How will you know it is time to drop a nap?
Typically, they tend to resist taking the last nap of the day or seem unsettled during the last nap of the day. They might even start to sleep a shorter amount of time for that nap. All of the other naps could also be effected, causing them to be shorter in length. You may even notice he may have a hard time going to bed at your designated bedtime, making bedtime later than you would desire. For some babies, they might even start waking early in the mornings because they are getting to much daytime sleep.
Try Shortening the nap to a catnap first
If your baby is experiencing sleeping problems mention above, sometimes all you have to do is shorten the last nap of the day to a catnap. A catnap is a nap that is usually very brief, about 30-45 minutes in length. If, however, shortening the last nap to a catnap does not resolve the other nap lengths or help bedtime, then you know it is time to drop the last nap of the day.
Dropping the 4th Nap
Around what age will they drop the 4th nap? Between 4-5 months
It is easy to drop the 4th nap when you move from a 3 hour schedule to a 3.5/4 hour schedule. Another way to drop the 4th nap is to just keep your baby awake during that 4th nap, but you might have to put your baby to bed early for a few nights or weeks until they are adjusted to staying up longer at night before bedtime.
With my son, I dropped the 4th nap when I moved from a 3 hour schedule to a 4 hour schedule at 4 months of age.
My son’s schedule @3 months on a 3 hour schedule(4 naps):
6:30-7:15 Cat Nap
9:00-10:30 Nap/ Nighttime sleep
10:30 Feed & Put right back to Bed for nighttime sleep
My son’s schedule @4 months on a 3.5/4 hour schedule (3 naps):
4:30-6:30 Nap *** He stopped taking a good nap here at around 20 weeks old so I began to shorten it to a cat nap
9:15/ 9:30 Bed
With my twin daughters, I dropped the the 4th nap when I move from a 3 hour schedule to a 3.5 hour schedule. There was about a week or two when I had to put the twins to bed around 6/6:30pm instead of the desired 6:45pm/7pm when I dropped the 4th nap. Gradually I started to stretch out their bedtime back to 6:45/7pm as they learned to stay awake longer at night.
Twin’s schedule @ 4 months on a 3 hour schedule (4 naps):
Twins’ Schedule @5 months on a 3.5 hour schedule (3 naps):
10:30 Nurse & Solids
4:45 Nurse & Solids
6:45 Anna Bedtime, 7:00 Molly Bedtime
Dropping the 3rd Nap
Around what age will they drop the 3rd nap? Between 6-8 months of age
Typically around 6-8 months, you will find that your baby will be able to stay awake longer in the evenings. Your baby will most likely be on a 4 hour schedule at this point and will not longer require the 3rd nap (usually a cat nap by this time). I have found that around 6-8 months of age, babies tend to fall into a 2-3-4 napping schedule. This is when the baby is awake for 2 hours in the morning and then nap, awakes for 3 hours in the afternoon and then naps, and then awake for 4 hours in the evening before going to bed. For more information on a 2-3-4 napping schedule, please see my post 2-3-4 napping schedule for older babies: https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/2-3-4-nap-schedule-for-older-babies/
My son Cooper dropped the 3rd nap at 6 months of age. I just decided that he did not need that nap any longer because it was effecting his bedtime. He need a longer wake time before bedtime and I did not want to put him to bed any later than 8pm. So I just dropped the catnap cold turkey. It took about a week or two of distracting him and helping him stay awake the last hour before bedtime, but he eventually he was able to stay awake happily until bedtime without the catnap.
Cooper’s Schedule @5 months (3 naps)
7:00 Feed (milk & solids)
11:00 Feed (milk & solids)
1:00- 3:00 Nap
3:00 Feed (milk only)
5:00-5:45 Cat Nap
5:45 Feed (solids only)
7:45 Feed (milk only)
Cooper’s Schedule @6 months (2 naps)
7:00 milk & solids
11:30 milk & solids
6:30 bath & milk
My twins dropped the 3rd nap at 6 months of age. I knew they needed to drop the catnap because they started to refuse to sleep for the 3rd nap and if they did take the 3rd nap, they would stay awake longer at night before bedtime. I did not drop the catnap cold turkey with them though. I started trying to keep them awake until bedtime without a catnap. Some nights they could make it to bedtime without the 3rd nap and other nights they could not skip the catnap and would need to take it. Anna dropped the catnap much quicker than Molly. On some nights that they dropped the catnap, they had to go to bed earlier than 7pm, which is their normal bedtime. Even now at almost 8 months old, Molly still needs to go to bed earlier, around 6:30pm and Anna can make it to 7/7:30pm.
Twin’s Schedule @first half of 6 Months
7:00 Nurse & Solids
11:00 Nurse & Solids
5:00- 5:30 Nap
5:30 Nurse & Solids
7:30 Nurse & Bed
Twin’s Schedule @Second half of 6 months
9:00/9:15- 11:00 Nap (Molly goes down for a nap sooner than Anna)
1:15/1:30- 3:30 Nap (Molly goes down for a nap sooner than Anna)
6:30 Molly Bottle, Followed by Bed
7:00 Anna Nurse, Followed by Bed
Dropping the Second Nap
Around what age will they drop the 2nd nap? Typically between 15-18 months of age, but for some it could be as early as 12 months old.
I wrote a long post about moving from two naps a day to only one nap a day. Please read that post to get more information about dropping the second nap. https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/12/14/transition-from-two-naps-to-one-nap/
With both my son Cooper and my twin daughters, I found that I had to shorten the morning nap in order for them to be tired enough to still take a good afternoon nap. If my kids took a longer nap 1.5-2 hours in the morning, the afternoon nap started became shorter or they required a longer wake time in order to go to sleep for their second nap (making the second nap too late in the day and thus effecting bedtime). I shortened the morning nap to 1 hour and the afternoon nap was preserved this way and was usually about 1.5-2 hours in length.