Monday, March 15, 2010

Dropping the Morning Nap

Our pediatrician told me that children are generally ready to drop the morning nap around 15 months, but the age varies from child to child – as with most things.  My nephew went to 1 nap at 11 months, and I’ve heard of 2 year olds still taking 2 naps.  Henry is 14 1/2 months and in transition between 2 naps and 1 nap.  

Around Christmas last year I mentioned on BITW that 12-month-old Henry was transitioning to 1 nap without much drama.  I jinxed it.  For a week leading up to Christmas, his naps were inconsistent and he fought his afternoon naps.  Due to my school-nerd ways, I remembered reading that protesting the afternoon nap is a telltale sign that baby is ready to transition to 1 nap.  The first transition day we tried one nap, he awoke at 7:30, took 1 nap from 11-1:30, was generally pleasant all day and went to bed at 7:30.  Unfortunately, our easy-going happy baby disappeared after that.  For the next 2 months, Henry was cranky, whiny, clingy, had little appetite and was generally difficult.  I spent many hours on the toilet, lying awake in bed, driving the car, and staring blankly out the window thinking about why this was happening.   

After 2 months of inconsistent napping, I re-evaluated my decision to transition Henry to 1 nap.  I re-read the Weisbluth and Ferber books.  My reading comprehension is poor and I knew there was a good chance I was wrong about the “telltale signs.”  Upon re-reading the books I decided that Henry wasn’t ready to transition to 1 nap.  It was no coincidence that his chipper personality disappeared around the same time we changed his schedule.  I put him back on his old 2-nap schedule, and he magically returned to our happy go-lucky son.  I think that Henry’s inconsistent napping the week before Christmas was a result of having family in town, which meant he was off schedule and sleeping in places other than his own crib.  After the New Year he had a terrible cold for 2 weeks, which he passed to me – likely through one of his boogery slobbery kisses. 

The books talk about parent-led parenting and baby-led parenting, and I think most of us fall in the realm between these two extremes.  Before I sleep trained Henry, I charted his sleep patterns and then stuck firmly to the patterns he exhibited.  I generally don’t push him to do things before he is ready.  If we try something a few times and he’s clearly not interested or upset, I let it pass and return to it a few days or weeks later.  This philosophy may stem from the fact that we started solid foods on the early side (4 months), and I discovered his dairy allergy around 5 months (with the OK from the pediatrician).  I always wonder if he would’ve exhibited an allergy had I held off on dairy until 8 months (the book-recommended time).   

Everyone told me that the 1 nap transition is hard, and he would eventually get the hang of it.  They were right.  Henry’s schedule now entails taking 2 naps for 3 days and 1 nap the 4th day.  This schedule depends on what time he wakes in the mornings.  If he wakes before 7:30, he has 2 naps, but if he wakes after 7:30, he takes 1 nap.  We will probably stick to this schedule for another month or two before he’s truly ready to quit the morning nap. 

During the failed transition, per Dr. Weisbluth’s advice, I attempted to gradually push Henry’s morning nap later and later.  Through experimenting, I learned that Henry likes to take his one nap earlier than most kids (generally parents split the day evenly with a nap from around 12-2).

When Henry was a newborn I avoided experimentation and change with sleep schedules, feedings, etc.  But after a few experiments with varied schedules, foods, etc., I’ve learned that he’s going to be OK.  And a little short-term experimenting can have long-term benefits.  


  1. I too have a son named Henry born 4/6/10 -- we recently transitioned him away from his morning nap and it has gone well.


  2. I have a 16 months old baby and I was wondering the same thing is he really ready to quit his morning nap? yesteday was the first day without the morning nap he was cranky for lunch and didnt eat much he took his afternoon nap as usual but woke up at 4 am my husband tried to put him back to sleep with no success he finally brought him to bed with us he stayed awake till around 7!!! i wonder if that happend because of the change or it was just a coincidence!