Help A Reader Out…Dropping The Morning Nap

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Ajenkstrio said…

Question! (and I hope it doesn’t actually take three weeks to answer, but I promise not to wait that long to start tweaking!)

My 20 month old has been reluctant to totally drop to one nap, but I am sure this is why she now wakes up in the night more often, so I am NOT letting her sleep in the morning! However, you suggest that her taking only short naps, even when that is her only one, may be because she is staying up too long.

In this process of dropping the morning nap, what do you do with lunch? I have moved lunch a little earlier than her normal noon-time to get her down for a nap, but what if she is acting tired at 10:30 (or even earlier!)? Would you keep her up for another hour until lunch at 11:30? Would you put her to bed then and hope she doesn’t wake up hungry? Would you feed her a snack and have a late lunch whenever she does wake up? I know you have lots of suggestions about trying earlier and later and have read most of your articles about weaning and transitioning but don’t see anything about eating in conjunction with figuring out naps. This is the first big transition that has not gone easily for us within a few weeks. Thanks!

January 19, 2010 12:42 PM

Jennifer said…

Debbie, just a little anecdotal help from me. My daughter is 23 months and we went to one nap at about 18 months. She still acts tired around 10:30 or 11:00 am. However, I know from experience I have to keep her up until 1:00 (used to be 12:30) otherwise she’d only sleep for an hour. I try to give her a snack around 10 am and then we often get out of the house until lunch time around 12 to keep her happy. It’s better now, but it was pretty hard to keep her up for a month or two. I hope Valerie will also have some good advice for you.
January 20, 2010 3:03 PM

Ajenkstrio said…

Jennifer, thank you for your help! After only one day of trying to let her nap earlier, we went back to running errands or something until lunch so she could nap around 1 or 1:30. She has begun napping better – 1-1/2 to 2 hours. I am looking forward to hearing more, though, about sleeping all night again! I had thought that the nap transition would help that, but it hasn’t. She wakes up at least once nearly every night and has for the last three months – ugh. Today I found the posts about toddler sleep problems and was glad to hear that many other parents have dealt with the same thing. It means we’ll all make it through eventually! 🙂 I guess the questions here, to follow up are the following . . . How much sleep do they need at different ages? When she goes to only one nap, and still sleeps the same 11-12 hours at night, is that enough? What else can you do in the night to keep the child from waking the house? What else could help to solve this besides working through the nap transition? I am sure that winter – less active playing time – doesn’t help, but I don’t know what else to try. We’ve tried earlier and later bedtimes, letting her cry longer to see if she’ll go back to sleep on her own (she doesn’t; she just gets really agitated and then bothers the upstairs neighbors and is much harder to calm down to sleep), more or less pajamas/blankets. She has always slept in a dark room, and there isn’t much noise at night. I certainly have appreciated all of the help here – from Valerie and other parents!

February 2, 2010 2:47 PM

Plowmanators said…

I would treat dropping the nap as a weaning process. Some days, she might need two. Others, just one.

If she was tired at 10:30, I would put her down for a morning nap–a short one. Maybe 1-1.5 hours. Then I would have lunch and put her down for an afternoon anp around 2 or so depending on when she was tired.

Another option is to take her out of the house so she can be distracted from being tired while her body adjusts to one nap.

I usually give my kids snacks around 10ish when they are down to one nap. That is our one snack of the day because we eat an early dinner.
February 3, 2010 10:57 AM

Plowmanators said…


She should be getting about the same amount of sleep per 24 hours, so if going to one nap dropped daytime sleep, move bedtime up.

Watch for molars that can disrupt nighttime sleep, as well as nightmares.
February 3, 2010 11:00 AM

Plowmanators said…

Also, if you would like, I can post your info as a help a reader out question for more reader input. Let me know.
February 3, 2010 11:00 AM

Ajenkstrio said…

I don’t mind. Especially after reading the post and comments about toddler sleep issues, this is a problem for many of us! Do you need more information?

