Dropping your Baby's Nap - When and How to do it

Before dropping a nap be sure to take a look at Dropping A Nap - The Facts. You can click on each nap title below to learn more info about that particular nap.

Average Age Naps are Dropped
Average Age Dropped
From 4 to 3 naps
3-5 months
From 3 to 2 naps
6-9 months
From 2 to 1 naps
14-18 months
From 1 to 0 naps
3-4 years (is often dropped at 2 years of age, but is usually still needed for optimum development and a happy mood)
The last nap of the day is often a catnap (super short) before it is dropped for good. These nap times are averages—your child may drop slightly
sooner or keep a nap slightly longer.

Fourth Nap (from 4 naps to 3 naps)
This nap is often dropped when baby transitions to a 4 hours schedule (often occurs around 4-5 months). If this nap is dropped before you move to a 4 hour schedule then you would most likely be dropping the last nap of the day or the one between the last two feedings of the day (any feeding or nap after 7 or 8 pm I consider a night feeding or part of night sleep). When this nap is dropped you may need to make the last two feedings of the day and bedtime a bit earlier until baby gets used to being awake for so long.

Signs the fourth nap may need to be dropped:
  • Baby is not falling asleep for evening nap. This assumes that baby was falling asleep for the evening nap and now suddenly isn't. Not falling asleep during this nap is different than simply being fussy during this nap time which many young babies are. Around 4 months when this nap is usually dropped most babies who normally sleep well in their beds will play in their beds when they are not able to fall asleep for this nap rather than cry and fuss which may be the case with a younger baby that is simply fussy in the evenings but really needs sleep at this time.
  • Baby is having a hard time falling asleep at bedtime or bedtime is having to be moved later and later.
  • Baby is taking a shorter than usual nap.
  • Baby is ready for a 4 hour eat/activity/sleep schedule.
  • Baby is suddenly having night time awakenings and isn't hungry at this time.
How to drop the fourth nap:
  • Move to a 4 hour eat/activity/sleep schedule.
  • Wean baby down to a 30-45 minute nap and then drop it cold turkey.
  • Drop nap cold turkey. You will most likely need to move bedtime and the last two feedings of the day closer together.

Evening Nap (from 3 naps to 2 naps)
For many babies this nap is always short (around 45 minutes) so dropping it is a little bit easier than dropping others. Just like any other nap, baby may have a transitional period for a short time after this nap is dropped. He will most likely need an earlier bedtime for a while that you can slowly move later as he gets used to being awake for a longer period of time. Moving the other two naps to slightly later times sometimes helps with this transition too.

Signs the evening nap may need to be dropped:
  • Baby is not falling asleep for evening nap.
  • Baby is having a hard time falling asleep at bedtime or bedtime is having to be moved later and later.
  • Baby is taking a shorter than usual nap.
  • Baby is suddenly having night time awakenings that don't seem to be related to hunger.
How to drop the evening nap:
  • Drop it cold turkey.
  • Have baby take it some days and not other days for a while depending on how tired he is. Some people will have baby take a nap on the days his first two naps weren't very good and not have him take a nap on the days his first two naps were good. Personally, I prefer to drop the nap once it is down to a short length (if it wasn't short already) and then just put baby to bed earlier if he seems more tired that day. Adding in a nap that isn't usually there may end up causing problems with night time awakenings and early morning awakenings, but that might not be the case with your baby.
  • If this nap is not already a short nap, you may want to wean baby from it first before completely dropping it.

Morning Nap (from 2 naps to 1 nap)
Once the morning nap is dropped, you will most likely need to move the afternoon nap, lunchtime and bedtime to an earlier time. This nap (going from a 7 am wakeup) often starts anywhere from 11 am and moves closer to 1 pm over time. Over time the afternoon nap and/or bedtime may move a bit later. The afternoon nap length will most likely increase though this is not always the case. If the afternoon nap does end up increasing in length, it sometimes takes several days to do so and may decrease in length again as baby gets older. Before dropping this nap, make sure you first look over the post Morning Nap to make sure you don't simply need to readjust this nap rather than drop it.

Signs the morning nap may need to be dropped:
  • Baby is not falling asleep for morning nap and/or
  • Baby is not falling asleep for afternoon nap (especially when morning nap is long)
  • Waketimes before and after naps have increased so much that bedtime is being moved too late.
  • Baby is taking shorter naps than usual.
How to drop the morning nap:
  • Slowly decrease how long baby sleeps in the morning until they no longer sleep in the morning at all.
  • Drop it cold turkey. Not suggested unless you want a really cranky baby (!) or the nap is already really short.
  • Drop the afternoon nap first and instead have baby take a long morning nap that you move later (15 minutes or so) every few days. The morning nap turns into an afternoon nap eventually. If you do this, you will need a super early bedtime for sure. This is method will work out better for those babies who love sleeping in the morning and would take a 3 hour nap then if you let them! For most babies this isn't the best method.
  • Some people will give one nap one day and two naps another day depending one how tired their child is. Whether or not this works or just makes things harder and more confusing depends on you and your baby. I've never liked doing this, but this seems to work best for some people.

