When Babies Drop Naps and What to Do About it

February 5, 2014 |  by  |  1 YO, 2 YO, 3-6 Months, 6-9 Months, 9-12 Months, naps
When Babies Drop Naps and What to  Do About it

Just when you start feeling comfortable with your degree of nap mastery things will start getting away from you. (Sadly this basic concept sums up the entire parenting experience…) Naps that had just barely started to settle into a predictable schedule and duration will start getting shorter. Or nonexistent. Or require a huge battle.

The truth is that crap naps, like pimples on picture day, are simply a part of life. If however, your previously champion napper is having consistent nap issues then, depending on how old your baby is, the issue could be that she’s simply getting ready to drop a nap. Diagnosing if your baby is ready to drop a nap and surviving said nap dropping are challenging, primarily because the symptoms are much like every other potential nap issue. But I’ll do my best to help you figure out if, when, and how to survive the inevitable transition of baby dropping naps.

If your child is over 3 days old, you’ve probably already surmised that there are many culprits of non-existent naps including:

  • You went to the grocery store and now the whole day is ruined.
  • A naptime blowout required you to give baby a bath, change the bedding, and now naptime is blown.
  • The paci fell out.
  • Baby is teething (a ever-present condition for approximately the first 2 years of life).
  • The swing batteries died.
  • Baby popped out of swaddle.
  • Separation anxiety.
  • The dog barked.
  • It’s Thursday.

But a bad nap or even a series of bad naps does not necessarily signify that baby is “done” with naps. Although it may. More on that later.

Also, this post is primarily targeting babies 6 months and older. Yes babies younger than 6 months drop naps (see below). However it’s rarely a traumatic event. In fact most parents are in favor of it because it leads to an earlier bedtime. For babies older than 6 months nap droppage is less of a party. I say this in the same way that one might say that a bad case of gout is also less of a party.

Schedule of Nap Dropping

3-6 Months

Newborn babies often take as many as 6-8 naps a day, but by ~3 months of age, your baby should have settled into a 3- or 4- nap a day schedule (and I’m using the term schedule here lightly). Babies generally drop that 4th nap and settle into your basic 3 nap schedule around this period. Usually this is a non-traumatic event. In fact it’s generally a happy occurrence as your baby simply stops easily falling to sleep for nap #4 and bedtime shifts earlier when this happens.

6-12 Months

Somewhere within this 6 month period your child will drop the 3rd nap. Half a year may be a bigger window than is helpful so let’s break it down.

If your baby is taking long chunky naps (1.5+ hours at each nap) then they may be getting sufficient daytime sleep to be done with the 3rd nap as early as 6 months. However for most people, their babies still need the 3rd nap until closer to 9 or even 12 months. So the general rule is: Long nappers drop the 3rd nap earlier. Short nappers will stick with the 3rd nap longer. As your baby gets older the 3rd nap may be a short 10 minutes or even a simple drowse while nursing. Chances are that as your child gets closer to 9-12 months in age, the 3rd nap will not be happening in the crib but will be more of an “on the go” occurrence: napping while being carried, in the car, or in the stroller. Which begs the question, “Am I supposed to be driving my child around every afternoon forever?”

No. You get a brief reprieve until they start kindergarten, at which point you’ll be driving the afternoon shuttle bus (to baseball, swim lessons, dance class, etc.) as a matter of course until they move out.

But there is often a number of weeks where baby needs but won’t easily take a 3rd nap. You can force the issue by taking a leisurely walk in the stroller or choose to skip it. Feel free to skip it if nap #2 is late or long enough that baby can comfortably make it to bedtime. However generally for babies under 9 months, skipping nap #3 leads to “baby awake too long” or “bedtime too early” problems. So on net, a brisk walk about is generally a far better choice for a few weeks.

12-18 Months

Babies drop from 2 naps to 1 nap somewhere between their first birthday and 18 months. Do some babies drop down to 1 nap prior to their first birthday? Yes, but it’s rare. If your under 1 year old is working hard to convince you that they only need 1 nap a day I would remain highly skeptical. There are other far more likely culprits (separation anxiety aka they would rather stay and play with you is the most likely) behind nap struggles you might be having prior to 1.

When your 1.5 year old is ready to drop the morning nap, the afternoon nap might need to be pushed up substantially and bedtime might need to shift up for a while. As your toddler gets into the rhythm of being a “one nap” kid, bedtime may or may not move back to it’s previous time. It’s OK to be a little flexible for a while.

18 Months – 3 Years

99% of kids are napping until at least their 3rd birthday. Sure, lots of 2 year old kids prefer not to take a nap. As they’re expressing their growing desire for independence they’ll fight you on the whole idea of naptime. Who wants to lie down in the middle of the day when there are bubbles to blow and cat food to taste?!? But if your child is under 3 years of age it’s far more likely that, while they may not want to nap, they still need to nap. Remember the cardinal rule of kids: you can’t make them eat, sleep, or poop. But you can make them go to a dark, comfortable, safe, dull place every day at the same time. What they do in there is their business. But it’s your business not to confuse their desire to not nap with not needing to nap.

3 Years – 5 Years

Most kids stop napping entirely somewhere between age 3 – 5. Some lucky parents are weaning their kids off napping just prior to kindergarten. But for most of us, “the age of napping” will end between 3-4 years. Trust me when I tell you that no matter how frustrated you may currently feel with your progress on the nap front, when they finally do fade off into the distance you will remember the halcyon days of naptime with great fondness.

Signs it’s Time to Drop a Nap

How do you know your baby is ready to drop a nap? It is challenging, especially given that there are so many potential causes of bad naps. If you’re within the general time-frame for nap droppage and you’re seeing the following signs, baby might be ready to drop that nap.

  • Afternoon/evening naps are making it hard for baby to easily fall asleep at bedtime.
  • Naptime becomes a battle.
  • Long naps are consistently becoming short naps.
  • The morning nap is fine but baby can’t fall or stay asleep for the afternoon nap.
  • Baby refuses to nap no matter what.

The #1 Cause of Bad Naps
Most babies have short naps or fight napping entirely because they aren’t falling asleep on their own. If you’re wondering why naps are miserable, there is a 98% chance that this is the root cause. Unfortunately a baby who can’t fall asleep on their own will exhibit the same signs as the above mentioned “signs baby is ready to drop a nap.” Ultimately the answer is to figure out a way to get your baby to fall asleep on their own at naptime because you’ve got 3-5 more years of naps to go, so sadly, this isn’t a problem that’s just going to go away. And also it’s going to make it really hard to figure out if your baby is ready to drop a nap or is just having generalized nap problems.