For our part, she now naps most days after lunch for 2 hours. If she wakes up earlier, she will sometimes lie back down. We have had more full nights than interrupted and hope to keep working toward not waking at all in the night. Not perfect, but better! What a transition . . .

February 10, 2010 6:30 AM

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Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

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  1. Michael and Natalie
    March 3, 2010 / 5:44 PM

    Does your daughter always take her second nap when she has taken a good morning nap? For quite a while my daughter would take a morning nap, but then just rest/play through her afternoon nap. I would put her down at 10:30, feed her lunch when she got up, then put her down for an afternoon "rest". I very, very gradually move the morning nap later and later, and right now it's at 11:45. She no longer needs the afternoon rest. I keep her in her crib til 2, feed her lunch and she seems fine. My daughter isn't a big eater, but if i was concerned I'd feed her breafast, feed her a snack at 10, put her down then feed her lunch when she woke up. Good luck!

  2. Tracy
    March 3, 2010 / 6:25 PM

    Sounds like you've got it all figured out, but I will add that when we first started making the transition, I gave my kids (twins) lunch earlier, say at 11. They would then nap at 11:30ish, for 2-3 hours. We gradually pushed it back, and now they eat lunch between 1130-1200 and go down for a nap afterwards. I find they need sleep regularly 11.5-12 hours solid at night, and then the 2ish hour nap, so approx. 14/day. Our bedtime is early right now (7pm), so they're getting up at 630-7, having breakfast around 730, then a snack at 930. Some days we have to have two snacks in the afternoon, depending on what time we're having dinner, but most days that is around 530-6pm. We've definitely fallen into a pattern again, but dropping this morning nap seemed to be a two month transition phase. It's nice, though, because now we can have outings in the morning, which also serves to keep my kids stimulated enough that they stay awake.Hope this helps. 🙂 p.s. we are getting our 2-year molars in now and my son is waking several times at night a couple days each week. We're just rolling with it.

  3. court
    March 3, 2010 / 6:51 PM

    We, too, are having a difficult time with 2 naps, however, my son is only 11 months old. Our problem lately (the last month and half) has been that he will usually play through one of his 2 naps. He is tired when I put him down for his nap but then proceeds to play for the whole 2 hours, completely content but not getting the rest he needs. If he plays during his first nap, he, of course, is tired and fussy once I get him up and will definately sleep during the 2nd nap. At first I thought it was a development issues but now its been going on for so long. I am not sure what to do since he seems too young to go to one nap and appears very tired to me. He is a late crawler and just starting to be a bit more mobel which I thought might have something to do with it too. I would love any suggestions you might have. Thank you so much for taking the time to help out so many mothers! Courtney

  4. Tracy
    March 3, 2010 / 7:02 PM

    Hey Courtney, for what it's worth, my daughter (I have b/g twins) started going through the same thing around 11months. I started transitioning them around 12 months, and regularly got a 3 hour nap out of her. But if I had her nap in the morning, no way would she nap in the afternoon. IMHO, each child is different, so it is possible that your son is ready to start the transition. Some may disagree with me, but that's what I found having two very different children of the same age.That may also explain why the transition was so long for me…for my daughter we were starting late, and my son we were starting early, so we had challenges for a good 2-3 months before it all ironed itself out.

  5. Redheads
    March 3, 2010 / 7:29 PM

    My DD dropped her AM nap very young at 12 months old. Her waketime was 6:45 am, and I did a very early lunch around 10:45 or 11am. She does act tired at around 9:30 or 10am most mornings, but I just give her some milk and/or a snack and take her outside. She bounces back fine. She gets sleepy again around 11am, and I feed her lunch now at round 11:15am. She then perks up again b/c of the food and we do some quiet play right after lunch, then read books and is napping at 12:15pm. You CAN do lunch after the nap if it is really necessary, but I always felt that it would be easier just to keep the order of events the same during this pretty rough transition (lunch, then nap). The first 4 days were rough (we dropped it cold turkey), and after that it has been going very well.HTH!Amy

