In Action: Dropping the 3rd Nap

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I have been working on dropping that third nap with Kaitlyn since the beginning of January. At the time, she was 8 months old (approaching 9). We have taken the weaning process approach to dropping this nap (see Dropping a Nap: A Weaning Process:

The nap is not fully dropped, but it is close.

First, I started to extend the time she was awake. She doesn’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 has moved back. Now, if she needs it, it starts at 6 PM. That makes it a short nap, but that is okay. It is just enough to get her through. Since I am breastfeeding, I like to make sure her lasts feeding of the day and first feeding of the next day aren’t too many hours apart.

Last week, she only took that last nap two of the seven nights. We are getting much closer to officially being done. With Brayden, 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 have done it with Kaitlyn has been very easy to accomplish. There are no nights of me walking around the house with her, trying to keep her happy. So although it has been about two months now, it has been an easy process for baby and parents. And at least baby is getting the extra sleep when she needs it.

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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. Jennifer
    April 10, 2008 / 2:38 PM

    Ugh, I am in the middle of this right now. Gabby is about ready to drop this nap. What you wrote about Kaitlyn almost exactly discribes where we are. We too were putting her down at 5pm…then later and later. Yesterday I thought I would see how she did on no nap becuase she had taken her 1-3pm very well. Well, it backfired..ugh. At 6:30pm she was DONE! Ha. I should have seen it coming, but for some reason her sleep cues are not showing themselves!! I will just hang in there. Thanks again for your blog. It is nice to know I am not alone!

  2. Plowmanators
    April 10, 2008 / 7:38 PM

    You are welcome! Good luck with the process.

  3. Justin...&...Andrea
    May 5, 2009 / 10:06 AM

    I was just wondering if I should be continuing to wake my 3 month baby girl from naps. Once she falls asleep she will sleep for around 2 hours…but that is because I always go in and wake her up to keep her on her schedule. Is she ready to move to a 3.5-4 hour if she isn’t waking from naps on her own?

  4. Plowmanators
    May 19, 2009 / 6:37 PM

    Andrea,You can move to a combo anywhere from 2.5-3.5 hour schedule for sure. Once she has dropped the dreamfeed, you can continue forward to extend the schedule. You can also have a couple of four hour intervals, you just don’t want to extend so much that you cut out a feeding in the day before you cut out the dreamfeed.

  5. Becky
    June 26, 2009 / 3:16 PM

    Help! My baby won't take naps. My pediatrician is unsympathetic and says that naps are more for mom anyway, but she's miserable without them!! I've tried CIO, she just cries all the way through naptime. We've tried the mobile, the pacifier, the swing, the rocking chair, music, dancing, the bouncer, the playpen, daddy's lap, mommy's lap, mommy and daddy's bed, etc. The only reliable naps we can count on is the one in the stroller during my morning walk and any time we run errands and she's in the car seat. I told myself I would never be one of those parents that wastes gas and sanity loading the baby into the car anytime she needed a nap but with such a miserable baby, you begin contemplating that option, but it's 100 degrees in North Florida right now, so if anyone can help, please do!!

  6. newmomma
    July 12, 2009 / 2:04 PM

    I need help too! I posted last week sometime and no one responded, but if anyone can help please do. I am thinking my 9 month old is ready to drop the 3rd nap. Sometimes she cries all the way through it. It is about 30 minutes long, however if she takes the nap she has a hard time going to sleep for bed later. She rolls around for about 30-45 mins before falling to sleep. I know your post said to skip the nap, but will my daughter not be confused because she has been doing the Eat/Wake/Sleep cycle since she was born. I am worried skipping this nap which will now be eat, wake, eat, sleep. She is on a 4 hour schedule, but I don't think I can go down to 3 feedings. What do I do? Any suggestions would be great!

  7. Plowmanators
    July 21, 2009 / 1:40 PM

    Becky,That is, I am sorry, ridiculous! Naps are not for mom. It is hard to give advice without your baby's age though. You might be trying too many different things without offering consistency. Can you let me know your baby's age? Also, do you follow babywise at all?

  8. Plowmanators
    July 21, 2009 / 1:42 PM

    newmomma, skip the nap. She will be fine…you have to move from the EWS cycle at some point, and this is that point. Try dropping the nap. Remember, she might need an earlier bedtime once you drop it.

  9. Laura
    January 22, 2010 / 7:17 AM

    Do you have a sample schedule after dropping the 3rd nap? If desired waketime is 7:15am, what time would be a good bedtime and 2nd nap time? DS is 7 1/2 mo now and I think weaning from 3rd nap. Thank you for your blog!

