Monday, February 4, 2008

Dropping a Nap: A Weaning Process

source
Whether your baby is 7 months old and dropping the third nap, or 4 years old and dropping her only nap, the transition does not need to be what is called "cold turkey." For anyone who doesn't know, cold turkey means all of a sudden, or immediately. While the naps I have dropped with Brayden have been cold turkey, that has not been the pattern with Kaitlyn. Her nap-dropping has been more of a process.

On Becoming Preschoolwise puts it this way, "Children don't suddenly one day stop napping forever. Everyone benefits when Mom sees it as a weaning process" (p.100). This is referring to dropping the only nap of the day, but when I read it, I thought how true that is to Kaitlyn and her naps. To wean someone is to "accustom [them] to manage without something on which they hae become dependent or of which they have become excessively fond" (American Oxford English Dictionary).

Some days Kaitlyn needs that third nap. Other days, she doesn't. As time goes on, she can go later into the evening without it. Brayden did just fine with the "cold turkey" approach, though it did take him a week or two to be happy without it as he adjusted. I will be taking the weaning approach with him when I drop his only nap. Take note that this idea is referring to naps that are dropped, not naps that disappear as schedules are shifted. For more nap-dropping information on this blog, see:

33 comments:

shroffmom said...

I am so confused. I have a 6.5 mth old. She is still having a tough time sleeping through the night. SHe goes to bed at 6:30p and wakes up around 5:30ish, I let her CIO until 6:15, but she hasn't adjusted. So then our napping is off. Her wake time is about 95min, so she has been having 3 naps a day. But in the last couple weeks. He first two naps are only 1 hour. I thought it was the hour intruder but she doesn't go back to sleep. So does that mean she is trying to drop one of those?? Her 3rd nap is only 1.5hrs if I am lucky. I feel like they should be longer. What am I doing wrong? Thank you for any help or suggestions!

The Lins said...

I think you might be putting her to bed too early. She might not be at the point she can sleep 12 hours between feedings. I have the same thing going on with my 6 mth old's naps, though. She only takes one nap that exceeds an hour (afternoon), but it's usually almost 2 hours. For the other naps, I've just been letting her get up even though it's been shorter than before. She's happy and alert during her wake times, so I think she's getting all the sleep she requires from those naps. I'm wondering if I should drop that third nap since sometimes it's only 25-30 minutes.

shroffmom said...

Thanks for your ideas. I have tried to put her down later, but she is just so tired by 6pm. Tonight I got her to 6:45p, so we will see if that makes her sleep alittle later. Also when I came in after her nap his afternoon she was sitting up, so maybe going through different developmental things are throwing her off her naps too. Or at least we can hope!! Thanks again for your reply and your encouragement.

Plowmanators said...

shroffmom, I would consider the strong possibility that she doesn't need to sleep 12 hours. My three year old son has never slept 12 hours. Anywhere from 10-12 hours is acceptable. See

10-12 Hours of Sleep: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/07/10-12-hours-of-sleep.html

If you want her to sleep later, putting her down later using stratigies in this post:

Time Change Strategies: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/02/time-change-strategies.html

If she hasn't had her 6 month growth spurt yet, that might be the reason for short naps. All other ideas are in these posts:

5-8 Month Sleep Disruptions : http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/05/6-month-sleep-disruptions.html

45 Minute Intruder: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/01/45-minute-intruder.html

Naps: Troubleshooting: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2007/12/naps-troubleshooting.html

Plowmanators said...

Lins, in addition to the posts I linked for shroffmom, see this post:

Dropping the 3rd Nap (evening): http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/01/dropping-3rd-nap-evening.html

acasiadetawator said...

HELP. My son is 13 months and has been not napping well for both his naps for the past 2 weeks i.e. short 45 min nap in the morning and crying for an hour and a half for the second. I thought maybe he was ready for one nap so I started putting him down at around 1230. He sleeps 1.5hrs to the second. Do I let him cry for the whole 3 hrs and hope one days he'll just sleep the whole time?? I am going crazy, he needs sleep. I am in university some days and work others so its been hard to keep a perfect schedule for him. I feel like an awful mother because I can't figure out a schedule that lets him get the sleep he needs...

Plowmanators said...

I would move him back to two naps. He might be going through a normal transition period. See the post "dropping the morning nap...transition period" or something like that :). You might need to change waketime length instead of dropping it all together.

The Camperos said...

