If you want to learn about your baby’s naps and nap transitions, you’re in the right place! This article covers everything about reducing your baby’s naps - from knowing when it’s time to drop a nap to what to do when your baby resists a nap or even refuses to nap all together.
We understand you may be a bit worried about this transition, but as much as you want them to stay little, your baby is growing up, and as they get older, they need less daytime sleep. But look at this transition as a cause for celebration: less naps means they are learning and developing, which is great news.
Plus, less daytime sleep means more awake time together, which means more playtime, giggles and memories, so it’s a pretty fair trade.
To help you embrace this change, here we’ll answer all your questions about nap transitions, including “When do I reduce my baby’s naps?” “How do I reduce my baby’s naps?” and “Can I survive my baby’s nap transition?”
The answer to that last question is an emphatic “yes”! You’ve totally got this! And to help you along the way, there’s the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ App. We worked with pediatricians, sleep experts, and other parents to create an easy-to-use app that makes sleep training easy, fast, and, best of all, a growth experience for your entire growing family. This is an exciting moment and we want to help you make the most of it, for you and your baby.
As for your other questions on nap transitions, read on to learn all about reducing your baby’s naps safely and effectively.
How Do I Know My Baby’s Ready to Drop a Nap?
While nap transitions can seem stressful, babies actually do a lot of the work themselves, which is very helpful.
For the most part, changes in their sleep needs are largely driven by their age and development, the table below outlines the rough # of naps and wake window by age:
Age Naps Wake Time (How long your baby’s awake between naps) Average Total Sleep
Keep in mind these are averages and estimates. Your baby may be a little bit different. If so, that’s completely normal. And, yes, this may all seem like a lot to remember, but the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ App can help you keep track of it all: simply enter in when they nap and wake to start seeing your baby’s unique sleep patterns.
Meanwhile, as your baby approaches the age where a likely transition is coming, you can look out for the following signs to know if your baby is ready to make the change.
My Baby Can’t Fall Asleep at Nap Time
If your baby’s been super predictable with their naps and then suddenly starts following a less predictable schedule, that’s a strong sign your baby’s ready to drop a nap.
This is more than your baby’s not falling asleep at nap time just once. This means the change is happening over a period of a few days. Your baby will be more awake when they’ve previously been sleepy. This consistent behavior that usually happens around the benchmark ages in the table above and is a clear signal it’s time to consolidate naps.
My Baby Resists a Nap
Another strong sign your baby’s ready to consolidate naps: they’re actively resisting a nap for a few days or they seem more awake at their usual nap time.
Pro tip: This resistance usually revolves around the afternoon nap. If this happens, consider moving bedtime up a bit while you drop that afternoon nap. This will help your baby more easily adjust to their schedule change.
My Baby Won’t Sleep at Bedtime
If your baby has had a set bedtime and routine and then one day they reject it, this may also signal they’re getting too much daytime sleep or that their wake window between their last nap and bedtime is too short.
If you’re experiencing this scenario, and your baby’s old enough, it may be time to make a schedule adjustment.
If you’re not ready to drop a nap, try moving the final nap up an hour or so to keep your baby awake longer before bed. This can help realign your baby’s sleep cycle.
And for those who work outside the home and want to spend quality time with your baby at night, you can also move bedtime back a bit until your child’s nap schedule adjusts.
My Baby’s Not Cranky After Missing a Nap
Babies who miss their naps can sometimes be a little hard to handle. They can be fussy or cranky or otherwise moody - just like an adult who misses out on sleep.
That said, if your baby misses a nap and seems unphased, and that happens more than once, it may mean they’re ready to drop a nap.
Sure, there may be days when an extra sleep is needed, but that’s normal. If you’re struggling with reducing naps or any other part of your baby’s sleep training, download the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ App. Co-developed with pediatricians and other parents, this app understands your baby’s sleep and creates a personalized sleep program that works best for your baby (and you) through every sleep transition and potential set-back.
How Do I Know My Baby Needs a Nap?
You may already know these signs your baby needs a nap, but it’s always worth a reminder.
- Crankiness: If your baby seems crankier than usual or you feel like they've been awake for longer than usual and they are fussy, they’re probably ready for some quiet, restful time. And, likely, so are you.
- Glazed Eyes: Just like overtired adults, your baby who needs a nap may go glassy eyed and stare into the distance. This is another sign they may be ready for a nap.
- Rubbing Their Eyes: It’s adorable – and a signal your tot’s ready for dreamland.
How Many Naps Should My Baby Take?
Your baby’s unique, but there’s a basic pattern in most babies’ nap cycles. (And, seriously, don’t worry if this timeline doesn’t match your experience. Babies sometimes go at their own pace.)