Surviving The Transition Phase

Dropping naps is rarely a binary function – today they take 3 naps, tomorrow 2. Instead there is often a few weeks or even a month-long window where your baby needs a nap but adamantly refuses to take one or a previously long nap is resolutely stuck at 20 minutes. During this phrase it’s a toss up as to who will be more cranky about the whole thing: baby or you. There is no magic potion to make the nap dropping transition phase go more smoothly (if there were I would sell it and be rich as Croesus) but here are some things that may help:

  • Sometimes even a short 10 minute catnap is just enough to take the edge off and make evening/bedtime more pleasant for all involved.
  • Sometimes catnaps complicate matters and even a short car nap will throw off the rest of the day. (Confusing, I know.)
  • When baby drops a nap, the whole sleep schedule (naps + bedtime) might need to be temporarily adjusted earlier.
  • Temporarily shorten the nap that is on the way out, so your child still gets some sleep at that time but not so much as to prevent later naps from happening easily or on schedule.
  • Go outside at the time when your child was previously napping. This will both help distract your fussy toddler and exposure to bright light will help produce “it’s awake time” hormones in your child’s body.
  • Some older kids transition best going from “napping every day” to “napping every other day”.
  • Kids who are moving out of the nap phase entirely may need to have a slightly earlier bedtime.
  • Parents often report that wine is helpful. Binge-watching Season #1 of Scandal might also help.

Your child’s naps were likely hard-won and it will be even harder to see them go. My youngest is now 4 and I still pine for the good old nap days. Like most transitions in life, dropping naps is often a bit rocky. And thankfully, also temporary.

Anybody else struggling with nap stoppage? Have any words of advice for fellow strugglers?


  1. The timing of this post could not be more appropriate for us. I have been wondering for a few weeks now if my 14 month old is transitioning from one to two naps…maybe he’s not and I’m just looking for problems, but another opinion would be super helpful.

    Right now, his schedule is like this:

    7:00/7:15 am wake up
    7:30 breakfast
    9:30/10:00 first nap (2 hours)
    12:00 lunch
    3:00/3:30 second nap (1.5-2 hours)
    6:00 dinner
    8:00/8:15 bed

    We really want to keep a later bed time since my husband and I don’t get home from work until 6 pm most days. If it was any earlier, we’d never see him during the week and that’s just not an option.

    Baby Boy is (now) a fantastic napper and loves his naps. He also goes down for the night pretty easily. However, the reason I think he’s transitioning is that he is taking longer to fall asleep for the second nap and at bed time. He doesn’t fuss or anything, he just kind of rolls around and talks to his lovey for a while–sometimes for up to an hour at bed time.

    Thoughts? If he’s close to dropping that second nap, I’d love some advise on a transitional schedule–I’m clueless.

  2. I need help with the=is as well. My 8 month old is giving us a time with her naps. I know there are a lot of factors going on here (she just got her first two teeth and is still teething as the top two are trying to come through, she is learning how to pull up and walk with support, rolling more and trying to crawl, etc.) but our afternoons are a struggle at this point. Until now she has had 3-4 naps per day (four if two of them were short) and now she will wake up around 8, nap from about 9:30-10:30 and then not want to sleep again until 6:00pm when she crashes for four to five hours and then gets me up from bed at 12 or 1 to nurse! Today I put her down at 10am trying to prolong the morning nap and she didn’t sleep til 11 after crib time, a dirty diaper change, and more crib time. Should I try to keep her up til 11? I am all for going to two longer naps a day but just not sure what times to do naps and bedtime now for her. I am going to do trial and error of course but any tips are much appreciated!

    • This sounds exactly like us. Almost 8 mo, went from 4 naps to 3 just recently. I was in heaven for like two weeks and now KABLAM she’s refusing naps (take your pick which one) and CRASHING at 6:24 every night. She falls asleep on her own every.single.time. so I know it’s not a bad sleep association. She is learning to sit up, crawl, and cruise all at the same time. My theory:. she just can’t shut down. She never misses the first nap of the day, but after that, I think she’s just too active to go down until she’s exhausted. It sucks, but I am hoping it’s just a phase and she will either return to 3 naps a day or 2 soon.

      Good luck.

  3. My about-to-be-6-month-old is currently in the crib hollering at me for the second day in a row of terrible naps, basically refusing to nap since he woke from 30-minute crap nap #3 at 1:40 this afternoon. Since we do the “no more than two hours awake” rule, this is clearly outside of the box of joyous sleep I have been in for some time now. We did bed an hour earlier last night to compensate as best we could, but he woke off and on all night. What to do, what to do… Help!

    • By about 6 months, baby should probably be awake for closer to 2.5 hours at a time. If mine hasn’t had enough awake time, she won’t nap very long and she’ll fight each one. Try to extend waketime and see what happens!

      • I was under the impression that to go longer awake, he needed to sleep longer when he slept…and also to be able to go longer between eating. We are still on 3-hr rotation (I use the EASY schedule, quite happily) so if I lengthen awake time, there is a nap happening right when he’s due to eat again. In a pickle. Example: 930 am eat, awake 2.5 hours, nap at 12…that leaves us 30 minutes from eating, which is not a decent nap at all. Plus this kid doesn’t yet have it in him to go four hours between meals. See my issue? Thoughts??

        • My 6.5 month old definitely can’t go 4 hours either (but with more solids, will be able to soon, I hope!). What I did for a while was feed her right before she went down so her nap wouldn’t be cut short by hunger. It made for a rotating schedule of nursing, but as we’ve both discovered by now, babies grow so fast that they’re always transitioning to a new schedule, and the transition is always awkward! 🙂 So you’d feed him at 9:30, and then 11:45 instead of 12:30. You could wait until 2:45pm to feed again, and that would just be 1 feeding in that awake period.

          But I really think a longer waketime will solve the issue!

        • I’m not sure whether my 7.5 month old is ready to drop the 3rd nap or not. She has been unable to sleep longer than 30 minutes for her second and third naps. For her second nap it might be because she is not swaddled (she is swaddled for the other two naps) as we are trying to stop swaddling OR because she can’t fully put herself back to sleep when she wakes at 30 minutes. Although when she is swaddled she puts herself back to sleep when she wakes at the 30 minute mark?! For her third nap she is swaddled but rarely sleeps longer than 30 minutes.

          She has always fallen asleep for all naps on her own but only for the last 2 weeks have we been putting her down awake at bedtime, as we are trying to stop early AM wakings (she wakes at 5:30am every morning).

          We’ve been fighting the 2nd nap issue for almost two months. Same goes for stopping swaddling (and I was under the impression that stopping swaddling takes a couple weeks at most).

          She still gives tired signs which is why I have continued to put her down for her naps on “schedule” but it just seems like she may not be tired enough for those two separate naps in the afternoon.


    • Have you read this?

      I know you’re happy with E.A.S.Y. but it could definitely be a factor.

      As for how long he’s awake ~2 hours is generally a good target at 6 months, give or take so Janel could be right or you could.

      Is he going to sleep on his own? This could also be an object permanence issue. Thoughts?