I have read all your posts on dropping naps and weaning naps. My daughter is 13 months old and the last month has been difficult with her naps. Seems like 2 is too much but one is not enough. She has been a 7am to 7pm baby most days. So with this waketime in the am she used to nap at 10am but if I do this she isn't ready to sleep again until 4pm and won't go down until 9pm. (This is when I shorten to 45 minutes or less.) If I do one nap she only makes it to 11:30 but crabby since around 10am. She only sleeps about 1.5 hours on average and cannot handle being awake from 1pm to 7pm! I have tried pushing her one nap a bit later 12, 1230 or 1 (I do daycare for 7 other toddlers who nap around 1pm and would be ideal to have a quiet house for a while:) and she is a mess cries a lot in bed and short naps! I guess OT right? So what is your suggestions. I have alternated days to try it out but the results are the same I posted above. Do I keep going trying to get rid of the am nap and she will eventually adjust and take longer naps or be able to stay awake longer? Or do I go back to 2 naps and have later bedtime/shorter naps. Any advice very helpful thanks!

Plowmanators said...

It doesn't sound like she is ready for one nap. If that is the case, she will only get more tired as time goes on and her sleep will get worse. I think it is possible that she is up too long and catching a second wind. I would try putting her down after being awake for 2-2.5 hours and see what happens. Try it out for about a week. So you would do:
7eat 9nap 11eat 1nap 3eat 6-7ish eat then bed

The Camperos said...

Thanks! I think you are right she does much better with 2 naps. I know she can do 1 if there is a day that she has to but it is usually to bed early that night.:)

Jenna said...

Hello

Hopefully I haven't missed this answer while scanning the site. If its already listed please direct me!

My son is almost 11 months old and has been doing everything by the book. About a week ago I started an attempt at dropping his 3 nap and since then its been touch and go. His previous schedule was as follows:

8 am Wake/ breaky (nurse/ solids)
10-1030 nap time
12 wake/ lunch (nurse/ solids)
2-230 nap time
4 dinner (nurse/ solids)
6-7 nap time
730-8 nurse/ down for the night

We decided to try and drop the 3rd nap at which point I would nurse him again at 630-700. Instead of going down for a nap he would go down for the night. Since he was napping well during the day and it made sense to us to just drop the 3rd nap and put him down for the night. ( We also have a friend who puts her son down at 630 for the night and he gets up at 8, of course I realize every baby is different but thought it worth a try). We have now been at this for about 5 days or so with mixed results. The first day or two he woke up at 730 and talked until 8. Then a couple days after that he was awoken by a random early morning bowel movement (which he never does that early). One night he woke 3-4 times according to my husband which we think might be related to teething as he's been pulling at his mouth on and off for the last 3 weeks. This morning he woke at 630 and whined on and off until 8. I changed his bum and gave him a little medicine as he was pulling at his mouth. He was fine every time I picked him up so I'm thinking he just wanted to get out of bed.

So here is my questions: Should I continue with our course as maybe it will take a few more days if not another week? OR is it unrealistic for him to go down for the night at 630? He does show sleep cues around that time every night so I know he does need some kind of rest!

Thank you for your time and again my apologies if I've already missed a similar inquiry.

The Camperos said...

Hello Jenna. I am not the expert but I thought I could advise in my experience a bit as every child is different but most BW kids fall into a kind of similar pattern. My DD is 15 months old. We dropped her third nap around 8-9 months, most BW moms I know drop somewhere between 6-10. Most BW babies at your child's age are on a two nap schedule each nap 1-2 hours long, often longer. Your child probably needs that 3rd napp becuase the other two are too short. Try to lengthen these and he will naturally not need that third nap. When my DD has been super tired(one nap for the day at her present age or possibly a short second nap) she has gone down at 6pm or 630. I have seen other mom's in BW groups who's baby has a normal bedtime of 630. If your child is ready at this time and still wakes at or close to desired waketime go with it. Hope this helps a bit. I am interested to see what the expert says:)

Jenna said...

Thanks for your comment! I'm starting to think he is just no ready. He generally naps, on average, 1 1/2 hours. Sometimes less if he gets down too late. Yesterday he was down in time and skipped his afternoon nap entirely. This has happened before when we tried dropping a nap, mistakenly, a couple of months ago. We we're in the middle of moving houses, he wasn't sleeping so we thought he was ready to drop the afternoon nap. That of courses backfired an he stopped napping well entirely and was waking up early in the morning.

Unfortunately there is no "getting him to nap longer." We consider 1 1/2 hour adequate because he rarely gives us anything more. We follow his sleep cues which are roughly the same time everyday. If we try to extend his wake time then his nap time decreases. Hence the inability to "lengthen" his naps. This also happens if we put him down too early.

