In this article we’ll discuss why I wait until 6 weeks (5-6kg) before moving to a nap routine. The general timelines when most babies/children will drop naps and all the things you can do to help them transition to different nap routines.
I don’t recommend a rigid nap schedule in the first 6 weeks
In the Dr Golly Sleep Program I have routines based on age – there are multiple options to suit your family.
I don’t recommend any routine until 6 weeks (5-6 kg) until then your baby will sleep in a 24 hour feeding cycle every 3-4 hours. But these cycles shouldn’t be rigid, if you’re establishing breastfeeding there will be times of intense “cluster feedings” as your baby bolsters your breastmilk supply for various growth sports.
If your baby is regularly feeding less than 3-4 hour cycles in the first 6 weeks I always recommend investigating what could be driving this – there are many reasons, in my experience inadequate winding is number 1!
General baby & toddler nap guidelines:
- From 6 weeks to 6 months, babies usually have 3 naps.
- Between 6-8 months old, babies usually drop down to 2 naps. The morning nap is the one that drops here.
- Between 15-18 months old, babies usually drop down to 1 nap and we consolidate the lunch nap.
- Around 2.5-3 years old, naps drop altogether. Most toddlers will gradually reduce the nap first, before dropping it completely.
Signs your baby is ready to drop their third daytime sleep
Your baby will give you a few signs they ready to stop napping or drop a particular nap – these along with the general timelines for most other baby/children their age act as a good guide.
- Nighttime sleep is disrupted – suddenly waking frequently overnight, particularly between the hours of 1-3am
- Taking longer to fall asleep at night
- Fighting their daytime nap / the afternoon nap / catnap consistently for more than 1 week
My baby was previously falling asleep without a problem – what happened?
If your baby who previously fell asleep without a worry is suddenly fighting naps and can no longer fall asleep easily or has difficulty falling asleep during the day or in the evening:
…and they are not in the average window for when babies traditionally drop their naps…
I always like to investigate WHY this might be happening:
- is your child going through some major developmental milestones like learning to roll/unswaddling?
- has their poo changed (is this a sign of intolerance)?
- Has their diet changed significantly or yours as a breastfeeding mother that might be causing discomfort?
- Are they hungry?
- Are they on an age appropriate daytime sleep?
- Are they overtired?
What to do instead of naptime?
During transitional phases replacing nap time with Quiet time for your baby is ideal.
Quiet rest time could include going for a walk facing out in the carrier or pram, reading books, cooking dinner together (baby in carrier or in rocker) etc.