  4. He goes to bed at night awake, with his lovies…and a pacifier. Yes. I know. We are going to work on that. I do think he just discovered I can leave, and is not pleased. This morning, I have been up with him since 5:15, as he went down last night at 5:30, and that’s 12…so here we are, awake with the chickens. It is becoming a vicious cycle of bad naps, followed by too-early bed, followed by too-early wake, followed by our naps starting to early in the day (7am) followed by bad naps. To break this cycle, what do I do? Normal bedtime? No morning nap after early wake? I see this all going badly, and after a very happy STTN 4.5-5.5 months with decent naps. Boo.

    • I have been in the same boat for over 5 weeks. I feel like I have tried everything but nothing works as a solution. What happened next with your experience?

  5. So how do you do a 2:3:4 schedule if the naps are craptastic? I’m assuming you really can’t? I wanted to try and follow it with my 8 month old, but his second nap is usually craptastic nap and even if it was an hour (which was rare) he is usually up by 2 and he won’t go to bed at 6 (plus I’m terrified that would end up with a crazy early wake up). Lately his naps have gone down to 20 min (he had usually one hour and a half am nap, a 40 min to hour second nap, and then a 20ish catnap to take the edge off before bed). 9 month sleep regression, pulling himself up, seperation anxiety, he hates me…? I dunno but I’m in the nap underworld at the moment.

  6. I just wanted to say thank you for your amazing website! Every time we are experiencing some kind of new sleep issue you always have clear and simple advice that is actually interesting to read. Thanks!

  7. Hi Alexis,
    I hope you can help me with my 13 month old. She is a perpetual catnapper with the very occasional and blissful 50 minute nap. She also wakes pretty early sometime between 5:30-6am. She puts herself to sleep alone in her crib and she sleeps 10-11 hours (put her in around 6:15pm)through the night. I am grateful for those two things! I read your short nap post, and I think the problem may the sleep time bottle of milk. I feed her the entire bottle and take it with me when I leave. Do you have any recommendations for taking this relaxing nap and bedtime ritual away? She is too young to be attached to the bottle, but she is old enough to know that she wants it before she sleeps (she brings me to the bottles when she knows its nap time). I just feel lost and don’t know where to start! Grateful for any thoughts you have. 🙂

    • So this might to help per se, but my 19 month old was the same type of craptastic cat napper. And then around 14 months we realized that a short nap had become 45 minutes–that used to be his LONGEST nap. Joy! Removing the bottle-sleep association might help–though we didn’t even do that. We did ramp up the nap time routine and made sure he has plenty of time to settle down. Of course now he’s waking up ridiculously early, so we’re trying to figure that out–always a new challenge.

  8. I might be pre-panicking…this could just be a rebellious phase or something, but I’m awfully serious about my kid’s sleep schedule, and I’m scared of the possibility of him dropping his nap. Wanted to see if anybody had any thoughts about current nap shenanigans.

    My kid is 2 (26 months). For at least the past year, he’s had the schedule of 7pm to 6am (give or take 15 minutes in either direction on either end) and a midday nap that usually starts around 12:30 and lasts anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 hours (usually on the longer end). Bedtime is bath, toothbrushing, pjs and lotion, books and usually a lullabye or two. Naptime is literally tossing him in the crib with a kiss. I have loved this schedule, he’s done well with it, and I’m lucky he’s a laid back sleeper. Sometimes he’ll have nighttime wakeups that I think are nightmares, so I’ll go in. Otherwise, once he’s down, he’s down (or he’ll wake up and cry for 30 seconds and fall back asleep).

    In the past 4 days, he’s dropped 3 naps. 2 on the weekend at home, and 1 at daycare. Not sure what he did during the dropped nap time at daycare, but at home, he just layed in his crib and sang…for 1-1 1/2 hours. So he’s happy and relatively chill, I should be ok with that “quiet time,” right? No. Because he needs the nap. Unsurprisingly, he was demon child all 3 evenings he dropped that day’s nap. Or, rather, alternating demon child with space cadet/yawning child. Kid was a freaking disaster.

    I know that some kids drop naps pretty early in life. But it just doesn’t feel like he’s ready to go from 13 hours a day to 11 hours a day of sleep. And there’s not much I could do to give him more time for nighttime sleep…by the time we get home from daycare and fed, we have maybe a half hour “free time” before bedtime routine starts. So I couldn’t really make up the difference there.

    So yeah, I don’t know if this is a sleep strategy problem or just a temporary rebellion on his part. To the extent that it requires some sleep strategy changes, anybody have any suggestions? Later bedtime? Later naptime? Longer (more “bedtime-like”) naptime routine?

  9. We’ve had really good luck with our little guy’s naps until a few weeks ago. Now at about 11 months he’s stopped napping for at least one of the naps. Previously he’d consistently do 1.5 hours in the morning and then in the afternoon, but now he just stays awake and babbles through his second nap. Often he’ll be poopy. We go in and change him, try not to interact at all, and put him back down. Today, for instance, we put him down, he was quiet for about 15 minutes, and then started babbling. We waited about 10 minutes to see if he’d quiet down but nope. Went upstairs and sure enough, poppy diaper. He was quiet again for 10 or 15 minutes and now he’s awake and babbling again. He never gets upset; he just babbles. He’s clearly not ready to drop it completely. The poor little guy’s exhausted by bedtime when he missed his nap. But we’re at a loss about what to do. He’s starting at daycare in a month, as well, and we were hoping to have it sorted but i has been a few weeks now and no progress.

    • Hey Dave,

      You can’t make babies eat, sleep, or poop (or not poop as the case may be). This is either:
      1) A blip. Ignore it and it’ll pass.
      2) A sign that he’s dropping to 1 nap a bit early (the fact that he’s exhausted later does not necessarily disprove this theory)
      3) The timing of naps is off and he needs a bit more time between them (possibly also resulting in a slightly later bedtime) until he DOES drop to 1 nap.

      It’s delightful that he plays happily on his own! All you can really do is shift bedtime up on days he chooses not to nap. If you give him an opportunity to sleep and he’s been awake long enough to actually be able to FALL asleep, you’ve done all you can do. The rest is up to him!

      • Hi! I feel like your advice is right where I am. DD played in her crib for an hour before I gave up and brought her out to skip the nap. My issue is that if I put her down early since she missed it, she’s going down too early and fiendishly waking up at 5:30 a.m. Not sustainable. She is completely capable of falling asleep on her own, and I am so tired of fighting for naps every day. But she’s only 8 mo old. Is she really ready for 2 naps?

  10. Hi! I have an almost 17 month old and we are a few weeks into the 2-1 nap transition. She started really fighting her second nap so we decided it was time. She has always been an early riser – awake around 6 – 630. I keep her up in the morning until noon. She falls asleep very quickly for her nap but is only sleeping for about 1.5 hrs. I know this isn’t terrible but she used to sleep about 2.15 hrs when you combined nap 1+2. I have been giving her an early bedtime of 6:30 to make sure she doesn’t get crazy over tired but I think she needs more sleep – she seems tired in the morning and has started to wake up even earlier. Is there anything I can do to help lengthen this or do I just need to wait it out? Thank you!