That said, he simply might not be ready and perhaps we'll just have to wait until he's older. Would still love to hear feedback especially if anyone out there has had a similar issue. Thanks so much for all your help!

Jenna said...

If anyone has any more advice I would really appreciate it! It is now week 3 of trying to get my son to drop the 3rd nap. We are trying to distract him and play with him until 7pm then feed and straight to bed. Now we are finding he is waking up at 7 and whining/ crying/ playing. Of course he then gets tired earlier which throws off the rest of his daily schedule. PLEASE HELP! It, of course, could be he's just not ready at 10months to drop this 3rd nap. Plus he's getting his bottom molars in.....

Plowmanators said...

Jenna,

I think Camperos made a great point. 1.5 hours is an acceptable nap, but it is on the low end of naps, so compared to a baby who is napping for 2 hours, that would put him in need of a third nap.

The teeth could be doing it.

Honestly, it is VERY uncommon for a baby to go to bed and sleep for 14 hours. Really uncommon. Your friend is literally only the second baby I have ever heard of doing that. I would say you shouldn't expect your baby to sleep more than 12 hours. So if he is going down at 7, expect him to wake at 7. If you don't want him to wake at 7 AM and he can't make it past 7 PM, then go back to having a third nap. Good luck!

Jenna said...

I have finally sorted out my sons naps so I thought I should share! Yes! Finally!

As mentioned previously he eats on every four hours. I was previously giving him his dinner at 4pm then attempting to just nurse him before bed (at 8 then worked my way down to 630) However, trying to drop that 3rd nap was an issue especially since he's also teething.

I had thought of switching his 4 pm meal to 630 and my idea was confirmed when i spoke with a friend and she mentioned that is what she does with her son (who is a fantastic sleeper).

Now Ollie just nurses at 4 pm then nurses again at 600-630 followed by dinner with the family. This is wonderful because we can now show him the value of eating together as a family. This is also a help because his tummy is now fuller to aid in overnight sleep!

He now eats with us then we go straight into his nighttime routine putting him in bed around 700-730. Some days he wakes up around 8 and other days he wakes up around 7ish but just plays until we go in and get him. Its great!

Thanks for you help and comments! This website has been such a valuable resource for me!

Plowmanators said...

Jenna, thanks so much for sharing! It is always fun to hear, and I think it is very valuable for future readers :)

Hannah Belle said...

PLEASE HELP! From 4-6 months of age, my son would sleep beautifully with the following schedule:

7 - 4 oz bottle, cereal
8:30 - down for nap
10 - 4 oz bottle
11:30 - down for nap
1:00 - 4 oz bottle + jar of fruit
2:30 - down for nap
4:00 - 4 oz bottle
5:30 - down for nap
7:00 - 4 oz bottle + veggie jar
8:00 - bed for the night

He has slept through the night since 3 months. At 6 mos of age, I started working noon-6, and my mom took over keeping him. Apparently he stopped resting well for his 11:30 and 5:30 nap and she failed to tell me until it was a regular thing. Then, we moved two weeks ago (just as he turned 8 mos), and it has been HORRIBLE ever since. He stills sleeps beautifully for his morning nap -- get up at 7, eat, play for about an hour and half, go to sleep and sleep for 1.5-2 hours. Everything after that is a struggle. He screams when I put him in his bed, he does not sleep for the 11:30 or 5:30 naps AT ALL, and when he does finally go to sleep for the others, he only sleeps for exactly 45 mins and wakes up screaming, NOT happy like he used to. In fact, the only time he wakes up happy is first thing in the morning and after that long morning nap.

I realize he is at an age that he does not need all those naps, but because he was in someone else's care, I missed out on the dropping/weaning process and need some tips on where to go from here. I am totally clueless as to how much he should be eating, when to put him to bed, about how long he should be awake/asleep, etc. Any, ANY tips would be greatly appreciated. We are all cranky and miserable the way things are going now!

The Camperos said...

Hannah Belle
I would say your child is ready to push the naps back a bit. At that age my DD was sleeping 7pm-7am.
9am or 915-nap
10 or 1030 snack
1230 or 1pm-nap
3pm snack
Often at this age she would skip her evening nap if she was rested enough. If so I would put her down early at 6pm or 630pm.

I hope you get it worked out and he is back on track soon. I am interested to hear what the pro says! FYI there is a great babywise moms group on babyfit.com too if you are interested.

Plowmanators said...

Hannah Belle,

I would start with a two up, two down approach. So have him up for two hours, down for two hours, up for two hours, down two hours.