  6. Mary Ashley
    March 3, 2010 / 10:02 PM

    We JUST did this within the past two weeks. He was starting to full out refuse the morning nap about every 4-5 days (especially when with me, not at daycare) so I started only letting him sleep for 20 minutes (so he didn't enter deep sleep, around 10). He didn't want to wake up but then I put him down again around 1:30-3:30. If he didn't have a morning nap (no tired cues, etc.) then we ate lunch at 12 and went down by 12:30 and slept until 2:30 at the earliest. The first few times I had to either go in and pat him back to sleep or rock him back to sleep. He had to get used to sleeping longer b/c he never really napped more than 1:15. Hope that helps!

  7. the heller family
    March 4, 2010 / 2:23 AM

    My daughter did not drop the morning nap until she was 20 months old and we had the exact problems. She dropped it around 18 months and was so exhausted most days, that I brought it back for 2 more months and then did more of a weaning process. I was eventually noticing on the days that she had a good morning nap though that the afternoon was terrible. I then switched her to only an afternoon nap by keeping her busy during that cranky time around 10:30. If we fought through that time, she would usually get a second wind, especially if she had a snack. I played with the optimal time to have her go down too. After a lot of trial and error, we finally settled on this wake 7:30, snack around 10 or 10:30 and then lunch at 12 and nap at 1. I give her a board book and remind her that she can sleep or read but she must stay in bed until nap time is over and then I don't get her out for at least 2 hours. Some days she will only sleep an hour and a half and other days she will go three but I make sure she is at least down for 2 and at least resting if she does not sleep through. I also moved bedtime from 8:30 to 8 and that helped a little too. The board book seemed to help keep her laying down resting and also seems to settle her on the days that she might have a harder time falling asleep.

  8. Minnesota
    March 4, 2010 / 3:45 PM

    This comment won't apply to this topic…sorry! I wasn't sure if you only answer the most recent posts or if I should comment on the appropriate post, so here goes.My 7-wk-old was on a very regular 3-hr schedule. He refused to sleep longer than 3 1/2 hours at night, so we started "sleep training" him, letting him CIO to try to get him to go 4 or 4 1/2 hours between the 11:00 feeding and the next. Then he started waking even earlier, so after researching here, I assumed it must be a growth spurt. You say to "feed, feed, feed," when it's a growth spurt, so I have been, sometimes 10 times a day. How does a newborn transition back to a good schedule after being demand fed for days? And how will I know when he's done with the growth spurt so we can start trying to be on a schedule again? I'm at my wit's end with the lack of sleep here…

  9. Plowmanators
    March 17, 2010 / 5:35 PM

    Court,See the post "nap disruptions:walking, crawling, standing, etc." (or whatever it is…it starts Nap disruptions)Have you tried adding just 5 minutes of waketime at a time to see if that solves it?

  10. Plowmanators
    March 17, 2010 / 5:37 PM

    Minnesota,With McKenna, when a growth spurt was over, I would get her and rock her back to sleep. She seemed to just need help remembering to sleep longer than 45 minutes, then she bounced back.The way you know the growth spurt is over is they won't eat well anymore.

  11. Bo and Arlies Mom
    September 25, 2010 / 5:01 PM

    HELP! Also in a nap dilemma… Bo is 14 months old. Wakes around 8:30am, back down at 10:30am for a nap – and usually sleeps well until at least 1/1:30pm. Then lunch, and back down @ 2:30/3pm. BUT, he has not been sleeping well for the afternoon nap for several weeks now. He will play quietly in his bed and usually start to get sleepy or go to sleep just an hour or so before "get-up" time. Then I always debate whether or not to just let him sleep longer, or go ahead and get him up (usually around 5/5:30pm.) Goes to bed each night at 8pm, sleeps well on average 12 hours. On some days, like Sunday/church for instance, he misses his morning nap and gets down for the first time around 1:30 or 2 at the latest, and takes a BIG afternoon nap until 5 or 6. Sooo…When given the morning nap, he still sleeps well, and almost always, I still have to wake him. So, my dilemma is – do I start skipping the morning nap, move lunch earlier, and put him down for an afternoon nap around 1? Or, still put him down for morning, let him sleep til he wakes, and give him late lunch? OR, keep doing what I'm doing and keep trying the 2 naps a day? He just seemed a little young to go to one nap already! Thanks Valerie!