    • This is EXACTLY where I am with my almost 15 month old! I would love to hear thoughts on this situation. She is also waking up 30-40 minutes into her naps and crying. She almost always goes back to sleep, but I hate hearing her cry like that. I’ve tried giving Tylenol and it doesn’t help, so I don’t think it’s teething. My suspicion is she may be overtired which is interrupting her nap, but I’m not sure.

      • Sarah and Ellie- we are going through the same thing here with my 15 month old. I am trying hard to stretch him to nap time (which is 11:30am right now) but he only sleeps his usual 1.15 or 1.5 hours and then is ready for bed at 545 or 6pm. On two naps he sleeps for an hour each but then his bedtime is closer to 8pm. We just started this transition and so I’m not sure if the one nap will get longer eventually or if we should just go back to 2 naps and try again in another month or so.

        • Jess,

          I’m having the same exact issues with my 14 month old. We started the transition about 2 weeks ago. I keep her awake until 11:30am, then she will nap for 1.5-2 hours, then bedtime at 6pm. I don’t think she’s getting enough sleep because she wakes up cranky from her nap! Plus she’s been getting up in the morning earlier and earlier. Did your LO’s naps extend after a few more weeks or did you go back to 2 naps?

  11. Pretty sure we’re going through a nap transition here! Suddenly out of the blue, our little guy (recently turned one year old) who was taking two very regular 1.5 hr naps (usually about 9:30 and 2:20-3:00, bedtime is generally about 8-8:30) absolutely refused to take a morning nap! he took one two hour nap about 12:00 today, and was cranky, but seemed generally okay this evening. He was getting super cranky and tried about 6:30 (which is completely understandable), so my question is how much earlier should we put him to bed when he does just take one nap? Just half an hour, whole hour? I know he should be going down earlier, he certainly could use it. but we also don’t want to start waking up at 5:30 because he went to bed too early. Tonight, we kept him up till about 8, which in hindsight was probably a mistake, as mentioned above, he was super tired starting about 6:30, but that seemed way too early for bed. and by 7:30, he seemed okay again, so we waited till 8. any thoughts would be appreciated

  12. Hi. My 8 month old son just started sleeping through the nights at 7 months after following your guidelines. It worked like a charm except for naps. He’s always had trouble napping unless he was nursed to sleep. And even then, I couldn’t lay him down or he’s wake within a minute. Around 4 months old, he started only napping for 45 minutes and it’s gone down and down since then. He currently naps for about 17 minutes. I lay him down awake, he falls asleep, and then wakes up shortly after. I don’t believe he’s ready to drop a nap because he’s a big crank after being awake for 2-2.5 at a time. Should I try to lengthen his awake time and go to 2 naps?
    Sincerely, mommy who is about to start school again and needs to do homework during naps

  13. Can someone tell me what the appropriate amount of awake time is for a child napping once per day and how this may adjust as the child gets older? My daughter is just about 14 months and has been working hard to convince me that she only needs one nap. Most days she only takes one even when we try for two. I have trying to switch to a once a day schedule and it usually looks like this… Wake-up around 6-6:30am, nap around 11:30am, wake-up around 1 (yes I wish this was longer!) and bedtime 6:30pm. Are me awake times too long? And how should I adjust as she gets older? Thanks!!

  14. Alexis!!

    Can you help me. I think my 10.5 month old is trying to drop her nap down to one nap. We used to put her in her crib, fully awake, and she would fuss for about 15 minutes before crashing out. Now, she takes about 45 minutes-1 hour to fall asleep for both of her naps!

    My problem is, she may not be tired enough, but the longer I keep her up in between naps then bedtime gets pushed back later, which we are trying to avoid.

    Here’s our schedule:

    Wake up: 6 a.m.
    In crib: between 9-9:15
    * Doesn’t fall asleep till around 10 and gets really, really upset. Sometimes her leg gets stuck in the crib, I have to go in there and un-stick it, which makes it worse. Sometimes I can smell the poop from outside the door, and have to go in and change a poopy diaper. But usually I am very consistent about not going in there.

    Sleep from 10ish and I wake her up at 11:45 to try to keep her on a schedule. She doesn’t want to wake up.

    In crib for second nap: 2:30
    Doesn’t fall asleep until 3:30-3:45
    I wake her up at 4:45 to protect bedtime.

    Bedtime: in crib at 7:30. Takes her about 30 minutes to fall asleep, but she’s not crying REALLY hard like she is at naps. She fusses a bit, but just kind of rolls around… Not a big deal.

    If I keep stretching her out in between naps then her afternoon nap becomes so late? Is it time to drop her nap? It just feels early.

  15. We have a (almost) 6 month old baby. She is anxious to crawl right now. She was napping about 4 times a day, and was doing a great job. She typically could make it about an hour and forty five minutes of awake time and then needed a nap. We could rock her until she was calm and drowsy and then put her in her crib and she would drift off. Sleeping anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Starting last week, I was putting her down for a nap in the morning as usual and she drifted off. I put her in her crib and she was wide awake kicking. All the patting and shhhhing did nothing,she started to cry. If I picked her up, she’d immediately go back to bed, the second I put her down she was wide awake kicking. This then turns into mommy being frustrated and baby ends up screaming as we’ve tried this asleep/crib thing about 15 times! She will go down for 2 naps a day now which are about an hour and a half long, but is refusing the early morning nap and the late afternoon nap now. It worries me because everything I read online says that they shouldn’t be up for more than 2 hours at this age, however she is pushing about 3 to 4 hours in between naps sometime. She goes to bed around 630 and wakes up at about 6AM with a feeding around 4AM. Is this meaning she only needs 2 naps a day and I need to ignore the online “how to’s” or is this some type of regression, teething, developmental phase?? Has anyone else had this problem?

    • Hi Chantel, I knew this post is old but Im currently exactly where you were!!! same age same problem! If you can read my comment here could you please let me know the update and how can you manage it please? Thanks 🙂

  16. How can I get my 22 month old to sleep past 6 am. .. she used to sleep until 645-7 am. … and nap from 1-230…. naps are similar now and bedtime has always been!!!!!