  10. Plowmanators
    February 4, 2010 / 7:15 PM

    Laura,Go to the sample schedules blog label to see schedules without a third nap.If you wake at 7:15, then I would say your day would look like this:7:15 wake9:15 nap11:15 wake1:15 nap3:15 wakeIn bed by 7:15.If he will stay up a little longer and/or sleep a little longer, that is fine.

  11. Kate + Zach
    December 30, 2010 / 8:59 PM

    Hi there! I have an 8 and a half month old (girl) who has been on a 3 hour schedule since she was born. Sleeping at night hasn't really ever been a problem. She has slept 7-7 since she was 12 weeks old. Now, naps are becoming an issue. They started out at 8am, 11am, and 2pm. And then she stayed awake afterwards (about 4 hours) until bedtime routine. Now, she seems to want to drop that 3rd nap and her naptimes are completely inconsisten now! Some mornings, she will go right down at 8am like she always has. Some mornings she won't fall asleep until 9 (which makes her morning nap only about an hour 🙁 I have tried keeping her awake longer and she doesn't sleep longer. Then, her 2nd/3rd naps are inconsistently switching off– sometimes she takes her only second nap at 11am, and sometimes she takes it at 1:30pm. It's so confusing! I don't want to mess up her schedule. She won't take a late nap at all, which means she is awake sometimes from 12/1pm to 6:30pm when she goes to sleep. What am I doing wrong? Thanks! Kate

  12. Kate + Zach
    December 30, 2010 / 9:08 PM

    I forgot to mention her naps range from 1.5-2 hours each.

  13. Plowmanators
    January 6, 2011 / 7:26 PM

    Kate, I would check out the post "5-8 month sleep disruptions" to see if any of the reasons listed there are the reason. I would try having her up for two hours, then down for two hours. So if she gets up at 7, try starting her nap at 9. Thens there will be another nap at 1.

  14. hunniebee530
    May 2, 2012 / 11:13 PM

    hi Val,my LO is a 8mo 3wk old and is also trying to drop the 3rd nap i think. this is our schedule..8:30 wake10 nap (usu 1.5-2.5hrs)12/12:30 wake3 nap (ONLY 45min)345 wake630 catnap (sometimes he does not sleep, just rests in his crib OR if he does sleep, then bedtime gets pushed to 9pm)830/9bedtimei would prefer him to go to bed at 8:30 or even 8pm. but if he takes the catnap then he won't sleep til 9. do you think i should just drop the third nap cold turkey? i think i would do that if his 2nd nap wasn't 45min long. but sometimes his 1st nap is 2.5 hours and so maybe i need to cut that nap short so that he will in fact sleep longer for his 2nd nap? i'm not sure what to do and i don't want him to be overtired. do you think i might be keeping him up too long between the first 2 naps? when he sleeps 2/2.5 hrs for his 1st nap, i think he can go 2.5hr awake but maybe he can't and so he's going down overtired for his 2nd nap?thanks so much for your help!

  15. Plowmanators
    May 16, 2012 / 11:23 PM

    I think your waketime between your first two naps is great. I think it should be closer to 1.5-2 hours between the morning nap and afternoon nap. No more than two hours.You can either shorten the catnap (I am not sure how long that is now) or just do cold turkey. I would say drop it, but maybe have it every third day at first if needed.

  16. Angela
    October 18, 2012 / 6:49 PM

    My daughter is 4.5 months and on a 4hr schedule-has always been a great 1.5-2hr napper for all three naps. But recently she's been not wanting to sleep for her second nap, I'm having to wake her after 2.5+ hours from her 1st nap, and again waking her from her 3rd nap. But that 2nd nap-Sometimes she's awake and content, sometimes she cries but she just won't sleep. Her awake times have been about 1.5 hrs before each nap. Any suggestions as to what I could do? I struggle with what to do after she misses the whole nap…feed her and put her down after little to no wake-time, keep her up, ??. She seems fairly content even after her missed nap….

  17. Anonymous
    March 30, 2014 / 10:53 PM

    Hi there! I have a question. My son is 5 months old. Just moved him to a 4 hour schedule about three days ago. He's not ready to fully drop the third nap but it is common for them to only want about 30-45 minutes for it? Also, depending how well his other two naps go, sometimes he's not having it AT ALL! Perfectly content to just not need it. Is this common? Is this ok? Being that he is on a 4 hour schedule when he takes the third nap he usually goes down at around 5pm and will wake up by 6 at the latest but doesn't need to eat again until 7:30. This obviously affects EWS cycle but it would defeat the purpose of of the 4 hour schedule if I add back in the feeding I got rid of. Basically, I'm asking if it is ok for EWS to look different at this time of day and not worry it's going to confuse him??? Thank you! I LOVE your blog!!!

