When your baby drops day sleep: How to navigate the nap cycle

Considering cutting down naptime to set your baby up for a better overnight sleep?

In the battle to get your baby to sleep, parents can be forgiven for trying every trick in the book for some shuteye.

You might even think that reducing naps during the day will prepare your child for a dreamy night of uninterrupted, blissful sleep.

But starving your child of day sleep in the hope that they’ll be exhausted come night time is far from an ideal sleep strategy – and it can even be detrimental to your little one.

Babies and toddlers need quality rest to assist their healthy development and wellbeing – and this includes nap time. In fact, young children rely on day sleep to help set the standard for their overnight sleep.

But if naps are so important, how do you navigate them – especially as your child’s nap time is likely to evolve as they grow?

The best place to start is by first taking the time to appreciate exactly why napping is natural for your child to thrive.

Why do babies need to nap?

Do you remember holding your newborn baby? No matter what the age your child is currently, you’ve probably been astounded by how much they have grown and developed in a relatively short period of time!

Consider all the changes their body has been through and everything they’ve since soaked up like a sponge – they growing, developing and changing never ends!

Naps help to meet children’s sleep needs, which supports optimal sleep health – and sleep health plays a pivotal role in your child’s learning, growth and development.

How much should my child be napping?

It might not be exactly what you want to hear, but it’s important to know: Every child is different!

While some children will sleep longer overnight; others might have shorter night stints but longer day time sleeps. Either way, the total sleep time spent in a 24 hour period is generally around about the same for each child, but it largely depends on the child’s age.

For example, babies aged 6 to 12 months usually require an average of 14 hours’ total sleep in a 24-hour period, whereas toddlers aged 1 to 3 years usually need 13 to 15 hours sleep – including a nap or two.

If your child naps a little more or less than average, don’t stress – that’s completely normal. But if you have concerns, you will often be able to tell whether your little one needs more sleep by their mood. Are they grizzly when they wake up, or are do they appear to be content when they’re awake?

Keep in mind that naps should continue to be an essential part of your child’s daily routine, right up until they’re aged two to three and a half years old.

What if my child drops a nap on their own?

As children get older, it’s quite common for them to sleep for longer periods overnight and to start to reduce daytime naps. By the time your baby becomes a toddler, they’re likely on two naps per day – but as they grow they might even drop their morning nap.

To navigate the nap cycle as best for the needs of your individual child, calculate the total amount of sleep they receive during a 24-hour period and assess whether they’re receiving a satisfying amount of rest for their age and development needs.

Try using a Glow Dreaming unit every time you put your child down to sleep – whether it’s during the day or for the (fingers crossed) big overnight sleep.