired Signs: Your child may no longer display signs of tiredness at the usual nap times.

2. Extended Sleep Onset: If they take longer than 20 minutes to fall asleep, it might be time for a change.

3. Shortened Second Nap: The second nap may become shorter or take longer to initiate.

4. Resistance to Bedtime: Refusal of bedtime, early wake-ups, or disturbed nights could be indicators.

5. Restlessness During the Night: Increased restlessness during the second half of the night may signal readiness.

How to Drop the Second Nap:

  • Start by capping the morning nap at 15 minutes for a few days, gradually phasing it out.

  • Adjust the lunch nap by bringing it forward 15-30 minutes.

  • If your child is ready, they should manage a 5-hour awake period before their first nap.

Beware of the 12-Month Regression: Refusal of the morning nap during the 12-month regression doesn't necessarily mean it's time to drop it. Only consider dropping it if refusal persists for seven consecutive days.

Tips for Adjustment:

  • This transition can be challenging due to the significant increase in awake time. Plan engaging morning activities, such as water play or outside play to keep them occupied.

  • If you've adjusted the lunch nap timing, bring bedtime forward accordingly.


Transitioning from 1 nap to none

The final nap transition, from one nap to none, typically occurs between 2.5 and 3.5 years old. Each child will adapt in their own time, so be attentive to their individual needs.

Signs Your Child is Ready:

1. Happy All Day Without a Nap: If your child remains content without a nap, it might be time to consider the transition.

2. Extended Sleep Onset: Taking over 20 minutes to fall asleep at nap time is a sign of readiness.

3. Bedtime Battles: Refusal at bedtime or waking earlier than usual may indicate a need for adjustment.

4. Split Nights: Increased occurrences of waking up during the night may be a sign. As well as your little one staying awake for an extended period.

How to Drop the Nap:

  1. Gradually reduce the nap by 15-30 minutes until you find a suitable length (where Bubs is sleeping well).

  2. Maintain this duration until any sleep struggles start again.

  3. Reduce further until bubs' sleep settles and so on, until they no longer take the nap.

Additional Tips:

- Avoid Abrupt Changes: Dropping the nap all at once rarely works and can lead to more sleep struggles.

- Occasional Short Naps: Even after the transition, your child might have days when a short nap is needed.

- Embrace Early Bedtime: Just like with previous transitions, an earlier bedtime can aid the adjustment process.

Incorporating Quiet Time: When dropping the last nap, introduce a designated quiet time with a set schedule, play area, and special toys to promote relaxation without actual sleep.

By paying attention to your child's cues and implementing these strategies, you can smoothly navigate the challenging nap transitions, ensuring your little ones get the rest they need for optimal growth and development.


Flexibility is key in navigating nap transitions. Each child's sleep is unique, so stay attuned to their cues and be open to flexibility.

Armed with these insights and practical tips, you're well-prepared to manage these transitions smoothly. Here's to restful sleep for your little one and a more straightforward journey through parenthood.

Sleep well!

Holly x


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