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Nap Transitions: Why they can be hard for both baby and mama

Updated: Mar 18, 2023

When your baby was a newborn, did it feel like the slept ALL. THE. TIME. The saying "Eat, Sleep, Poop, Repeat" couldn't be more true during the newborn stage. You didn't have to worry about an exact schedule; they only stay awake for 45 - 60 minutes a time, which sometimes is enough for them to eat, change their diaper and they were back to sleep.

I have to admit, as a mom I LOVE newborn cuddles! We may be done having kids but you can pass me a baby any day of the week and I can sit there and hold them for hours. As my babies grew though, I realized that they were awake for longer stretches during the day, which meant a stricter nap schedule. When my husband and I had our first child, we owned a restaurant in New Jersey. I spent most of my days traveling back and forth between home and the restaurant. Once she started getting into a routine and a schedule around 3/4 months; I was planning my day around when she would sleep in the car, when I could nap her at home and when I could nap her in our office at the restaurant. It seemed like every few weeks her schedule was shifting, so were my days.

I was fortunate, I was staying home with her and we owned our own business so I had the flexibility to switch my day around anytime I pleased. BUT just because I had that flexibility in my work/home balance, I understand that it is HARD for some other parents to switch their work schedule every few weeks and months. A weekly scheduled 9:00am meeting was perfect when your baby was on a 3 nap schedule but now they are shifting to 2 naps so 9:00am they are awake and playing. A stay at home parent, who has more than one kid, can't just switch preschool pick up time to make it work around their baby's nap (Hi, Hello, it me).

Understanding our child's sleep needs and when schedule shifts

happen (roughly, each child is different) can help us as parents plan, even just a little bit. I have added my Master Sleep Chart for you to know when schedule shifts typically happen. So much changes in the first few years with your child's sleep, I want you to be knowledgable on these shifts. It's not black and white when each baby will switch from 4 to 3 to 2 to 1 naps. My 3 older children were on one nap by 11-12 months (early) while my 4th didn't switch to one nap until 15/16 months. Our first instinct when our child is dropping a nap isn't that they are dropping a nap. Usually we think they might be teething or having a growth spurt or hungry, and thats why naps have become hard. I've been in your shoes, four times over!

Okay Danielle, thanks for the story and advice but how do I know when my little one is dropping a nap for sure?

  1. When they refuse their last nap of the day for multiple days in a row (think 5-7).

  2. When they aren't showing their typical sleepy cues before nap time.

  3. Age appropriate windows - not every child will drop to 2 naps at 6 months, some drop to 2 naps ay 9/10 months. Thats OK! Knowing the general timeframe will help.

There is no need to force dropping a nap, or naps altogether (but that will be a different blog post). Following your child's cues as to when they drop to 3, 2, 1 or 0 naps if the best way to handle the transition.

Head over to my Instagram where I share sample sleep schedules for all the ages. Once you're there, click the 'follow' button to keep following me for tips around sleep. If you feel like your little one isn't getting enough sleep and you are ready to go from restless nights to restful nights, click here to book your free sleep assessment and let me empower you to make the transformation you wish to see!

Wishing you restful sleep,

xo Danielle


About Danielle: Danielle is a Certified Pediatric Sleep Coach and founder of The Restful Haus, where she helps families 1:1 with their children ages 0-6 years old. She is a New Jersey native and currently resides in Colorado with her husband and 4 daughters (ranging from 19 months to 7 years old). She enjoys spending time with her family, the Jersey Shore, music, traveling with her husband + kiddos and on the rare occasion, sitting down to read a murder mystery book.

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