Afternoon Nap (from 1 nap to no nap)
This nap should be the last one to go. Some children seem to want to hold onto this nap forever if mom or dad doesn't force it to be dropped. The dropping of this nap often causes the greatest transitional time for children (and mom) but can be reduced if you wean rather than simply drop this nap. An earlier bedtime after this nap is dropped is a must.

Signs the afternoon nap may need to be dropped:
  • Baby is not falling asleep well at bedtime.
  • Baby is not falling asleep during this nap
How to drop the afternoon nap:
  • You can drop it cold turkey.
  • You can wean from this nap and then drop it (highly suggested).
  • Some parents will put their child in bed with books for a while and some days he will sleep and others he won't. Once he stops sleeping most days they will do a quiet time somewhere else instead. If you have ever had your child miss a nap when he has been resting in his bed rather than playing outside his bed you know that a bed is a much more relaxing place to miss a nap which is why it is a good place to be when weaning from the afternoon nap. This method of weaning may take up to a year to do.

Related Posts:
Dropping A Nap - The Facts
Dropping a Nap - The Aftermath
No More Naps - What Next?

Controlling Nap Lengths
Short Naps
Won't Fall Asleep At Sleep Times - Plays, Cries, Or Does Both
Not So Obvious Naps With Very Obvious Consequences


  1. I can't seem to get my 10 month old to drop his evening nap. Even if I try, he ends up falling asleep in the high chair LATER than when his evening nap usually is, giving him a second wind and a very late bedtime. (10:30 most nights!) Is there any way to manipulate this?

  2. Krissy,
    First off, make sure he really needs to drop this nap. I'm guessing you have already done this, but thought I'd double check.

    To help him with this, I'd do a super early bedtime.. I'd also do activities that are fun during his old nap time and the period after this time when he is probably going to be really sleepy. Take him to the park, take him on a walk if he wont' fall asleep (especially if he gets cranky during this time). I'd even consider pushing dinner forward for a bit so that he isn't so tired and possibly cranky during this time. After several days he should get used to not sleeping at this time. It can be pretty rough at first though bc he might get really cranky as he makes the transition. You might also want to consider letting him have the evening nap but shortening it every few days. Good luck!

  3. Is 14 weeks to early to drop the 4th nap? She usually only sleeps 30 minutes tops when I put her down and she always fights going to sleep for this nap but not her other 3 naps. She isn't ready for a 4 hours schedule yet but is going 3 1/2 hrs between feeds. She eats around 5:00 then I keep her up and feed her at 7:30 and then put her to bed. Any thoughts? She just seems too young to drop it in my opinion. She sleeps well at night bedtime at 8:00, df at 10:30 and then sleeps until 7:30 a.m. the next morning.

  4. Mandy Zierenberg,
    What does her normal sleep and wake routine look like so I can get an idea of waketimes etc.


  5. How are we supposed to drop the third nap if our daughter only sleeps X amount of hours at night? it seems like we are always going to have the third nap if naptime decreases as wake time increases.

    1. Lauren, if she will only sleep, say 10 hours at night, you will just need to drop it later. Probably all the naps will dropped a little later than average if she is an average sleeper. You may end up being able to drop it at an "average" time if she extends out her other two naps to make up for less sleep at night.

      OK, now as I read what you said again, I think I might have misunderstood what you were asking the first time I read it. But I'll leave the info there just in case.

      As baby's waketime increases, you'll end up extending the routine out. So you might start off with EASY every 3 hours but go to EASY every about 4 hours. At that point you'll end up not really going by easy any more but three feeds a day with 1-2 snacks and then a couple naps that fit around those times and waketimes. Look over the routine posts for more on this.