  12. Tracy
    September 25, 2010 / 5:59 PM

    Valerie, my twins started doing the same thing around the one year mark, and over the course of the next couple months, I dropped the morning nap and moved them to one nap per day. In the beginning, I would skip the morning snack, give them lunch at 1030 or so, and then put them down at 11am. (our morning wake time is around 630-7, bedtime is at 7pm.) After awhile, they got used to that, and were napping for 2-3 hours every day. Really well. Then, I'd move lunch back a little bit more, lather, rinse repeat. Now, we eat lunch at 1130-1200, then go down for a nap. They are still sleeping 2-3 hours per day and we just turned 2 last week. In the beginning I wondered if they were really ready for just one nap per day, but most of the moms I hang out with that have similarly aged children started dropping the a.m. nap around that same age; I bet your kiddo is ready, too. Good luck!(ha ha!!! I just read the comments and saw that I wrote pretty much the same thing as this 6 months ago!)

  13. Plowmanators
    October 13, 2010 / 8:42 PM

    Bo and Arlies Mom,I am not sure if you wrote that wrong, but if not, he has 2 hours of waketime in the morning and then just 1-2 before the second nap? I would get him up from the morning nap after two hours and then put him down at 2:30-3:00. You can try one nap if you want to. If you do, watch carefully because sleep deprivation can build up over a couple of weeks and he would suddenly stop sleeping well.

  14. Bo and Arlies Mom
    October 21, 2010 / 6:46 PM

    Thanks for your reply Valerie. The afternoon waketime is usually closer to two hours. In waiting to hear back from you, I have experimented a little… If I put him down later and just do one afternoon nap (starting at 12 or 1) he will sleep solid for three or sometimes even four hours. I have also tried putting him down for his morning nap at normal time (usually around 10:45 or 11) and if I just let him go, he will also sleep close to four hours. I always feel so bad waking him "early" in the morning nap when he seems to be sleeping so well, and so long. But I hate for him to be that late for lunch. But inevitably, if I wake him from that morning nap, he does not take the afternoon nap well at all. That's why I hesitate to wake hime at two hours… if he doesn't then sleep again in the afternoon, is THAT going to rack up a deficit?… whereas if I leave him alone he sleeps much longer?He still seems so sleepy at the morning naptime… so I have been hesitant to try to keep him up to make it an "afternoon nap." I just don't know what to do! And so far, no matter what I've tried, he still sleeps well at night, usually around 12 hours (thank goodnes). How much sleep per day does a 15 month old need? And do you think he would be better off with me waking him after the 2 hours in the morning, rather than getting 4 hrs in one nap? Wish these little buggers came with a better manual! 😉

  15. Tracy
    October 21, 2010 / 6:50 PM

    I know you aren't asking me, but I'd probably just roll with it (if you're able to.) At first, my kids were really tired and I fed them lunch at 1030 in the morning with nap shortly after. As they got older, they were gradually able to stay up longer. If he's sleeping well at night and for naps, then you're doing something right! 🙂

  16. Plowmanators
    November 4, 2010 / 9:07 PM

    Bo and Arlies Mom,If it were me, I would shoot for one nap right now. My guess is that if he takes one nap a day in the "morning" for 4 hours, he won't make it to bedtime very happily. So I would shoot for 11:30-12.00 for now with a long nap. As he gets older, he will be able to gradually move that nap time back.McKenna takes one nap a day. If I put her down for a morning nap, she sleeps well for it, but then won't sleep much in the afternoon. So I do an afternoon nap.They can be tricky!

