Nap transition is an important part of your baby’s growth process. While 3 naps are essential in the beginning, as your baby grows and develops, the 3rd nap becomes less and less important. Eventually, there is no need for it at all. The question, however, becomes how do parents know when it’s time for that nap transition from 3 naps to 2 naps. Today, I’ll help you understand when your baby is ready.

Baby on a blanket.

3 to 2 nap transition. The Baby Sleep Experts – Dream Baby Sleep

The Importance of Properly Timing Nap Transition

The purpose of nap 3 is to simply bridge the gap between daytime and bedtime.  Without it, your baby will become overtired or he or she may simply fall asleep too early, resulting in a night of interrupted, non-restorative sleep. Nap 1 supports cognitive development, and nap 2 supports motor skill development.  It is important that nap 1 and 2 are a minimum of 1 hour in length in order for them to be considered restorative.  This is the key to set your little one up for success to transition from 3 to 2 naps without becoming overtired.

If you’re struggling with short naps be sure to apply the 1-hour rule to nap 1 and nap 2 using your preferred sleep training method.  This will teach the baby how to connect sleep cycles and achieve the goal of 60 minutes of asleep time or longer.

5 Signs Baby is Ready for 2 Naps

One of the most important parts of nap transition is knowing when it is time to actually do it. If done too early, it can interrupt your baby’s carefully laid out sleep cycle, disrupting the entire pattern. If done too late, your baby will take it upon his or herself to make changes, again resulting in sleep pattern disruption. Be on the lookout for these 5 signs that your baby is ready for the transition from 3 naps to 2.

  • Nap 1 and nap 2 regularly exceed 60 minutes of sleep time or longer
  • Nap 2 is regularly long enough that you cannot squeeze in nap 3 prior to 4:30 pm
    • All day sleep needs to be capped by 4:30 pm in order to protect the sleep pressure we want heading into bedtime
  • Your baby is starting to skip or fight nap 3 more often
  • Your baby is between 7 and 9 months old
  • Nap 3 can always be on the go and a key indicator baby is ready to drop nap 3 is when the classic late afternoon stroller nap is refused by your baby

3 Ways to Navigate Nap Transition

  • The timing of nap 1 and nap 2 will remain the same at roughly 9 am and 1 pm
  • Your baby will likely be able to tolerate a longer awake period between nap 2 and bedtime, however, you will temporarily adjust with an earlier bedtime for 2 to 3 weeks
  • Slowly bump bedtime later in 10-minute increments every 3-5 nights until you reach the bedtime that your baby had when he was taking 3 naps prior to the transition
    • So, if your baby had a 6:30 pm bedtime prior to the transition when he was on 3 naps, you will need to adjust with an earlier bedtime closer to 5:45 – 6:00 pm and slowly stretch bedtime toward 6:30 pm

We want to officially drop nap 3 by 9 months old to make sure we have enough sleep pressure headed into bedtime to help prevent night waking, early rising and improve the quality of nap 1 and 2.

If you’re struggling with naps, schedule a free 15-minute sleep consultation today.