  6. you were right with what you said at first. i guess it might just take us a bit longer to drop that nap - it is such a battle sometimes!! i guess i just dont see that happening ANY time soon because when i look at the average nap times it looks like they will decrease which wont help our little one get to the end of the day any easier. so heres where we are at. she is 8 mo old and has severe reflux so is highly sensitive in multiple ways. she is a pretty good sleeper - though we have had to work to get her there. she has a waketime of 2 hr and 45 min. she can sometimes go past that if we have moved her towards her nap and its on her own terms but she will sometimes have a meltdown if we try to push her past that window. she wakes in the morning around 7 am and then naps from 9:45 to 11:15. (we have had to start controlling naps bc she will just continue sleeping if we let her and it messes with the rest of her sleep, particularly nighttime. should we be doing this? we used to just let her sleep but when we realized that she only sleeps 10-11 hrs at night no matter what we thought it might be better to control nap lengths for her to sleep a bit more at night.) she then naps again from 2-3:30 and then her third nap is from 6:15-6:45 and asleep for bedtime by 8:15/8:30. (we have tried earlier bedtime but she seems to have a lot of trouble staying asleep in the later morning.) we know that she can sleep longer during both naps which could help her get rid of the third nap potentially - however if that messes with nighttime sleeping then i dont think she could make it to 7 am and would be waking earlier which would then just continue to mess everything up. :( any thoughts for us? thanks for your insight! :)

  7. Okay so she is doing okay w staying awake 3 hrs but we still cant figure out how to move things around.

    1. If a nap that goes really long disrupts other naps and night sleep, then I'd say you are fine to wake baby up for it.

      With early morning wakings, if you haven't tried not responding to her until desired waketime (or something close) then that is something you might want to do.

      Unfortunately, a lot of the time you won't know exactly what will happen until you try it. You make your best bet and do it and hope for the best.

      First decide if there is even anything that needs changing. Yes, you are on 3 naps but it seems like you have been doing ok on that. Is it just that you'd like to have only 2 naps for convenience or that you feel like she should be moving on or are there issues. If you want to drop it, then I'd say go ahead and do it, let those two naps extend out and put her to bed a bit early if needed. Leave her in the am when she wakes until desired wake time. Keep a log of those morning wakings. Like you've said, some kids will wake up earlier when put to bed early. My youngest is like this, but generally he only wakes up like 15 minutes early so it is far better to keep with the early bedtime when needed. You have to give the routine time to work out the kinks and have baby get used to things too.


  8. My daughter is 7 months old, she sleeps 12.5 hours at night which hasn't changed by her morning nap which was 1:15-1:30 has shortened to 45 min to 1 hour. Her 2nd nap is still the same at about 1:30 or so (although it could go longer because I wake her from it at times). Her 3rd nap is getting tricky, sometimes only time for 20 minutes to not mess with BT and she is getting fussier. I don't think that her last wake time could be 4 hours and I would be ok with pushing up BT by 1/2 hour. My questions is, do you think this is a sign the 3rd nap is ready to be dropped and if so do you think her 1st nap would go back to being longer again?

  9. Replies
    1. Chelsea,
      If you can't fit the last nap in there without moving bedtime much later (30 minutes is ok--sometimes there is a transition period where you'll be a bit later with bedtime just don't make it too much later) then I would drop that nap. I would stop shortening the second nap and put her to bed for an early bedtime. You might want to look over the waketime length post to make sure waketimes aren't too much (or too little). By adjusting the waketimes a bit, you might have luck extending out the naps. First waketime in the am may need to be shortened or lengthened to extend. It is also possible that night sleep would need to decrease a little for the nap to extend. 4 hours sounds a bit long to me at this age. Write down your routine with nap and their lengths and waketimes lengths and compare it to averages and see where you are at. You don't need to be exactly where the 'average' is, but it'll help give you an idea if you are way off.


  10. I have a question if you have time. My 3.5 month old daughter is sort of ready to drop her 4th nap, but somedays yes and somedays no so then our schedule gets thrown off as you can imagine. She will still only stay up about 80 mins total (wish it was longer) but it is what it is. If we have days she does NOT take a 4th nap we have to put her to bed by 7 p.m. and then she is up at 7 a.m. but if she takes one she can do a 7:15/30 bedtime and then wakes up at that time too in the morning. It's hard as I like the days to be consistent for her. She clearly isn't ready for a 4 hour schedule, but sometimes really doesn't seem hungry at the 3 hr mark. She is formula fed. So I try to do 1-2 feeds/day 3.5 hours apart but it's just tricky.

    Right now here is her approx schedule:
    7:15 a.m. wake and feed
    8:30 a.m. nap (I'll let her go till 10:30 if she can)
    10:30 a.m feed
    11:50 nap (again I'll let her go till 1:50 if she can but she typically just does 1 two hour nap so if she did it in the morning this one is a bit shorter)
    1:30/2 p.m. feed (where the day can get a bit off depending on her naps)
    80 mins later down for a nap but only an hour. So sometimes she'll sleep till 4:30/45 and then she can make it to bedtime, but if she only goes till 3:45/4 - she needs a 4th cat nap - it can literally be 15 minutes sometimes.
    4:45 feed
    6:45 feed
    7:15 bedtime

    So based on the above any advice? Should I just make sure we start the day at 7 a.m. everyday for now just to get things moving as sometimes it's 7 and sometimes it's later - 7:15/30? Even if I have to wake her so she isn't getting 12 hours, oh well - at least the days are the same. I know you have said to move bedtime earlier when you are dropping a 4th nap, but again - some days she needs one so that is tricky. Ideally we'd love her to sleep 7:30 - 7:30 but I know we can adjust later once she is on a 2-3 nap/day plan right?