  17. HELP!!!
    My toddler is 17 months old.
    He is making me crazy at the moment.
    He is an early riser – round 05h30 / 06h00 (06h30 is rare and exciting).
    Up until recently he has been having two naps a day.
    The morning nap from 09h30-10h30. We have been shortening that one cos he could sleep for a few hours then, but if we allow him, the rest of the day is a mess.
    The afternoon nap from 13h30-14h30 – also waking him to avoid night time / bed time battles (which it didn’t actually).
    Every fibre in my body says not to wake a sleeping baby….btw.
    I decided about 2 weeks ago to rather drop the morning nap and to allow him a long midday nap from which he could wake himself, within reason. Max 2 hours. This instead of disturbing his naps not once, but TWICE every day.
    This nap is from 12h30-14h30.
    He is super tired by nap time.
    We can’t take him anywhere before his nap at all for fear of him falling asleep in the pram or car and thereby causing routine chaos.
    We do drive him to the park and back and that works. It’s 3 minutes in the car. Then light lunch and to sleep.
    We have bed time battles. He just isn’t tired at bed time which I try to keep at 20h00 (late, I know). It’s currently 21h00 and the little “monster” is playing. It wasn’t really any better when we were doing two naps.
    The 14h30 nap end time is common to the 2 and 1 nap schedule and is making me question what we are doing….
    He doesn’t want to sleep and then has started doing the dreaded middle of the night waking for 2 or 3 hours recently.
    He still wakes early. Even though he isn’t getting a great night’s sleep.
    Over this last weekend I let him nap when I saw he was tired, and on both Saturday and Sunday he had a dip in energy and fell asleep nicely at 10h30 and slept for 2,5 hours each time. Bedtime was not a nightmare over the weekend and neither did he wake during the night.
    It’s a long stretch to bed time at 19h30/20h00 from 12h30/13h00, but he seemed to handle that. Kind of.
    So, what do I do.
    Seems like the late morning nap is good but is it the way to go?
    I should move bed time earlier, but I know that he’s then going to wake up at 04h00!!
    I am happy to accommodate the baby and juggle and switch it up as his needs dictate, but just wondering if there’s actually a way to transition and get through this time relatively sanely.
    Also, he isn’t walking yet.
    Looking forward to hearing from you.

  18. Hello Alexis,
    I know you say that 2 year olds mostly need to nap. But what if my son, who just turned 2, spends an hour playing in his cot most days without napping? Then on days he does fall asleep, he won’t go to sleep at bedtime?
    Does this sound like he’s ready not to nap?

  19. I’m not sure if my 14 month old is ready to go down to one nap or not. It still seems a bit early. He’s started taking these really long naps in the morning– 2 1/2 hours. Usually he has no trouble falling asleep in the morning so I do think he’s tired and he’ll nap later in the afternoon as well. On occassion he fights morning nap, though. Like right now he’s just groaning/whining in there… So he’s had a few one nap days recently but they are earlier in the day and I worry about him then being awake too long before bed time. I hate these transitional periods. If he’s ready for one nap, I just want him to do it all at once. Any advice?

  20. My just one year old seems to want to drop his morning nap this week. (He’s been awake in his crib for an hour during his usual naptime talking and jumping around but not sleeping.) However, he isn’t napping much longer for his afternoon nap and is actually sleeping less at night. 🙁 Is this just his body trying to get used to the new schedule? I want him to get good sleep and right now it seems like he just wants to be up all the time. (He isn’t walking yet and he is teething but have been giving him Tylenol for that when he seems bothered by it.)

    This was his previous schedule:
    -5:30am wakeup
    -9am nap (45min-1.5 hours)
    -2pm nap (1.5 hours)
    -7 or 7:30 bedtime

    This week:
    -4:45 or 5am wakeup (HEAVEN HELP US!) We leave him in his crib talking to himself until 5:30
    -12:30 or 1pm nap (had been at least 2 hours at first but today was only 1)
    -7 or 7:30 bed

    Seeking advice to make this transition smooth.


    • I wish I could help.. Mt daughter is 13.5 months and has begun fighting her morning naps for past two weeks. I’ve been trying to be consistent and keep putting her down it just isn’t successful. But then her afternoon nap is short and she’s tired and cranky. Have you figured out any tricks yet?

  21. My 13.5 month old has been fighting her morning naps for the past 2 weeks. She was napping consistently 2 good naps, one around 930 second around 230 ans would nap an hour to an hour and a half. Past two weeks she has been fighting the morning nap. Either lays down for 20 minutes while tossing and turning then wakes up crying, or will cry soon as I try to put her in her bed. Because she hasn’t been having a morning nap, she is cranky and miserable and the afternoon nap is short. So then she becomes overtired.. I’m not sure if this is a sign she’s ready for one nap a day…. Suggestions of how to know, or how to go about that??

  22. Hi everyone. I’m really hoping I can get some advice.
    I was hoping to come across something about what to do when babies just stop napping all together lol
    My 8 month old, who was never a good sleeper (still night waking) or napper, has been refusing to nap in her crib for three weeks now. She was napping in there okay before, for 20-40 minutes 3x a day. But now she will only sleep while in the car or if shes not alone. Once she makes contact with her mattress she wakes up and cries. I’ve tried letting her cry it out at naps. She’s cried for over 2 hours every time.
    I understand the separation anxiety thing but what the heck?! She must be exhausted. I sure am! Which then in turn makes her a crab cake for the rest of the day.
    Looking for any kind of suggestions or advice, as I’m willing to try anything here.
    I just love how this site has so many people with different experiences and all the supports. Thank you all in advance! Until then, I’ll continue searching like a mad woman for some kind of solution.

  23. Hi. I really need some advice about my toddlers naps please! He’s 2 years 8 months and has always been a good sleeper bar a few bumps along the way (I know how lucky I am!!). He’s still having an afternoon nap and it’s a long one – sometimes up to 3 hours. So generally 1 til 4. He then goes down at 7 ish (quite often comes back out at half past at the mo and has to be put back down) but is waking at 5.30 ish. He’s always had phases of early waking that go away but I’m wondering if the nap is the issue. I tried for a few days to cut the nap down but he’s super grumpy and still wakes early. Without a big sleep he’s really grumpy! But would that pass if I continued to cut the nap to say an hour and he gradually got used to it?? Or is the early waking another phase and it will pass and I should let him sleep as he wants?? He doesn’t struggle to fall asleep for his nap and happily goes down most of the time. Any thoughts??!! Thank you.

  24. Heellllpppp

    My 16 month old is, I suspect, leaving two naps in the dust. Except – she’s now not napping at.all.

    We bumped her 1:30 nap up and today I started trying at 12:15 after we ate. We did CIO as a baby and she has been blissfully putting herself to sleep since.

    Now, she arches her back and loses her shit when I put her down for sleep. She pulls up and stands in the crib crying until I go in to settle her. I played the game for over an hour yesterday and she finally fell asleep in my arms (whoops) and then slept in the crib for – 45 stinkin minutes.

    I’m just at wits end. I don’t know what to do. She refuses am nap and so we decided to try one nap but now she’s resisting that too She’s exhausted – I even saw her start to fall asleep standing up while protesting me putting her down.

    Helphelphelpppppp what’s going on!?!

    • Well it could be a lot of things. It’s a touch early but lots of kiddos have a huge 18 month sleep regression around that time (YAAAY! said no parent ever). It could be nap droppage. It could be she’s working on a new skill (such as walking).

      Most kids are down to 1 nap by 18 months so let’s assume it’s time for 1. She may be OVER tired by 1:30 or even 12:15 so I would start by finding a time maybe midway between her old nap #1 and nap #2.

      I would use your words – she understands you! Honey it’s time for rest. If you can’t fall asleep you can sing, play with stuffed animals, etc. If you scream I will hear you (I’m nearby and I love you) but I won’t come get you. Because your body needs to rest so you can grow strong and healthy! I love you and I’ll see you when rest time is over.