    • Valerie Plowman
      April 3, 2014 / 2:16 AM

      Yes that is totally normal! Definitely nothing to worry about 🙂

  18. Jeremy Breedlove
    May 18, 2015 / 10:35 PM

    Help! DDs schedule (when she was a 3 napper) was 6 am w/u8/830 nap10 w/u1230 nap1:30 w/u4 nap4:30 w/u7:00 bedNow, she's refusing the 3rd nap, which leaves us with a huge wake time window. I've tried moving bedtime up but she *only* sleeps for 11 hrs regardless of the time we put her down, which means a 5 am wake up call if we put her to bed at 6. This then messes up the entire next day. Help help, please! Thank you!

  19. Valerie Plowman
    May 21, 2015 / 11:52 PM

    If she can't make it from waking from her last nap until bedtime, she isn't ready for two naps. So the job then becomes how do you get her to take a third nap?I would try working with that third waketime length. Start with what used to work and then add about 15 minutes. If that doesn't work, add 15 more.

  20. KatieB
    May 15, 2017 / 4:58 AM

    My 7 1/2 month old DD2 will need to drop her 3rd nap shortly (I think), but I'm not sure what that means for bedtime? Our day currently looks like this:615 wake up/bfeed810 nap 1 (her WT here has just increased by 5-10mins)950-10 wake/bfeed (I always wake her by 1015 if she's still sleeping)12-1210 nap 2 (once again, this WT has just increased by 5-10mins, and since doing that she has gone back to consistently sleeping for 1.5hrs – I never let her sleep past 2pm or the 4hr mark, whatever is earlier).130-2 wake/bfeed4-430 nap 3 (I've recently had to extend this WT by 10-15mins as she will NOT nap before 2hrs 30-35mins here, no matter what I try, but the problem is its pushing bedtime later and later, which is why I cap nap 2 no later than 2pm as well).430-5 wake/bfeed (normally only 25-40mins, and I wake her if she sleeps past 5 as I don't want bedtime being later than 8pm).720-750 bfeed730-8 bedtime (she needs 3hrs between the end of the last nap and bedtime. I've tried earlier and she wakes more in the second half of the night).She eats solids 3times a day as well. I wish I'd read about Babywise earlier. I wish I'd somehow managed to have a set bedtime, the same time every night, regardless of when her last nap ended, but for DD1 and now DD2, naps and bedtime have always just occurred at a specific time after the last nap, rather than at set times each day. Over time her day has become more consistent, and capping naps means I can get bedtime to be the same every night, but I am reluctant to wake her from every nap as she does like her sleep. I'm not convinced she's ready to drop her 3rd nap, but I am running out if hours in the day to squeeze everything in. She still goes down for nap 3 fine (IF its been 2hrs 30-35mins since last nap). Bedtime us still mostly fine after 3hrs of wake time, but I'm not interested in pushing this later than 8pm, so if/when I get to the point where I have to extend her WT before nap 3 or bedtime, I'm going to have to either: cap nap 3 after about 15mins; or start the day at 6am; or cap an earlier nap to give me a bit of extra time in the day. OR, I could just try dropping nap 3 all together??? What do you think? My concern is that because I don't have a set bedtime, does that mean she then has 5hrs 30 before bedtime? That seems like a LOT to me. And it would mean I still have a later bedtime than I was hoping. I was hoping that bedtime might be closer to 7pm once I dropped the 3rd nap, but if we're just supposed to skip it, now I'm not so sure??? I did actually try it the other day (because her 3rd nap would have occurred at 545pm, and I didn't want a 9pm bedtime), but I also thought 5 1/2hrs was too much, so I just put her to bed after 4hrs 45mins and she went straight to sleep (but woke often between 12-6am), so I wasn't to keen to try it two nights in a row. So I'm at a loss as how to play this out?I know I can get a bit more WT out of her before nap 1 and 2 quiet easily, but I've avoided that so far because she just naps longer (pushing bedtime even later); BUT if there was no 3rd nap to squeeze in, this wouldn't be a problem. Do you think its possible that I could possibly give her a bit more wake time before naps 1 & 2 instead, and still keep only 3hrs before bedtime? I haven't been able to get her to sleep longer than 10-11hrs overnight, and I was really hoping to start getting a 12hr night out of her. Although, I'm not going to try and push this too much, as she's been waking at 5-530am and not going back to sleep regardless of what I do, so if I have to keep the 8pm bedtime a while longer to avoid this, then I'm OK with that (I can cope with a 6am wake up, but nothing earlier – especially as its still pitch black until after 6).I hope that's enough info. How can I drop the 3rd nap and avoid 5 1/2hrs of awake time before bedtime? Katie

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