His third nap, if he needs it, will likely be about 45 minutes long or so.

I think that is a good starting point and a schedule that most 8 month olds should be able to do.

Be consistent and he should get back on track. Good luck!

Jeannine said...

Plowmanators what would you suggest for my soon to be 8 month old. She has a two up, two down routine except after 5pm, she naps until 6pm and I nurse her, so it looks like:
7:00--nurse + solids
9:00--nap
11:00--nurse + solids
1:00--nap
3:00--nurse
5:00--nap
6:00--nurse + solids + bath + bed

Although now she's waking up at 2pm. How do I know its an intruder or she's ready to drop the last nap or change her schedule completely.

Thanks

Plowmanators said...

Typically in this case, if she needed to drop the last nap, she would have night sleep issues, not 2 PM sleep issues. I would try adding 5 minutes of waketime at a time to see if that helps things. But do also see "wonder weeks" blog label because that could explain the behavior, in which case you just "wait it out."

Jen T said...

My 14 month old has always been a good sleeper, pretty textbook. But, lately we have been putting her in her crib for a morning nap and she spends 30-60 minutes playing, laughing, singing, etc. before she falls asleep. She can do the same thing for her afternoon nap and at bedtime. She's happy, but just not sleeping. We've tried dropping the morning nap, but she is cranky and seems to need the sleep. At bedtime, we've pushed back her bedtime to 7:15-7:30 and that seems to have helped as she only spends 20-30 minutes awake in her crib. Our typical schedule is 7AM awake, 8:30-8:45 nap, 1:00-1:30 nap and 7:15-7:30 bedtime. Once she falls asleep, she sleeps about 1.5 hours each. How do we improve her efficiency with napping so she can spend less time in her crib?

Plowmanators said...

Jen T,

Try putting her down later for her morning nap.

Laur Laur and Trev said...

I have a 6.5 month old as well and he sleeps roughly 10.5 hours a night. His naps are all over the place, however. Right now (for the last 2 months) he has been sleeping between 30-45 min naps, 3x a day. Because they are so short he tends to wake crying or fussy. I have tried letting him cry it out. My question is this, is it possible he could cut back to just two naps per day? Once he is up and out of his crib, he is quite happy (somehow with only that limited amount of sleep!)but I would like for his naps to be longer. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Plowmanators said...

He is old enough that he could have two naps a day, however I don't think I would move to two naps with his naps being as short as they are. I would still with three for a couple more months at least.

Laur Laur and Trev said...

Thanks! He is doing better now and sleeps closer to 11-11.5 hours at night. His naps are closer to an hour too, which is an improvement!

Lindsey said...

Hi! My husband and I were SO grateful for your blog when we became parents 7 months ago. We started BW day 1. Our daughter started STTN at 6 weeks. She is 7 months, now.

We had 45 minute intruder struggles for 8 weeks, and just recently began napping well again when we moved to a 4 hr schedule because she was not hungry at earlier feedings.

I am a teacher, so her wake time is early! Her schedule was like this:
6:15 wake (was always asleep when woken)
6:30- 7 oz. bottle 4 tbs. oatmeal and 1/2 stage 1 fruit.
7:45-8:00- down for nap (she can't make it the full 2 hours there, yet)
10:15- up from nap (very long morning nap)
10:30- 6 oz. bottle
12:15- nap
2:15- up from nap
2:30- 6 oz. bottle
4:00- dinner- veggie and fruit
4:15-5:00- catnap
6:15- bath time
6:30- 7 oz. bottle
6:45 story time
7:00- bed

For the last week, she has been waking early, playing. This will last up to 2 hours. I consulted all posts about early wake-time. I thought it was a feeding issue, so we increased morning and night feedings to 7 oz. After trouble shooting that idea for 3 days with still waking an hour to 2 hours early, I am wondering if she is sleeping TOO much during the day. Even though EC reminds me VERY much of your Kaitlyn, we attempted the cold turkey drop on the afternoon nap like Brayden. This has created a very grumpy baby that takes at least 45 minutes to fall asleep in her bed.

Do you have any other advice for us?
Thank you so much for all you do, freely!

Lindsey said...

Hi! My husband and I were SO grateful for your blog when we became parents 7 months ago. We started BW day 1. Our daughter started STTN at 6 weeks. She is 7 months, now.

We had 45 minute intruder struggles for 8 weeks, and just recently began napping well again when we moved to a 4 hr schedule because she was not hungry at earlier feedings.