      Going in to settle her is lovely but I worry that it’s leading you down the path of encouraging her non-sleeping (the less she sleeps the more time she gets to hang with you)?

      • God bless you for your response!

        We are doing this at the moment. Her deal is she likes to stand up in the crib (in protest?) while I wait her out.

        What do you think on time – how long should I let her work it out in there in her own? An hour? The funny thing is she’s not crying – she’s just standing in the crib and occasionally squawking (though, sometimes she cries).

        Trying to remember it’s all shifting all the time, right?
        She went down at 6:30p last night and slept until 8:25am this morning! Girlfriend is tired!!

  25. Hi Alexis, Thanks so much for all of this guidance. I have a very similar situation as Erin in the last post, even the stopping herself from falling asleep while standing 🙂 I have 15 month old who was fighting her afternoon nap and is preparing for a toddler room transition at daycare as well. So she was definitely ready for the one nap from all of the afternoon nap refusal that was going on. She’s always been an early riser – but had been doing pretty well, mostly around 6 am. She’s been on one nap at daycare for the last four weeks and is maxing out at 90 minutes, but feel like she’ll hopefully go longer once in the toddler room. At home on the weekends though, she’s barely getting an hour and when she wakes up from the nap simply will NOT go back to sleep. I let her soothe herself to sleep starting around 12 or 12:10 – sometimes its quick and sometimes it takes about 25 minutes but she eventually falls asleep. She just won’t stay asleep – waking up around the 30 minute or hour mark. Other tricky piece is that she’s just up so early, she’s not getting enough overall sleep (in bed by 6:30 but up at 5:30) so I know she needs it.

    Do you have guidance for how I should respond when she wakes up? Today she woke up after 30 minutes – I went in and put her back down telling her it wasn’t time to get up yet and checked in 10 minutes later to do the same b/c she was crying. Then she stopped crying so I left her, but she just sat here with her blanket for an hour and 10 minutes. If I keep doing that will she eventually learn to go back to sleep during this time period? Even sleep crutches like rocking, etc. weren’t working so I’m worried she’s just destined to be a disaster 🙂

    Thanks for any and all support!

  26. My 21-month-old is wildly inconsistent with her sleep. Naps are my big issue. I finally have gotten her to fall asleep by herself for naptime, which is a huge victory for us. 🙂 However, about 90% of the time, she wakes up after a half hour. On a lucky day, she goes back to sleep. At least 60% of the time, she’s standing up in her crib crying and won’t stop until I get her. I can usually get her back asleep but can’t get her back in the crib. Her bedtime is 7:45 and she wakes up anywhere from 5 a.m. to 6:15 (on a really good but oh-so-rare day). She goes to sleep by herself at night as well. Naptime is around 1, 1:30 if she slept in until 6ish. Is naptime too late? Think she’s waking up b/c she’s overtired? She eats lunch at 11:45 and is a sloooow eater so she’s not usually done until 12:45.

  27. My 14 month old won’t take naps at all since Christmas vacation. She will fall asleep on me but won’t do any crib napping or car napping or stroller napping. She wakes up at 8 am. And I try to put her to bed at 11:30 every day. She goes to bed at night fine now after a month of hell with that too. After a half hour if her screaming and my coming in to tell her to go to sleep several times I go in and just make her play quietly in a pack in play set up in the living room for an hour so I can get some stuff done. She has really bad separation axiety. And she screams the entire time I leave her at the nursery.

    Her night bedtime I have moved to 6:30 although she generally doesn’t fall asleep til 7:30.

    I am pulling my hair out. I hate she screams every day but don’t know what I should do about it.

  28. Help please! I’ve just posted this question on a different article but this suits better! Sorry for the doubling up but I’m desperate for advice … I’m pretty sure my seven month old is dropping her third nap. This week her daytime naps have lengthened to 1.5-2 hours at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

    I’ve been trying to get her to nap in the buggy as per your advice, but she is resisting it now (despite a half hour walk yesterday at 4.15pm she was still wide awake). Plus this is dinner time in our family. The problem is that she can’t manage the 4 hour gap between the end of her afternoon nap (2.45) and bedtime (6.30-7pm). She goes down at 7 but wakes after 45 minutes and then cries until 9.30. She’s done this all week. We give her the dummy, cuddles, rock her, feed her, leave her alone (big mistake – she screamed herself hoarse) – nothing helps. It’s like going back to the glory days of colic. Should I give her a nap at 5, and put her down later? Or just put up with it until she matures enough to cope with being awake for four hours (Which I know could be a couple of months!) Please help – I am dreading the evenings now!
    (Oh and I can’t really change the times of her naps much as I have to do the school run at 9 and 3)

    • Hello, my wee tot dropped his third nap around the same time yours seems to be. We finally settled for a 2-3-3 to 3.5 schedule for a few months. (2 hours awake then nap, 3 hours awake then second nap, and finally 3 to 3.5 hours awake then night night) Only recently at 10 months old is he able to stay up closer to 4 hours at the end of the day. We moved his bed time up a bit when he dropped his third nap and it worked like a charm. Is your babe sleeping through the night or only waking up once or so a night? That can help to make up for the lost nap time during the day.

      • Hi Rose, thanks for your reply. Our sleep issues have been complicated recently by a series of coughs/colds which keep waking our baby up. She usually sleeps very well at night, waking maybe twice and settling back with a dummy. I was feeding her once as well until thisw eek when breastfeeding failed (another story) Anyway it’s worked best to persevere with three naps, third in the buggy, but I think she probably is ready for two longer ones. Problem is, I tried it earlier this week and she did the same thing, waking after an hour and screaming. She wakes our older two sons (our five year old is so tired at the moment), and she has also stated waking at 6.30 every morning (I can only assume that something is waking her, her timing is so consistent). When she wakes an hour into bedtime it’s as if she thinks it’s her third nap. If I persevered would she get the idea? I don’t like her being so distressed…

  29. My daughter is 3 years old and she used to sleep through the night and only had a wake up every once in awhile. She used to take an hour and a half nap during the day and sleep from 9:30pm – 7:00am. The past couple of months she has been waking up between 12:30-2am and coming to our room. We tell her to go back to bed, anywhere from one to four times at night. She waits like ten minutes and comes back to our bed. She has learned how to get out of her room and has been visiting our room in the night along with no mid-day nap. Now that her mid-day nap is gone she has a bedtime of 8pm and goes to bed really easily. The biggest problem I have with this is she wakes up sometimes at 5am after waking in the middle of the night. She is getting less than 9 hours of sleep total. Do you think this is due to her no day nap now or possible something else?

  30. What do you do when a 21 month old refuses to take naps? He started about a month ago. As far as I know he’s fine at daycare. They lay down at 12:30. When I try putting him in the crib at 12:30 he just cries, for an hour. I’ve tried later too, but he just cries then too.

    I’ve tried laying on the floor next to him, sometimes it helps but it takes 15+ minutes. Minutes I no longer have since I have a newborn. Any thoughts on what to do?