    ANother question - her 3rd nap is becoming shorter probably due to me letting her do a 2-hour nap. Should I wake her and just stick to 1.5 hours up, 1.5 hours down all day until she can do a 4 hour schedule?

    I'd love any advice. And I apologize if this is confusing.

  11. Hi, Rachel, I'm hoping very much that you can help me. My daughter is 14 months old and sleeps a solid ~11 hours at night from 7:30-6:30 (sometimes closer to 8-7). For months, she took naps at 10 and 2 (each one between 1:15 and 1:30 in length). Then around 10 months old began to resist her afternoon nap occasionally. It came to a point around a month ago (approx 13 mos. old) where she was missing her afternoon nap around 50% of the time, and half the time that she took it, it was a 45 minute nap. So basically, she was often getting a little over 2 hrs daytime sleep, often with ~7 hrs of waketime before bed.
    So, I started an experiment to see if she was ready for one nap a day. I gave a snack before to fill her tummy, and put her down around noon. After five days of one midday nap, she was such a mess that she was clearly not ready (she also couldn't get over the hump to lengthen that nap past an hour and a half)!
    Yesterday we went back to the old schedule, she took 1:30 at 10 AM, and 1:10 at 2:45, and went to bed easily from 8-7:15. However, this morning, she didn't fall asleep until 10:50, even though she was in her crib at 10:15. So, I'm at a loss because I think it will be really hard to get her down for a PM nap! I know she does best with a tight schedule, but if she doesn't nap until almost 11, is it best to actually get her up until noon and then hope she might take a long noon nap? Otherwise, I run the risk of this noon to 7 awake business again. Or, is it more important that she get two naps on as many days as possible, even if the schedule is less disciplined to get them?
    Thanks for your time and energy!

    1. Chayah.love,
      I think you'll get two naps if you either shorten the first nap and/or move the second nap out a bit so there is a longer waketime before it. What you are dealing with is common at this age and is often fixed by adjusting one/both of those things.


    2. My 14.5mo is having the same issue as above. I've been shortening am nap to1 hr (up by 11) but pm nap isn't happening until 2:30/3ish and takes 30-60min to fall asleep some days. :( I think we need to hang onto 2 naps for as long as possible bc she doesn't handle her sleep pressure well. She is sleeping for 2+hrs for her pm nap most days which pushes us until 5 which I wake her if it goes beyond bc she wakes bw 6:30/7 every single morning regardless of bedtime so I want her to get as much nighttime sleep as possible. Bedtime has moved a smidge later 7:30/8 when she gets 2 good naps. How does this sound? Could I tweak anything or take the plunge and work on 2-1 nap transition?

  12. My son is 10 1/2 mo and i booked him to go to nursery when he will be 1yo. He's on a 9-11am and 2-4pm nap routine. But of course at the nursery they only are at 1nap at 12.30pm. They assured me that babies adapt really well but i know how dangerously overactive he gets when tired. To prepare him,
    I was thinking delaying his morning nap by 20 to 30min increment every week as well as the afternoon one until morning becomes lunch time and afternoon one is close to bed routine. Then I'll drop that afternoon one with a earlier bed time until he's ready to go back to normal bed time. I'm so not happy about it, i was hoping to keep him on 2naps until he's ready himself.oh well! Will let you know how it goes

  13. Hi Rachel,

    First excuse my english as i am a french speaker.
    My 7 months daughter si taking short naps i.e. about 30 minutes to 45 minutes ( sometimes 1 hour if she has been fed just before going to sleep), three times a day. She usually sleeps about 10 to 12 Hours at night (i noticed its night is getting shorter and shorter (at 2 months, she was sleeping 12/13 hours and now She often sleeps 10.30 hours). She often fight for her last nap but I am afraid to drop it as she is already taking short naps.

  14. Hi! My 11-month-old has been resisting his second (2 pm) nap. And he seems to do real well when he only has one nap at around 11. I'm just concerned it's too early to drop the second nap? I would appreciate your help in this.

  15. Hi! My daughter is 4 months this weekend and her wake time is about 90-100 mins. I am trying to figure out the nap length for a 4 hour schedule... are the first two naps longer and the last one more of a catnap? She can go 12 hours between feeds so that has been 7-7. Thank you!