Naps are important for infants and young children. They provide babies with time to rest, restore, and grow. But it can be confusing to know just how many naps your baby should be taking. Should she be taking 3 naps? 2 naps? Most babies between the ages and 4-6 months old are taking three naps a day. The 3rd nap serves as a “tide me over” until bedtime. It’s short, and flexible. So, how do you know when your baby is ready to transition from three naps to two? How do you make the transition down to two naps? These are questions we get frequently from parents. Any time our babies are going through sleep changes, it can be a nerve wracking time. But with our guidance, the 3-to-2 nap transition doesn’t have to cause you to lose any sleep!
When to Make the 3-to-2 Nap Transition:
Typically, the 3-to-2 nap transition happens between the ages of 6-8 months. If your baby is within that age range and has skipped her third nap for two weeks straight, you can stop offering it to her. Keep in mind, the sleep drive for the third nap is the lowest out of all naps. This makes it very easy to “fight” or skip. So just because your baby has skipped the third nap once in a while does not mean she is ready to drop it completely. Check the steps below to make sure your baby is ready to move to two naps.
Steps to Take to the Make the Change a Success:
- Make sure your baby’s other two naps are solid! And by ‘solid,’ that means they should each be 1.5-2 hours long each. If your baby’s naps are not at that point yet, do not remove the third nap completely. Keep it as an option on the days your baby needs it to make up for shorter naps.
- Move bedtime earlier! Whenever your child goes through a nap transition, move bedtime earlier to help her adjust to this change. This will prevent your baby from getting overtired and running into other sleep issues, such as nightwakings.
- Make sure independent sleep skills are in place so sleep is predictable and goes smoothly. If you need to improve independent sleep skills, use a sleep training method to get them in place. Independent sleep skills are one of the four key sleep tools that make a complete sleep plan.
- Remember: there may be a bad nap day here or there where you need to offer the third nap as a tide-me-over until bedtime.
By 8 months of age, the majority of infants are no longer taking a third nap. Without the third nap, the focus should be on the first two naps of the day and nighttime sleep at that point. By doing that, your baby will get the most restorative sleep she needs.
As always, feel free to reach out if you need support answering questions about your child’s sleep.