  31. Dear Alexis,

    I have a problem nobody seems to mention and I don’t know how to fix. My baby wakes up several times during the night and falls asleep again on her own a minute or 5 later. Which is great but it happens EVERY night SEVERAL times. I hear each of these awakenings and often can’t fall asleep afterwards whilst she is peacefully snoozing away. Up until 4 months when I fed her at night I never heard from her until 4-4:40 am. After I stopped feeding her at night (by just giving her a dummy) there was more or less a month of her sleeping through and also not waking at night and surely never waking up shortly after the bedtime. However since she turned 5 months, we weaned her off the sleepyhead, moved her to the big cot, she learned to roll very well and now crawl she wakes up cries for a minute or two reshuffles, gets on all 4, falls again on her tummy, sucks her thumb and falls asleep. But WHY does she wake up???? She is now 6.5 months. She has also dropped the 3rd nap now and gets really really tired in the evening, so I am assuming it doesn’t help. Ive tired everything to make her have a catnap at least but no luck – she used to easily have a little snooze in the pram. Anyhow, if you know why these awakenings could be happening PLEASE let me know or maybe write a post about it? Resettling herself is not a problem, associations are not a problem, hunger not a problem, WHAT IS??

    P.S. Love your website!!

    • Hi! Just wanted to let you know that I was experiencing the same thing with my baby for awhile! it was so strange, he would cry in his sleep for a few minutes, sometimes up to 20 min or so but settle back to sleep. I noticed this seemed to happen more when he was overtired at bedtime. maybe try putting her bedtime a little earlier for a few days to see if it makes a difference? especially since she dropped her 3rd nap now and is very tired u mentioned.

  32. I am in a struggle with my daughter’s school over this topic. She’s 4.5 and in a private pre-k. She is sleeping from 1 to 2 hours a day which is killing us at night.
    I’ve had multiple discussions with the staff and they refuse to bend on this policy. When my oldest was there, they stated to transition them at 4 to quiet time. Now that has gone out the window. We thought of providing something from our pediatrician to get around it. Would this work?

  33. When they drop down to one nap, does it sometimes take awhile before they lengthen that nap? My 1yo is dropping down to one nap and is still napping 1hr 15-30 mins (previously was taking two 1hr10min naps). That seems short compared to what I remember my older daughter doing.

    • I have the same question, only my daughter (13 months) has gone from taking 2 naps with at least one of them being 1hr+ to one nap that is less than an hour. CUE TOTAL RAGE.

      I’m assuming she needs one nap because if I put her down any earlier it takes 40+ min for her to fall asleep, and if she sleeps past 10:30am I can’t get her to take a 2nd nap.

  34. I’m wondering if my 9.5month girl is telling me she only wants 1 nap. First off let me say she has been the best night time sleeper and went to 2 naps about 5-6 months. Babys schedule before refusing naps or pushing naps so far back they mess with bed time was: 630-7 wake up, Nap one hour after waking up for an hour, 4 hours later take nap two for an hour then bed time 4 hours later at 6. Last month 1st nap is more like 2-3 hours after she wakes up for an hour and 30 mins. then just plays in bed for nap two. Her bed time has been closer to 7 now cuz of her shifting naps. Thing is if we keep letting her shift late naps she keeps shifting her whole day. She ALWAYS sleeps 12-13 hours no matter what. At one point she had shifted her bed/wake up time got to 8-8:30. IS MY BABY SAYING ONE NAP PLEASE? Or am I missing something?

  35. My 3.5YO stopped napping a few months ago, much to everyone’s dismay. Now, instead of sleeping, he turns into a shrieking, miserable and emotionally volatile monster at about 12:30 every day. Yet he WILL NOT fall asleep during the day, no matter how many sleep cues we lay on, no matter how loud the white noise is or how dark the room. He’s going to bed at 7 on the nose and sleeps until 5:45 or 6 (yuck). I’m at a loss. Any ideas, anyone?

  36. My baby is four and a half month old and is fighting the 3rd nap since she was about 3 months. The “problem” is she has chunky naps, and often she wakes up from the second between 3 and 4 pm. Then she can hardly hold on until 6 when we have bedtime routine including bath and feeding, and she’s asleep by 7. When she wakes up in the middle of the night for night feeding we are fine, but lately she’s started to sleep through, meaning she’s awake at five because she’s not sleepy any more! On that day I can fit in three naps, but on the next day she wakes up later again, meaning she has only two naps again, waking up at five am again. And repeat.
    I’m not sure what to do about it.
    I’ve tried to make her have a catnap, but she’s just not falling asleep for another nap if the previous nap ended between 3 and 4.

    • Good morning! When she wakes up at 5am, if you feed her, will she go back to sleep for a little bit longer? A “snooze button feed” could help a lot. When you try to have her catnap, are you using the swing/stroller/babywearing? Any of those might make it easier for her to fall asleep for the catnap. Good luck!

      • Hi,
        Thanks for replying 🙂 at five am I feed her. Previously she went back to sleep after that, but this was when her bedtime was later and/or she woke up earlier at night too. But now she just stays awake for 1.5 hrs.
        As for the naps, I always feed her and wait for her to get as sleepy so that she closes her eyes, then I put her in the swing. But when I try get a late-ish third nap, she’s nursing, but she stays alert. I haven’t tried to put her in the swing after that. I’ve always felt it would not help if she just not dozing off… As for the stroller, she’s one of those who does not sleep in the buggy…

  37. Good morning! I was wondering if anyone had some insight- I have a 13 month old who naps twice a day. For a week or two now, he’s been waking up at 4am, not crying, just wakes up and babbles, plays with his lovey. This is how he usually wakes up when he starts the day at 730am. I usually wait 15min to see if he will fall back asleep, and he doesn’t, so I go in and give him a snooze feed bottle. After the bottle, I put him back in crib and leave, and he takes about another 15-20 min to fall back asleep. So he’s been up a total of about an hour at this point! He’s been sleeping in later because of this middle of the night waking. Is this a sign of dropping to one nap? Any advice/insight appreciated!

  38. Hello,

    I have been having an issue transitioning my 22 month old son to 1 nap and would love some advice!! Here’s the background – my son WAS actually a decent napper up until about a month ago. Took 2 naps (9am and 2pm lasting from 1 hr 15 to 2 hrs each) for awhile. About a month ago he started sleeping for the first nap and then boycotted the second nap. This went on a couple days then both naps were being boycotted. Separation anxiety was at an all time high as well. It was a mess. We tried moving the AM nap by putting him down at 10, 11, 12, 1 – nothing worked. We finally got 10:30 to work once (1 hr nap) and we stuck with that. Our pediatrician suggested doing that for a few days to a week then pushing it back by 30 min – 1 hr until we get to a more normal after lunch nap. He was good with 10:30 (taking an hour maybe an hour and a half nap). We tried moving to 11 (he slept 45 min – hour). Since he was doing kind of ok (at least he was napping) and I have a preschooler as well that needs to be picked up from school I tried moving him to 12:45 yesterday it worked (not great took a 45 min nap but then passed out on my lap after he got up for an additional 20-30 min), but then today he screamed like crazy used the Ferber progressive waiting with no luck ended in no crib nap, but I brought him downstairs and he passed out immediately in my arms for 45 min.

