When Do Babies Drop Third Nap And What Does It Mean?

eA baby’s sleep schedule is packed with sleeping, sleeping, and more sleeping. As a sleep-deprived adult, you have to envy them. They sleep all night, occasionally waking up now and then, and take many naps a day. However, with time, a baby may end up dropping naps. Usually, a baby under six months takes around three naps a day, and the length of those naps can vary.

But during the 6-12 month phase, the baby may stop dropping their third nap. Instead of three naps, they may have two naps. You may notice this when the baby’s naps shorten, or they struggle on one of their naps. When that happens, it’s time to eliminate the third nap. So, the question remains, when do babies drop the third nap?

Source: flickr.com

Signs Your Baby Is About To Drop Their Third Nap 

When do babies drop the third nap? Many signs signify that your baby is ready to transition from three naps to two. Here are a few of them. 

  • Their Age

As mentioned, a baby drops their third nap between 6-12 months, with nine months being on average. 

  • The Frequency Of Naps 

If you’re noticing the naps growing shorter, or if the baby takes longer to fall asleep and ends up crying, this can be a sign that the baby’s ready to drop the nap. Just because you have a couple of days of this, it doesn’t necessarily mean the baby is ready. If you have this for over a week, that’s more substantial evidence.

  • The Baby Is Refusing Their Third Nap 

If the baby is always refusing to take a third nap, that’s a sign. Also, if the 

  • Bedtime Blues

If, by the third nap, the baby is having a hard time falling asleep for bedtime, this can be a sign that it’s time to drop that nap like it’s hot. Also, if your baby is always waking up in the middle of the night and keeps awake. They may not even be screaming, but instead playing and having a good time. Or they may be waking up early, and waking the parents along with them! 

Source: flickr.com

When It’s Not Ready to Drop The Third Nap 

With that said, there are some reasons why you wouldn’t want your baby to drop the third nap. These include:

  • All Sleep Has Worsened 

If your baby is having trouble sleeping in the day and night, this may be a sign that the baby is going through an illness, traveling, teething, having a sleep regression, or just going through a phase. Usually, your best bet is to stick to a consistent schedule and see if that passes.

  • Your Baby is Changing 

If your baby is learning how to crawl, sit up, or having another development, it’s harder to drop a nap. Wait until the baby makes their change, then do it. Another example of change is if the baby is growing a tooth. The pain of developing a tooth is not the time for you to change the baby’s naps. You can trust us on that one. You’re just going to stress your baby and yourself, trying to make them do many things at once. Babies are not the best at multitasking. Neither are adults, but that’s different. 

Source: pixabay.com
  • The Naps Are Short 

Before six months, some babies will take naps that are short and sporadic. Trying to fix a baby’s naptime is more of a challenge and not worth it. Once a baby is consistently napping longer and sleeping well, then you can do it. Usually, the naps should be around 1-2 hours, but with any baby, it can differ.

How To Drop The Nap 

If you want to drop the third nap, you do need a little patience. It doesn’t happen overnight, and with the slow change, you can make for a happier baby. Here are a few things you can do. 

Move the bedtime earlier. With fewer naps, your baby can be able to sleep longer at night. Sometimes, you may take your baby to bed as soon as 6 PM. Slowly reduce the bedtime by 15 minutes each day, and you’ll be able to make the transition smoother.

Look at the wake times. Around the period when babies usually drop their third nap, they have wake times that last about 2-3 hours if they are 6-8 months. For 9-12 months, this is usually2 ½-3 ½ hours.

It is time to wean the baby from the third nap. Every week, reduce how long the rest is. For the first week, the third nap should be around 20 minutes. Then, you can cut it to 15 minutes next week. Then 10, and so on. A small cat nap is fine too. As the rest decreases, adjust the bedtime accordingly. 

Meanwhile, extend the first and second nap along with shortening the third. Make sure the baby isn’t sleeping enough and not too much, so their bedtime becomes short. If so, you may need to adjust the bedtime. 

When making progress, do it weekly. Daily progress is a little too inconsistent. There may be days when a baby regresses, and it’s only temporary and not a sign of something worse to come. Write down everything and review the patterns every week, and then you can make changes if needed. 

If all else fails, it’s best to talk to a pediatrician or a sleep doctor and see if your baby needs to drop that nap. There is nothing wrong with letting them nap if they want to. Forcing a change when they aren’t ready will make the problem a whole lot worse.

Source: pexels.com

The Future 

Naps continue into toddlerhood. Eventually, a toddler will drop their second nap, and then they may have only one nap in the afternoon. Afterward, they end up losing that nap and sleeping like the rest of us. With that said, there is still nothing wrong with taking the occasional nap. As an overworked parent, you can relate to that. 


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