  17. {Webessence...}
    April 25, 2011 / 11:26 PM

    Hi, I’m hoping you can find this post, and that perhaps you can help me….I have a 15 ½ month old who has been a bad napper since the ripe old age of 4 weeks. I think I’ve had about 3-4 months of good napping since that time. The latest problem started in January, shortly after his first birthday when he, for the most part, stopped taking his afternoon nap. From reading around your blog and elsewhere, it seemed it was a sign of readiness to drop the morning nap…which made me very sad, as I was 7 months pregnant, and REALLY hoping he’d still be taking 2 naps when the new baby came. Since that time, I’ve tried what feels like everything, with moments of hopefulness that it is just a stage, when there are a couple of good days. We’ve tried dropping the morning nap altogether, which resulted in a VERY tired, cranky boy by 8:30am after about 10 days. We’ve tried alternating days and also just putting him down for 2 naps regardless. When he does just go down in the afternoon, he now only sleeps 1:45, the same as he did each nap when there were 2. He doesn’t cry at all at any time, he just plays in his bed, talks to himself, to his blankets, to the wall, whatever will listen . I’m really at my wit’s end as to what to do, I’m tired (weary, really) of feeling this anxious knot in my chest every time he goes down…sometimes it feels like I’m about to have a full panic attack. I don’t know what to do, but I can’t just do nothing. I obsess over whether or not I’m missing something, and if I could do something or change something that I’m not that is preventing him from getting more sleep/the sleep he needs. So I guess I’m half asking if you can see something I’m missing, and half asking for reassurance that I’m not a BW failure,… 😛

  18. Plowmanators
    May 10, 2011 / 3:53 PM

    WEbessence,There are several posts that can help you. One is "Chronic 45 Minute Naps" along with other 45 minute napping.Another is a post on the transition from going from two naps to one (see the index under "Dropping things")Another is the post from April of this year "You can't force sleep"I think those three will help you out 🙂

  19. The Russells
    June 13, 2012 / 7:45 PM

    Hi,Like so many other BW moms, I am in a constant state of panic. I dread every day because I do not know whether my 11 month old son will nap well or not. His schedule varies by the day, but only by 30 minutes or so. IT is all based on when he wakes in the morning. Right now his current schedule (on average) looks like this: 7:30 wake and breakfast10 nap12 lunch2:30 nap4 snack6:30 dinner8 bedtimeUntil about 2 weeks ago it was working really well. He was spending 10-15 minutes of his naptime playing prior to sleeping, but then he would happily go right to sleep. If I was going to have a nap problem it was always with the afternoon nap…so for the last two weeks, after several days of playing through the entire second nap and then being a fussbox for the rest of the day, I started experimenting with the waketime. I tried moving the afternoon waketime back to 2.15 hours, extending it to 2.45 and even 3 hours without any success. I do not know what to do. I hate my afternoons now and for a while I did enjoy them. Foster has never been much of a sleepy baby, but I have been able to get him on a fairly regular schedule by listening to a whole lot of crying and locking myself clear on the opposite side of the house. I always feel like such a bad mom when I turn off the monitor and shut the bedroom door, and turn up the TV to drown out the fussing. It makes me want to throw things across the room and use language I shouldn't use! I have read all of your posts on dropping naps, and he seems too young to be ready to drop the 2nd nap. I am not sure what to do and just need some suggestions. Maybe tomorrow I will try giving him his lunch early around 11:30 and just keep him up? Then try to just give one nap? I don't know. I just worry about him being overtired and then never napping! Help! I am about to lose my mind!!!Thanks for all your help. You are such a shining beacon for we seafarers!Courtney

  20. Plowmanators
    June 28, 2012 / 4:19 AM

    Courtney, have you tried doing just two hours of waketime? typically at that age, they will do two hours awake, two hour nap, two hours awake, two hours nap, then awake until bedtime.

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