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Is your baby ready to drop a nap?



So you’ve FINALLY fallen into a good rhythm with your child’s sleep patterns, but THEN….everything changes and you’re back to square one with nap resistance and nighttime battles.


WHAT HAPPENED???


Well, it could be a few things. Could it be a regression? Yeah, maybe (read more here). Could it be teething? Yeah, maybe (read more here). Could it be time to adjust those wake windows? Ohhhhh, getting warmer!! If we adjust the wake windows, would that mean it is time to drop a nap? DING DING! Yes, probably! 


A lil’ About Wake Windows


As you know by now, wake windows are your baby’s awake stamina that they have between sleeps. This will grow with your baby. Below is a chart that will help guide you if you are a new parent, new to wake windows, or need to do a quick refresher check. You can also read more about wake windows here.


As your baby grows and their stamina increases you will find that a byproduct of lengthening their wake windows is that you will suddenly find yourself not being able to fit in all their naps! The solution? Drop a nap!



When do babies typically drop naps?


This chart above will also help you understand when babies typically drop naps. Every baby is different and I have seen younger babies who sleep really well over night drop naps much earlier than older babies and older babies who simply need more daytime sleep. For babies who are dropping to 1 or 2 naps and are 6 months and older, I recommend a set schedule - you can read more about that here.


Signs it may be time to drop a nap


There are really two or three things I look at when considering whether it is time to drop a nap. I should mention here that this is assuming your baby is sleeping well and can fall asleep on their own. If  that is not the case for your child at the moment, not to worry! Click here for a free eval call.


Your well sleeping baby is now:


  • Having nap refusal and/or taking 20+ minutes to fall asleep. They aren’t tired enough yet because their wake time stamina has grown!

  • Your baby is suddenly having short naps (shorter than 40 minutes). This is because they have not built up the sleep pressure they need to sustain sleep for at least a full sleep cycle

  • You haven’t changed anything and this has been going on for about 2 weeks so you can rule out regressions.



What to expect and Tips for Success


Regardless of your child’s age and the number of naps they are taking, the process of dropping a nap involves stretching out a wake window and increasing wake stamina. This takes time and is a process. It can take anywhere between 2-6 weeks to fully make the transition.


While this may change some of your child’s sleep woes, any transition will often have a side of temporary sleep challenges (such as more night time wakings, shorter/inconsistent naps, grumpiness) but these are temporary as your child adjusts to the new sleep changes.


When dropping a nap, the cause is usually being a bit overtired as they adjust to the new wake window requirements. I see this more in older babies who’s wake windows increase quite a bit. 


My biggest piece of advice to help you get through the transition is not to go on drives/stroller walks late in the wake window when your baby is already tired and can fall asleep easily off schedule and not in their crib. Try to time your outings early in the wake window as your child transitions. 


AND, never forget the power of distraction! Hold them to their new wake window by singing and playing with your child, offering many toys and activities to keep them going and engaged so they don’t nod off. 


Finally, when you decide to drop our child’s nap, don’t look back. Commit to the decision you have made and don’t go back and forth. This will just cause confusion for your child and disrupt the development of sleep rhythm.


Conclusion


It can be a tricky business typing to figure out what is just right for your kid. And things can change so fast especially in the early months.! I hope these tips and recommendations have helped you! If you are still stuck, send me an email (susan@susanssleepsolutions.com) or schedule a strategy call!



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