    Any thoughts on what to do next!?! He seems too overtired to settle at 12:30/1:00, but an hour nap at 11:00 doesnt hold him well to the end of the day not to mention how tricky it is with my older sons school schedule. Should we try going back to 2 naps and see what happens? Do we keep trying a 12:30 / 1:00 nap and eventually it could work? im totally lost!! My first son we just dropped the AM nap and he slept in the afternoon – took him a bit to start taking long naps but at least he napped.

    Any advice and help you can provide would be so much appreciated!!

    Thank you,

    • How did this work out for you? My 19 month old is ready for 1 nap, as she falls asleep easily in the morning and totally struggles in the afternoon, sometimes not managing a second at all until really late then can’t sleep come bedtime! The worst thing is from waking consistently at 6:30ish she now wakes 5:15-45 which I think is because she’s overtired. Because she is waking so early she can’t make it to a 12:00 nap, and if we go anywhere more than 5 minutes away in the car will fall asleep in the morning, then won’t take the second nap even if the morning one is a ten minute catnap! If I could just get her to wake 6:30 I could get her to 12 and cope with one nap. A month ago she did this most days until she hit a growth / development spurt and was exhausted each day by 10:30 again) But we’re in a cycle of overtired waking too early then napping too early. Did you end up just waiting for the after lunchtime nap to be good enough and soldiering through? 2 naps just isn’t working as a general rule, we can’t keep trying it (although so convenient for driving somewhere for the day to do it on the way out and back, much less so when she doesn’t do the way back nap!!!) Did this get better? I’m 29 weeks pregnant and so tired at the mo. Ps I can’t make bedtime earlier than the 6:30 – 6:45 it already is most days!

  39. Hi! I think we are in the middle of the 2-1 nap dropping/transition with our 16 month old. And it sucks! We have been trying to extend the morning wake time to about 4 hours, only get an hour nap if we are lucky, and then a catnap in the swing between 3 and 4pm (swing bc he’s still small enough to fit and bc he won’t nap in crib for the afternoon nap anymore). Bedtime around 7pm, it’s been pushed up from 730pm since the napping has been a mess. He has been waking up early, around 530/545am and not going back to sleep. So then we get stuck with an early morning nap bc of the early wakeup instead of moving to a late morning/early afternoon nap. Should we continue the catnap in the afternoon and 7pm bedtime (or earlier bedtime)? Skip catnap and push bedtime even earlier? Ahhh these transitional phases suck!

    Also, he used to wake up in the morning and from his naps and play happily in his crib for at least 20minutes before fussing to be out. Ever since he started walking, he wakes up and IMMEDIATELY starts crying, he doesn’t play in the crib at all anymore. Does that sound typical?

    • Hi! So yesterday he woke up at 630am (usual wakeup), napped from 1030am-1130am, skipped afternoon nap. He went to sleep at 645pm (it was the earliest we could do, we get home from work at 5pm). He woke up at 1130pm, which was so strange bc he hasn’t had a night waking in months, even on days when he has skipped naps or had short naps. And then he woke up early at 530am. I am sooo doubting myself now. I have no idea what we are doing- did we misread him, is he not ready to drop to one nap? Did we put him down too early or late last night? When he wakes up early, I give him a cup of milk and put him back in the crib and leave, and then he screams/cries until I get him out at 630am (trying to keep that consistent) which is a horrible start to the day. I’d would greatly appreciate any insight/advice/tips- just wait it out? Go cold turkey with one nap? go back to 2 naps somehow? Should I be doing something differently when he wakes early? TIA!!

      • Hi, I’m not sure if you figured this out by now, but I kind of feel like we are in the same both. any advice would be greatly appreciated. Some people have found that they are not ready for the 1 nap transition and go back to 2 and try again in a month or 2.

        • Hi! So we kind of just winged it the last 2 months. If he woke up later in the morning and took a long chunky nap, then it was a 1 nap day. if he woke up too early in the morning, or took too short of a nap, we’d offer 2 naps. I also realized putting him to sleep early was sort of backfiring on me on the days that he took 2 naps- so I started sticking to a 730pm bedtime esp on 2 nap days. We had one week of great weather last month and I pushed him to a 5 hour wake time by having him play outside and that helped! he’s still been waking up early, but most mornings i can give him a snooze feed and he will fuss back to sleep (it can take up to an hour tho). We are finally on a 1 nap schedule and he usually naps 1.5-2 hours, but still working on an ideal nap time at 12/1230. The past few days he didn’t wake up early which was awesome!
          Playing outside in the morning helped a LOT because it pushed him to stretch his wake time, if we were stuck inside all morning, it was hard to stretch his wake time. And playing outside tired him out a lot so he easily went down for a nap. Good luck!!

  40. I can relate to the last few posters. My 14-month-old has been struggling with the transition from 2 naps to one for probably the last 3 weeks or so. She was on a really consistent schedule for MONTHS- I mean probably a good 6 months or more (which I know is insanely lucky for me) where she would wake around 7am, nap 10-12, then nap again 3-4 or 5, then bed at 7pm.

    She has always been super reliable about the morning nap but a few weeks ago started steadfastly refusing the afternoon nap. She kind of alternated 1 and 2 naps every other day or so but now she just fusses for an hour or longer if we try to put her down for a second nap.

    The problem is, she gets over tired by bedtime and then her night sleep suffers- most often the symptom is 5 or 5:30 am wakeups.

    When I try to shift her morning nap later to compensate, sometimes it works (several days she napped from 11am-2pm!!!!! praise jah!) but more often it backfires and she wakes at her old wake time of noon. which just reduces her total nap time.

    SO what I’m trying for now is, waiting until she shows definite signs of tiredness in the morning before I put her down- it occasionally still happens at 10 but usually we at least make it to 10:30. she sleeps usually until at least 12:30 but on good days makes it past 1. I’ve stopped offering the afternoon nap unless she’s acting ABSOLUTELY tired, and on days when it’s possible, and if she’s also acting tired (which she usually is by 5 pm lol) we put her down at 6 instead of 7. On good days she will actually sleep straight through until 7 or 7:30 the next morning.

    I just hope this 6pm bedtime isn’t going to need to persist because it’s just sooooo early! sometimes it’s just not possible.

  41. Thank you for this post! And thank you to the people who left comments. I found this post so insightful and appropriate for my current situation. I am a first time mom, my daughter is almost 5 months old. I won’t get into the details of her naps, I just want to make the general comment that, after reading the author’s advice and the posts from others that, I am reassured about napping and other challenges parenthood bring.


  1. Big Kid Sleep Stumbles - EP 18 - Precious Little Sleep

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