How to Drop a Day Sleep

How to Drop a Day Sleep

How to drop a day sleep is a question that comes up for lots of parents. Just as you think you have got on top of your baby’s sleep routine, suddenly you will find that they change the game plan. As your little one gets older, their need for day sleeps become less and so you will find that fitting all the day sleeps into the day with longer awake times, mean that bedtime is suddenly at 10pm.

We call these shifts in day sleep routine CUSP ages and interestingly it happens at very specific ages:

  • At 9 months your baby will drop from 3 to 2 day sleeps
  • At 12-14 months your baby will drop to 1 day sleep
  • Later to no day sleeps at all 

How do you know when your baby wants to drop a day sleep?

There are four tell-tale signs that its time to drop a day sleep at about these ages:

  1. Your baby/toddler is suddenly VERY hard to settle to sleep for day sleeps
  2. Your baby/toddler starts to fight bedtime and it gets later and later because their last sleep of the day goes on too late
  3. Your baby/toddler starts to wake VERY early – like 4am – and won’t go back to sleep
  4. Your baby/toddler wakes at night and stays awake for a long period

When your baby shows one or more of these signs, its may well be time to drop a sleep.

How to drop a day sleep

Every age can be done a similar way – incrementally. So lets look at dropping from two to one day sleep: At around a 12-14 months your baby will be at the right age to drop down from two to one day sleep.

  1. Move the morning sleep later – to 10am and the midday sleep to 2pm for a few days.
  2. Then move the morning sleep to 11am (with big snack at 10:30am plus a tiny milk feed – then to sleep). They will be dog tired with the new routine for a few days so you will need to entertain them to get them through to 11am.
  3. On these days, your baby will probably sleep from 11am until 1pm and not have an afternoon sleep. So bring bedtime back to 6pm.
  4. Every third day do two sleeps if your baby needs it (limit to 2 weeks).
  5. Then in the third week, move morning sleep to 11:30 and eventually 12. That is your new routine.

For more help adjusting your baby’s routine as they grow, subscribe to Parent Sense. It’s the all-in-one baby app that has a smart routine that adjusts according to your babies age and logged data. You will get reminders for when it’s time for the next sleep, feed and how long your baby’s awake windows should be before you settle them to sleep. Download Parent Sense now and take the guesswork out of your baby’s routine.

Meg faure

Meg Faure

Hi, I’m Meg Faure. I am an Occupational Therapist and the founder of Parent Sense. My ‘why’ is to support parents like you and help you to make the most of your parenting journey. Over the last 25 years, I’ve worked with thousands of babies, and I’ve come to understand that what works for fussy babies works just as well for all babies, worldwide.