Newborns: 16+ hours in a 24 hour period
Newborns sleep a lot. And we mean a lot a lot; 75% of the day a lot. For that reason, newborns don’t even really need naps. They wake up to eat and/or quick diaper change and get back to sleep because sleep helps them grow and develop.
Pediatrician Dr. Paul M. Berman backs this up, “Babies burn a lot of calories just breathing and growing, so they spend quite a bit of time sleeping to recover their energy.”
When your baby’s a newborn, go with their flow and worry about naps and specific scheduling later. And don’t be concerned if there are days where they seem to never sleep. This is all par for the course at this age and will pass.
Three to Four Months: 5 → 4 Naps
Your baby’s developing a new sleep rhythm around three or four months. Most are probably sleeping five hours a night before waking for a feeding(some may go for as much as 6-8 hours) and taking between 3 and 5 naps a day. Somewhere around that four month mark they should be settling on 4 naps.
Again, every baby’s unique, so if your kid’s a little different, that’s okay. Just watch for crankiness and other signs they need a nap and follow their lead.
Whatever the pace of naps here, it happens fairly naturally and seems to settle into a nice, predictable routine - but don’t get used to that, because even more changes are coming.
It’s at this point, four months, that most babies are ready to sleep train. Just make sure they also weigh 12 pounds - this means they’re growing as they sleep - and consult with your pediatrician before sleep training. Once you’re ready to embark on sleep training, consider downloading the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ App. It’s easy-to-use, science-backed, and creates a unique sleep plan personalized for your baby’s development and your parenting style. Plus, you’ll start seeing results in a week or less - results that will help your baby, and you, for years to come.
Five Months: 4 → 3 Naps
Most babies drop their third nap around the five or six months mark, replacing it with a longer mid-afternoon siesta.
As with other sleep transitions, this process may happen on its own - for example, your baby will protest that fourth nap - but if they’re having trouble shaking that fourth nap and you want to drop it, consider moving up their bedtime a bit.
Now, be prepared: this isn’t always the smoothest transition. Some babies will be cranky as their sleep cycle adjusts, but that will pass. It’s unpleasant, but losing that fourth nap will make bedtime far easier - and sometimes earlier.
Also, now your baby will now be awake for longer periods, which means more activities and memories together. Sure, you have less “down time,” but baby time’s far more fun and rewarding! Those giggles and gurgles and little baby smiles - they’re so great, and now you get to enjoy more of them more often!
Eight Months: 3 → 2 Naps
Good morning indeed!
At around seven months or so your baby’s likely more energetic and alert in the morning, a sign they’re getting better sleep. You may also notice they’re awake longer before their first nap and longer between naps, too. As this happens, typically approaching the 8 month mark, it’s time to drop that third nap.
As with all nap transitions, your baby may be moodier around this time, probably between that afternoon nap and bedtime. If this happens, try moving bedtime up 20-30 minutes for a few days. That will keep their AM wake-up time but limit their bad mood. Or, at least, your exposure to their bad mood, which can be just as good.
After their mood improves, you can push bedtime back to its usual time.
Twelve to Fifteen Months: 2 → 1 Nap
This is a big step - and another that babies often take on their own.
We know this from experience, and Chicago-based pediatrician Dr. Robert Minkus agrees. He told us that most babies drop their afternoon nap or combine their two naps into one longer mid-day nap around 12 or 15 months. “That usually happens by itself; you don’t have to make it happen. In fact, I don’t think you can.”
This may take a few days or even weeks, so follow your baby’s lead. For example, if your baby’s staying up past their morning nap, wait until they seem sleepy before suggesting they lay down. You may also notice that their afternoon nap starts later or does not last as long.
Regardless of your particular scenario, when your baby really resists that second nap, well, that’s that….
As with earlier nap transitions, bedtime should get earlier for a while as your baby adjusts to longer durations of wakefulness.
Reducing naps and managing your baby’s sleep can be overwhelming. If you’re looking for support to help you reduce naps or to generally help you improve your baby’s sleep, check out the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ App. It works to understand you and your baby to create a personalized sleep plan to get your baby’s sleep on track while supporting you the caregiver every step of the way.
When to Nap Transition or Reduce Naps
For quick reference, here’s a simple breakdown of when to reduce naps:
Again, it’s 100% okay if your child deviates from this schedule. Every child is a little individual with their own flow. They’ll find their way - and so will you! There’s a lot of trial and error in parenting, sure, but you’ll get the hang of it. Seriously - you’re doing a great job, hang in there!
For more information on consolidating your baby’s naps and everything else sleep related - we recommend you check out the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ App, created because we want your baby, you, and your entire family to be happier, healthier, and better rested.