The Impact of Dropping the 3rd Nap


When you drop naps, you usually don’t drop that sleep all together. Sleep is rearranged, not dropped, when a nap is dropped. As your baby gets older, sleep time does drop. Usually when you drop a nap, you will rearrange the sleep time and then slowly drop that sleep time later in the day. In this post, I discuss the impact of dropping the third nap on your baby’s day. This post contains affiliate links. 

The Impact of Dropping the 3rd Nap

Dropping the third nap (the evening nap) will impact the rest of your child’s day. Dropping the third nap usually happens around 8 months of age, though the range is 6-11 months.

On Becoming Babywise says, “Once the third nap is dropped, both waketime and often the other remaining naptimes will increase in duration” (page 133). This would mean that baby will likely be awake for other times of day and will likely take a longer nap for the other naps.

For my children, however, they were up for two hours, slept for two hours, up for two hours, slept for two hours. They didn’t really increase waketime or nap time length. I found that they instead moved bedtime up by about 30 minutes.

The Impact of Dropping the 3rd Nap

You could let your child sleep for 2.5 hours and also stay up longer if that didn’t interfere with the nap. If your child can’t stay up longer than two hours and won’t sleep longer than two hours, try moving bedtime up by 30 minutes–at least for a little while. As your child gets older, you can move bedtime back.

Dropping the 3rd Nap In Action

Here is how things looked with dropping the third nap with my second child, Kaitlyn.

I started working on dropping that third nap with Kaitlyn when she was 8 months old (approaching 9). We took the weaning process approach to dropping this nap (see Dropping a Nap: A Weaning Process).

First, I started to extend the time she was awake. She didn’t really have sleep cues, so I just put her down for a nap when it is time. Instead of doing that for the third nap, I would wait until she got fussy. If she never got fussy, she stayed up the whole time.

The nap used to start at 5 PM. Slowly, the nap moved back.

About 1.5 months later, if she needed a nap, it starts at 6 PM. That made it a short nap, but that is okay. It was just enough to get her through.

Since I was breastfeeding, I liked to make sure her last feeding of the day and first feeding of the next day weren’t too many hours apart.

A month and a half into the weaning process, she only took that last nap two of the seven nights. We were getting much closer to officially being done.

With Brayden, my oldest, I dropped it cold turkey. The whole process was not as drawn out, but we also had at least one week of rough evenings where he was just fussy during that time he would have been sleeping.

The way I did it with Kaitlyn was very easy to accomplish. There were no nights of me walking around the house with her, trying to keep her happy, which was nice since I also had a toddler.

So although it took about two months to drop, it was been an easy process for baby and parents. And at least baby is got the extra sleep when she needed it.

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10 thoughts on “The Impact of Dropping the 3rd Nap”

  1. This was also the case for my son–I tried to lengthen waketimes and naps when dropping the third nap and just ended up with a cranky baby. So we went back to the old schedule, tried dropping the nap with just a longer evening waketime and adjusted bedtime. I thought maybe he'd switch to sleeping 12 hours a night then, but he stayed at about 11-hours nighttime sleep.

  2. So we just dropped the 3rd nap last week (She will be nine months old in 3 days). And she hasn't really started sleeping longer during naps?! She gets cranky in the last hour before bed and goes to bed about 30 minutes earlier than she used to. (7:45 or 8 pm- 7:45 or 8 am) She still is sleeping 12 hour nights, but then her naps aren't that long during the day. (A 45 minute- 1 hour nap at 10 and a 1 or 1.25 hour nap around 2) What should her naps during the day be at this point?!

  3. I should have added that when she wakes in the night (usually between 3:30 and 5:30) sshe will "talk" for 30 minutes to an hour and end up wide awake before she starts crying. If you suggest CIO, should we start the checks when she first wakes up or after she starts crying? kids toy shops

  4. Mine will be 9 months old in about a week. For about 1 month we have been in the process of dropping the 3rd nap. I have a few questions:1. If she doesn't nap the entire 2 hours do I leave her in there for the whole 2 hours and then get her? (Even if she did sleep 1.5 hrs?)2. If I put her down early what do the feedings look like? It seems like she's not nursing as well because we are doing finger foods at 5:30 and then I turn around and nurse her at 6:30 (our normal bedtime has been 7 but she can't make it…seems like she needs to be down by 6:30 and I would gladly do so but she needs to nurse)Here's our typical day:6:30 (wake, is content to lay in there until DWT)7:00-DWT, nurse, solids8:50-nap10:30/10:40-wake get at 1111:00-nurse, solids1:00-nap2:30/3-wake (if wake at 2:30 I wait to get her if she's content until 3) She won't nap that 3rd nap no matter if she had bad naps she just won't do it anymore. (that's why I've been leaving her in the crib until 3.3-nurse, solids5:30-finger foods with the family (this is becoming like a 4th meal because she's eating ff's so well) When do I drop feedings solids at 3 and move her last solid feeding to 5:30 with us?6:30/6:45-nurse7-bed Lately I've been nursing at 6:30 because I'm afraid she wont if I try earlier and she's down by 6:50. Any thoughts?Thank you!Jessica 🙂

  5. I also found with both my boys that nighttime sleep increased by 30 minutes when we dropped the 3rd nap. With Tobias we had to increase it from 10.5 to 12 hours actually, but that's because I had been keeping it at 10.5 hours to squeeze in a last before-bed feeding. With Peter it was an increase from 11 to 11.5 hours of nighttime sleep.

  6. Katie, at that age, the two naps should be about two hours. Some kids might go 1.5, some might be 2.5, and most will be around 2

  7. Katie, For night, I would go in to her, tell her it is still night time, then when she is calm, put her in bed and do a faster version of your bedtime routine. Lullaby and kisses. Then CIO is probably the best avenue at that age.

  8. Jessica,1. You could go either way. If she is happy in there for that 30 minutes, I might leave her. She will be resting and it should help her be able to make it to the next nap time happiily.2. I might nurse her before finger foods at 5:30 since you are feeding those then. Then just put her down instead of nursing before bed. You would want to watch your milk supply to be sure going thhat long would be okay. If not, you could add the nursing back or pump later in the evening.

  9. My first one dropped his 3rd nap around 5 months on his own with no issues; he just stopped falling asleep when we would put him down at that time. It was about a month after he moved to the 4-hr feeding schedule. My second son wanted to drop his nap EARLY! Like 3 months, right after he moved to a 4-hr feeding schedul on his own! I would put him down and he would just scream and scream. We tried for months to get him to sleep at that time and NOTHING worked: bed, swing, swaddle, moby wrap, NOTHING. He was sooo cranky at the time of the 3rd nap anyways so it was just a hard time until he was about 7 months old. (probably when he wasn't tired and a normal baby would've dropped that nap) But he just REFUSED to sleep at that time. I dealt with the cranky baby but was glad when it was over. Was there something else I should've done? I seem to have an abundant milk supply as both my boys moved to a 4-hr feeding schedule younger than what I have seen here.


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