Handled well these nap transitions can actually have a really positive effect on your Little One’s nighttime sleep, but if you’re not careful they can cause chronic overtiredness, meaning that you could be dealing with…
- Nap resistance
- Shorter naps
- Bedtime battles
- Frequent night wakes
- Really early wake ups
All from dropping a nap?! Essentially yes but it’s important to remember that whilst your Little One is going through this stage, they will also be going through a whole load of other stuff…development leaps, big changes, growth spurts, teething, separation anxiety…which can also have an impact.
Health Professionals (not all of them, there are some amazing ones!) and most baby books will tell you that by a certain age your Little One should be dropping a nap. Remember that this information would also depend on how much quality night Sleep said Little One is getting (which according to the books and professionals should probably be sleeping through, dropped all feeds and ‘self settling’ by now) All Little Ones are different, aware their experiences and their needs. It is better to look at an age range and look at your Little One’s sleep pattern.
When it is time to drop a nap there are things that you can do to make the whole process less painful, and have them come out the other side sleeping well.
- Don’t be rigid in your routine ~ you need to be flexible. It can be a big shock to the system for a Little One to just drop a nap outright. Some days they will still need the extra nap and other days they won’t, it’s important to respond to this. It’s hard to plan and can really throw you, not knowing where you are…but in the long run it will make it so much easier.
- Bring bedtime forward ~ prevent evening adrenalin surges. Very often people just leave bedtime at the same time, but this can have a big impact on how overtired your Little One gets. By either bringing bedtime forward or giving a little catnap, this can prevent adrenalin surges that cause wake ups during the night
- Be prepared to extend naps ~ it’s an investment. If Little Ones have already started to get overtired, are in a development leap or are teething, they may find it difficult to go past one sleep cycle. Don’t take this that it’s all they need! If they’ve just dropped a nap, they need longer naps than a cycle to bridge the gap! Sometimes all they need is a cuddle to go back into a deeper sleep and have a decent length nap (other times they may just want to nap on you! If you are available for them to do this then do, it’s just a stage and will make it easier once they’ve transitioned)
- Use a sleep diary to keep a check on sleep patterns. It’s so much easier to work out what on Earth is going on if you can actually see it, rather than try and remember with your tired brain!
- Take each day as it comes and don’t beat yourself up if it goes to pot, just catch up the next day
Remember that although this is a tricky time, it is a stage and as long as you react to what your Little One needs, easier sleep is not too far away! In the meantime, here are 3 things to remember that will keep you sane (well slightly saner anyway!)
- Little Ones’ sleep is not logical and will not always make sense…don’t try and make sense of it, it will drive you round the bend. Just go with it
- There is often something more going on underneath the surface, so it’s important to always look at why. For example, your Little One might suddenly need a nap much sooner than before because they are going through a growth spurt
- There are times when they don’t seem tired, when actually they are completely the opposite…our old friend adrenalin is playing a part in keeping our overtired Little One WIDE AWAKE, when they desperately need sleep
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