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Navigating Nap Transitions

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Nap transitions are a baby milestone during which your child transitions from needing fewer naps per day. During the first few weeks of your newborn’s life, their sleep will be sporadic. However, after the first month or two, your baby’s sleep schedule will settle into a pattern of three to four to six predictable naps per day and periods of sleep at night. However, baby sleep schedules change quickly. You may notice slight adjustments in your baby’s wake windows or napping needs every month or two. These changes may result in a nap transition or a simple adjustment in the number of hours they’re awake or asleep. Using the Baby Daybook Sleep Tracker will help you make sense of your baby’s schedule and prepare you for nap transitions!

Download now!
Do you want to know when it’s time for your baby’s next sleep? Track your baby’s sleep, uncover patterns and trends, and ensure your baby is getting the right amount of sleep with Baby Daybook.

When to Transition Naps

Babies follow a predictable set of sleep standards across the board. Newborns need 16+ hours of sleep and usually only stay awake for 45 minutes to an hour. Whereas a typical one-year-old only needs two naps and can stay awake for three or four at a time. 

The table below shows the average number of naps and hours of sleep your baby needs during year one.

AgeNumber of NapsWake Time (Between Naps)Average Sleep Total
Birth – 1 month5-745 mins16+ hours
2-4 months4-61-2 ½ hours14-16+ hours
5-7 months2-3 2 ½ – 3 ½ hours13-14+ hours
8 – 12 months22 ½ – 4 hours12-14+ hours

Nap transitions tend to follow predictable patterns, but observing your baby for signs of readiness to transition is more helpful. The Baby Daybook app is an excellent tool for recording sleep patterns and developmental milestones that may affect your baby’s sleep!

Recognizing a Nap Transition

Slight sleep changes happen from time to time. Your baby may be ill, teething, or experiencing another significant milestone, such as crawling. These changes can all affect sleep but don’t necessarily indicate your baby is ready for a nap transition. 

However, there are some telltale signs that your little one might be ready to reduce the number of daily naps taken.

Sings Your Baby is Ready to Drop a Nap

  • They resist going down for a nap.
  • They skip the nap and aren’t cranky.
  • They take shorter naps. 
  • They’re waking up early or during the night when they weren’t before. 

Waking up during the night is also a sign of sleep regression or can be caused by illness or other environmental factors. So, if waking up overnight is their only sleep change, investigate other possible causes. 

But if they resist their typical nap time, skip the nap, or consistently take shorter naps, it might be time to transition down to one less nap! Tracking your baby’s sleep with the Baby Daybook Sleep Tracker will help you recognize any changes to your baby’s sleep pattern. 

Tips for Nap Transitions

Nap transitions, like sleep regression, can be stressful. Even though your baby is developmentally ready for one less nap, they might still become cranky as they adjust. Parents also have to adjust because your routine will change, and now you’ll have one less window of time to yourself or to get things accomplished. However, a few tips will help you navigate any nap transition!

How to Start Reducing Your Baby’s Naps

  • Extend your baby’s wake windows.
  • Don’t eliminate the nap cold turkey.
  • Adjust the timing of remaining naps.
  • Follow your baby’s cues.
  • Adjust bedtime. 

A wake window is the time your baby is awake between naps. Once you notice the nap, they no longer seem to need to sleep; try increasing the wake window by 15-30 minutes before putting them down for that nap. 

Tracking a baby's sleep can help you identify changes in their sleep pattern.
Recording baby’s sleep and awake times with Baby Daybook

Just because your baby is resisting a nap or sleeping shorter times doesn’t mean they’re ready to lose that nap cold turkey. By gradually extending the wake windows and adjusting the time of their remaining naps, you’ll help them gradually grow out of needing the extra nap. When adjusting nap times, make sure there isn’t a lengthy nap right before bed. Their later morning or midday nap should be their longest. 

Nap transitions aren’t set in stone, so follow your baby’s cues. If they go three or four days without that extra nap but one day seem sleepy and cranky, set them down for a nap and see what happens! We all have variations in our sleep patterns, and on some days, we can use extra rest. 

If you’re eliminating an afternoon or early evening nap, adjust bedtime so it is a little earlier. Overtired babies have trouble falling and staying asleep, and nighttime is when you want them to sleep the most!

Takeaway

Naps are crucial to your baby’s development. Sleep Foundation states research shows frequent naps allow infants to consolidate specific memories and build cognition, which is essential for learning and brain development. Nap transitions happen gradually over a few weeks or months. Your baby will show signs like resisting naps or taking shorter naps that tell you a transition is imminent. 

Follow your baby’s cues and use the Baby Daybook Sleep Tracker to record your baby’s sleep and wake times to ensure nap transitions go smoothly!

Download now!
Do you want to know when it’s time for your baby’s next sleep? Track your baby’s sleep, uncover patterns and trends, and ensure your baby is getting the right amount of sleep with Baby Daybook.

Sources

Note: Our writers strive to maintain accuracy and quality in all content produced. However, it’s important to note that the information provided on our blog should not be considered professional medical advice, treatment, or diagnosis. It’s highly recommended to consult a qualified healthcare provider for any medical concerns or questions.

Article by
L. Elizabeth Forry
L. Elizabeth Forry is an Early Childhood Educator with fifteen years of classroom teaching experience. She holds a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education, a Bachelor of Arts in English and Theater, and a Bachelor of Arts in Music. She has taught children in Japan, Washington D.C., Chicago, and suburban Maryland. She is trained as a reading therapist, has a TEFL certification, and has done extensive work with children regarding mental health, social-emotional development, and gender development. She has written curricula for children and educators and has led training sessions for parents and educators on various topics on early childhood development. She is the mother of two boys and resides outside Annapolis, Maryland.
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