Children's schedules change constantly! Just as you think you are on to a winner and have a predictable schedule to your day, they will want to drop a nap. As frustrating as this is, it is all part of the parenting package and can be easily navigated if you know what to expect and when to expect it!
This blog can be used as a guide to nap transition. You child may be ready at a slightly different time to those mentioned by a month or so, but generally speaking the time frames for nap transition below are usually spot on. My advice is to try to stick with this to avoid dropping a nap too early.
Dropping from 4/5 to 3 naps:
At around 4-6 months your child's sleep will become more predictable and you should see those pesky and frustrating cat naps become more irregular. Blow is a sample scheule to aim for at this age to ensure they avoid overtiredness and get enough daytime sleep in:6.30am- wake up
9am- first nap- 1-2 hours
11.30am- second nap- 1-2 hours
3pm- third nap- 1-2 hours
bedtime- between 6.30 and 7pm with at least one if not 2 night feeds to be expected through the night.
You little one should be getting between 4-5 hours of daytime sleep until the 6 month mark. If you are struggling to get this much then use an early night for any lost sleep during the day.
A good thing to do at this age is to anchor your wake up time to help to regulate their circadian rhythms. I normally recommend a wake up time of around 6.30am.
If your child is still having cat naps then you may need to look at ways to extend those naps and gently increase their wakeful windows over a week or so to allow for more sleep pressure to build u before nap times.
This one is usually an easy one to navigate and your child will likely start to resist the same nap every day. This happens between 6-8 months and can be supported by slowly increasing their window and restricting the lunchtime nap if necessary. Issues normally arise if your child refuses their last nap of the day and has a long wake period before bedtime.
A good sign they are ready is that they manage longer naps during the day and have started to resist naps on a regular basis.
I recommend keeping a log of their sleep for a few days and seeing any patterns. You can then adjust to a schedule like the one below (as long as the night time sleep is pretty consistent)
6.30am- wake up
9.30am- first nap- 1.5 hours
1.30pm- second nap- 1.5 hours
6.30-7pm bedtime with one night feed to be expected.
At this age they need 3 hours of daytime sleep. Some children may be able to drop any night feed at this age but this varies from child to child.
This is often the most troublesome with your little one resisting a second nap despite needing it. I often see and increase in night waking's between 12-18 months or early rising and usually the cause of this is overtiredness or the fact they they dropped to one nap a little prematurely. This nap transition is often the ne that takes the longest to settle with a need for flexibility for a few weeks or even months in some cases. The important thing to bear in mind is the overall daytime sleep needs. From 12-24 months your child should still be getting 2.5 hours of daytime sleep. This is a tall ask to do in one stretch so they may need one short morning nap for a while.
I recommend encouraging a short 'top up nap' as a first step when attempting this nap transition. The schedule will look something like this:
8am-top up nap- 30 minutes max
12pm- main nap- 2 hours minimum
It will take a while for you r child to be able to manage longer wake windows. By introducing a short top up nap, you can ensure they have enough energy to last until after lunchtime.
I hope this has been helpful for you. If you would like more support with a nap transition or support with implementing a schedule why not book a call to discuss my range of support options to get you and your family sleeping well with lasting results?
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