I am a teacher, so her wake time is early! Her schedule was like this:
6:15 wake (was always asleep when woken)
6:30- 7 oz. bottle 4 tbs. oatmeal and 1/2 stage 1 fruit.
7:45-8:00- down for nap (she can't make it the full 2 hours there, yet)
10:15- up from nap (very long morning nap)
10:30- 6 oz. bottle
12:15- nap
2:15- up from nap
2:30- 6 oz. bottle
4:00- dinner- veggie and fruit
4:15-5:00- catnap
6:15- bath time
6:30- 7 oz. bottle
6:45 story time
7:00- bed

For the last week, she has been waking early, playing. This will last up to 2 hours. I consulted all posts about early wake-time. I thought it was a feeding issue, so we increased morning and night feedings to 7 oz. After trouble shooting that idea for 3 days with still waking an hour to 2 hours early, I am wondering if she is sleeping TOO much during the day. Even though EC reminds me VERY much of your Kaitlyn, we attempted the cold turkey drop on the afternoon nap like Brayden. This has created a very grumpy baby that takes at least 45 minutes to fall asleep in her bed.

Do you have any other advice for us?
Thank you so much for all you do, freely!

Plowmanators said...

It doesn't look like she is sleeping too much in the day. It actually might be that she needs a different bedtime.

There are also lots of other possible reasons. See the post "5-8 month sleep disruptions"

Bob Scott said...

When going from 2 naps to 1 nap a day, when should lunch be given? I have a 13 month old who I think might be heading towards 1 nap, but not yet sure. I know Babywise always had feeding after naps, but it seems like I should give him lunch and then put him down. Any suggestions?

Katie said...

Hello! My 5.5 sweet boy (almost 24 weeks to be exact) has in the last month started napping 1.5 hours instead of 2 hours. When he was napping 2 hour intervals, we were so close to dropping his 4th nap in the evening. Our schedule is currently:

7:30am - wake and nurse
8:45am - nap
10:30am - nurse
12:00pm - nap
1:30pm - nurse
3:15pm- nap
4:30ish- nurse
6:30pm- catnap
7:30pm- nurse & bedtime

Sometimes he will nap almost 2 hours in the morning, which then can let us skip that 4th nap....but it's very inconsistent right now. First, I am confused as to why he is napping shorter naps all the sudden. Waketime issues? Could it be he sleeps longer at night now, so doesn't need as much sleep? (He is STTN with no dream feed for a month now.) Secondly, do I just wait until he starts napping longer or doing more waketime to drop that 4th nap? That seems to be my only way as of right now. Thirdly, at this rate with his shorter naps, it seems it will take quite a while until he is ready for a 4 hour schedule. (Note: he is not on solids yet...was planning on starting that in the next week or so. Could he be needing that extra food?)Sorry for so many questions! I have read all your posts on nap weaning, the 4 hour schedule, etc. and was still trying to figure this thing out. I definitely don't want to push him to do something before he is ready. Any advice you could give would be great! Thanks for all you do in helping other Mamas out there! :-)

Molly Young said...

Hi there! I've been searching my baby books and this site to find some answers/ advice.

My daughter is 5.5 months and has always been a GREAT sleeper-- sleeping 8ish hours at night around 4 weeks and sleeping 11ish hours (with a 10pm dream-feed) at 12 weeks. I dropped the dream-feed about 6 weeks ago and since then she's been sporadically waking up in the night. At first I thought it was a habit but she goes 4 or 5 nights sleeping 11-12 hours then all of a sudden she wakes up in the middle of the night-- goes another day or two sleeping through the night then randomly wakes up the next night. For the last 6 weeks I have been experimenting with different sleep schedules and feedings and haven't seemed to have much success.

Right now I'm trying out this schedule:

Wake & Eat- 7:30am
Nap-- 9:15am
Eat-- 11:15am
Nap-- 1pm
Eat-- 2:30pm
Nap-- 4:15pm
Eat-- 5:15pm
*Eat before bed*
Bedtime-- 7:15-7:30
(Usually by the time she's done nursing it's pretty close to 8pm)

*We have not started solids because our pediatrician suggested we wait until 6 months. I'm worried she is not getting enough calories during the day. We have tried allowing her to cry but she eventually get hysterical. My husband tries to sooth her first but she will continue to scream. When I finally nurse her she takes a full feeding and is usually still awake but when I put her down she just goes back to sleep without a fuss. This is what leads me to believe it's a hunger problem. I'm not sure how to fix it though. I have tried adding another feeding but she doesn't always want to eat. I've tried feeding her before her naps to top her off. Cluster feeding doesn't seem to work either.

Do you think she'll sleep better once we start solids?

I would love any tips and advice!

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