You're finally in a great place: baby is sleeping through the night, his/her schedule during the day is pretty predictable, and you just feel comfortable with everything. But just like that, just when you thought you knew exactly how your child's sleep schedule was going, it changed! What happened?!
More than likely, your baby just grew up! As babies get older, their cycles (eat, awake, sleep) will change. This is why it is so important to make sure your child's schedule is flexible and not dependent on a specific time. Hopefully you're used to the way the schedule ebbs and flows, and you'll see how the cycle is changing. But if you don't, just remember, it needs to!
One of the biggest changes that will happen is your baby will need to drop a nap. Even though you may be used to watching your baby change his/her schedule, sometimes it can be extremely difficult to figure out if they really need to drop a nap. But, they have to go from 5-6 naps a day to two within just a year. So it just has to happen! After a year, they will go down to one, and eventually they will go to zero! Isn't it crazy how quickly things change?
So, how can you tell if they are ready to drop a nap?
I know that sounds like a no-brainer, but I'm serious; it's amazing how we can get so focused on the schedule and forget that our baby is just a human being with changing needs. Don't forget to pay attention to your child's cues. If they are consistently having a hard time going down for a particular nap, check his/her age and see if it makes sense to drop that particular nap. Just remember to be flexible so you can see these changes more easily.
Test It Out
If you're not sure if a nap can be dropped, test it out. See how your baby does if you skip a particular nap. If he's just as happy as he should be, try it the next day. If it makes sense, drop the nap. If your baby HATES the change, he's probably not ready quite yet--keep the nap!
If your baby did well dropping the nap, make sure the rest of her schedule shifts into a new schedule. Your baby still needs a certain amount of sleep, and might need to take longer naps during the naps that stayed. Account for this. If you were previously on a 2.5-4 hour schedule, it is now okay to go longer than the 4 hours between each cycle, and your cycles may be changing to include two feeding before a nap.
For example, when your baby goes from two naps to one, she may now wake up and eat, play, then eat lunch, then take a nap. This would take you past four hours between cycles, and that's okay. It's all perfectly normal so don't freak out!
Figuring out if you should drop a nap or not can totally suck. BUT, it's only one small issue, and you'll quickly figure it out! You'll get settled into your new schedule quickly and forget how hard it was...well, until your baby decides to change the schedule again. ;)
- Mama Jackie
*Sleep is essential. We need sleep to function, to take care of our children, to keep up on every single task life throws at us, to keep our sanity. Are you getting your eight hours or do you have a baby who is keeping you up? Let’s remedy that! In the “Rested Mamas are Happy Mamas” series of our blog, sleep expert Jackie calms all of your sleep woes. Have a question or problem that needs fixing? Comment on the series and Jackie will address your specific issue!*Featured Image PC: @_ashley_noel_