How to Drop From 3 Naps to 2
Knowing how much sleep your baby needs at night is only HALF the picture when it comes to meeting her sleep needs. Sufficient daytime sleep is just as important as night sleep – not enough daytime sleep leads to over-tiredness and more wakings in middle of the night, and too MUCH daytime sleep causes long periods of wakefulness early in the mornings – not what you’re looking for at 5 am.
Knowing when to change your baby’s nap schedule from 3 daily naps to just 2 (and later to 1) is critical to ensure a smooth overall schedule.
Generally, daily nap schedules look like this:
0-3 months 4+ naps each day
4-7 months 3 naps each day
8-18 months 2 naps each day
18 months -3 years 1 nap each day
Signs your baby is ready for 2 naps
- She is around 7 months old
- She used to sleep nicely but has started waking in middle of the night or, more commonly, early in the morning, for at least two weeks consistently. Don’t switch your baby’s nap schedule after 3 or 4 days. Give it enough time to be really sure that this is a true sign of a nap transition
- She starts fighting the third nap, going down with a lot of crying, or not sleeping the whole nap duration.
- The third nap pushes bedtime to be too late, because she’s not tired when bedtime comes around
Your baby is not ready to drop the third nap if
- She is under 6 months old
- You are going through a rough few days where day and night sleep is disrupted. That’s usually a sign of a sleep regression, an ear infection or a milestone that’s about to be reached, like walking or crawling.
How to Drop From 3 Naps to 2
Drop the third nap cold turkey
Just stop putting your baby down for her third nap. This is the least complicated way to transition. Expect 3 or 4 very whiny and fussy afternoons, and after that things should settle into place relatively smoothly.
Gradually shorten the third nap
For one week, limit the third nap to 20 minutes. Practically this means that 20 minutes after she’s fallen asleep, you’ll wake her up. Yes, she will be grouchy – this is the disadvantage of moving slowly. The next week, cut the nap down to 15 minutes, the next week to 10. The week after, stop putting her down for the third nap.
When you drop the third nap, you can move bedtime 30 minutes to an hour earlier if your baby has a hard time making it to bedtime without falling apart.
It takes 3-4 weeks for a new nap schedule to fall into place, so don’t stress if you have a rough few days or even a rough few weeks! Nap transitions are a big adjustment for your baby and it can take time for things to settle into place.
Be prepared for some jagged, uneven progress along the road- you can end up having some days with 2 naps and then some days with 3 naps and then back to 2 nap days. As long as the upward trend is moving in the right direction, don’t stress.
The less naps your baby takes, the longer the naps tend to be – so look ahead to the bright future! Long, glorious naps. Who doesn’t love that!