The 3 to 2 nap transition is one of the trickiest! It can happen anytime between 6-8 months (most commonly) and can take a few weeks for your babe to settle in to, making it hard to navigate. Here is how to know if you are ready to make the leap and how to make it happen as seamlessly as possible. If you want support and guidance as you navigate this transition, let's talk!
Signs you are ready to transition from 3 to 2 naps:
- Baby is between 6-8 months- We transitioned at 6 months, but it can vary from 6 to 8 months. Keep reading below to make sure you are ready for the transition before you make the jump.
- Early Morning Wakings- was your baby sleeping through the night well, but all of the sudden waking up way earlier than desired (4-6 AM)? It may be a sign the transition is coming.
- New Night Wakings- is your baby waking up in the middle of the night (usually happy?) This could be a sign the transition is coming and baby is getting too much daytime sleep for their age.
- Late Bedtime- Is your 3rd nap occurring too late in the day, pushing bedtime past 8 PM? Ideally, bedtime is between 6-8 PM, when melatonin production is ramping up. If bedtime is getting too late (for your sanity too!), it's probably time to drop the last nap. Your schedule might look like this: 6:30 Wake up/9-10:30 Nap 1/ 1-2:30 Nap 2/5-5:45 Nap 3/8:15 Bedtime
- Wake windows are maxed out- A wake window is simply the amount of time baby is awake between naps. If yours are maxed out, it means windows are probably 2.5 hours across the board on 3 naps per day, which is in turn could be pushing bedtime too late.
- Baby can take long consolidated naps- In order to transition to 2 naps, it is helpful if you baby is capable of taking naps of 1.5-2 hours at a time. You'll need 2 long naps in order to make it to a reasonable bedtime and even with long naps, you will most likely be rocking a 6-7 PM bedtime for a few weeks until your baby settles into the transition.
- Have you micromanaged naps?- One way to delay the transition if you think your babe may have a hard time staying awake longer than 2.5 hours at a time, is micromanaging naps. You can cap naps at ~1 hour each in order to fit 3 in with a reasonable bedtime. This may look like: 6:30 Wake up/9-10:15 Nap 1/ 12:45-1:45 Nap 2/4:15-5:15 Nap 3/7:45 Bedtime
You're ready, now what?
- Adjust schedule- The most common wake windows for a babe newly on 2 naps is 2.75/3/3, with about 2.5-3.5 hours of daytime sleep. Aiming for ideal nap times, this could look like: 6:30 Wake up/9-10:30 Nap 1/ 1-3 Nap 2/ 6 Bedtime
- Have a set out of crib time in the AM- As you transition to 2 naps, you'll notice you baby starts to really get into a good rhythm with her naps and schedule. It is helpful to pick a time to always take baby out of crib in the morning so you start your day at the same time. This can also help reset baby's clock to wake at the same time each day and eliminate early morning wakeups. During our transition to 2 naps, we struggled with early mornings (they were a problem before the transition as well). We stuck to an out of crib time of 6:45 each day even though Harper was often up WAY before this. Some mornings she would fall back asleep and other mornings, she would happily hang out until wake up time.
- Accept and Expect an earlier bedtime- I know, I know, 6/6:30 bedtime sounds like a train wreck of early morning wakings to come, but it works! During this transition, an earlier bedtime is better than a later! If baby becomes too tired before bed, night sleep can suffer and bedtime can become a battle.
- Stretch wake time before bed as baby tolerates- Once your baby is settling into the transition after a few weeks, you can see if they can tolerate 15 more minutes in the middle of the day or before bed. They will also probably start to sleep a little later in the morning if you were struggling with some earlier mornings during the transition. This will help get bedtime closer to 7 PM. Your schedule might start to look like this: 7:00 Wake up/9:30-11 Nap 1/ 2-3:30 Nap 2/ 7 Bedtime
I hope this helps you navigate the 3 to 2 nap transition. IMO, 6-8 months is the trickiest time for baby's sleep, there is just so much going on with new skills, milestones, and transitions! Just remember with anything related to baby sleep, Consistency is Key.
Nichole @ Little Peach Sleep