The good news is the 3 to 2 nap transition is one of the easiest if you do it right…and I’m going to tell you exactly how to do it!
Before we dive in, I want you to keep in mind that all of this advice is based on your little one having independent sleep skills. If they don’t, then making changes to the sleep schedule will likely make sleep even worse! Before dropping the third nap, focus on teaching your little one independent sleep and if you need support reach out. I’d love to help!
The 3rd “Catnap”
The third nap is typically a catnap starting around 4 pm and lasting about 30-45 minutes. It is simply a bridge to bedtime and doesn’t have the same restorative qualities as naps 1 and 2. Up to this point, your baby has needed this little extra snooze to make it to a reasonable bedtime.
However, as your baby gets older, the amount of time they can be awake naturally increases while their morning and midday naps also lengthen to anywhere from 1-2 hours. This is when they’re nearing the 3 to 2 nap transition.
Five Signs of Readiness
- Fighting the 3rd nap: not taking it or having a really hard time falling asleep
- Nap 3 starting too late
- Meeting total daytime sleep needs in 2 naps
- Early morning wakings
Age: Most babies make this transition in the 8th month but it can happen anywhere from 7-10 months. Once your little one is in this age range, start looking for more signs of readiness.
Fighting the 3rd nap: The most common sign of readiness for the 3 to 2 nap transition is when your little one decides not to take the third nap or takes a really long time to fall asleep. For instance, they stay in their crib for 30 minutes and never fall asleep or that they take a very long time to fall asleep. For some babies this means crying for a while before finally falling asleep and for others it means playing in their crib instead of sleeping. It really depends on their individual temperament. If this goes on for 2 weeks straight, then it’s time to drop the third nap!
Nap 3 starting too late: If the third nap is beginning after 5 pm, drop it and opt for an early bedtime instead.
Meeting total daytime sleep needs in 2 naps: At 8 months old babies need 2.5-3 hours of daytime sleep. If your little one is getting this in 2 naps, the 3rd nap is no longer needed.
Early morning wakings: If your kiddo is still enjoying their 3 naps as usual but then they suddenly begin waking between 4 and 5 am it’s time to transition. This indicates they are getting too much daytime sleep and it’s time to shift that sleep back into nighttime (for everyone’s sake!).
Timing 2 Naps
We want to ensure the two naps are aligned with biological sleep rhythms so your child is getting the most restorative sleep possible. The first nap will begin between 8:30-9 am and the second nap will begin between 12 and 1 pm. Typically, 9 am and 1 pm work very well for this age until they transition down to 1 nap.
Use an early bedtime during the 3 to 2 nap transition to keep your baby from becoming overtired. It will take them some time to get used to staying awake for longer periods of time. Aim for bedtime about 3-3.5 hours after the second nap ends and be sure to watch for sleepy cues.
Last Tips on the 3 to 2 Nap Transition
If your little one is 8 months old but naps and nights are still going well, do nothing! Don’t make this transition until your kiddo is consistently showing you they are ready!
Dropping to two naps can be a nice change in your daily routine. Enjoy having some extra play time in the late afternoon!
PS: If you need support with your little one’s sleep, I got you. Book a free Intro Call here.