Catherine Completely Baby Sleep Consultant

Catherine Thompson
Baby Sleep Consultant & Owner of Completely Baby

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You’ll know that naps are essential to your baby’s sleep pattern. Naps help your baby reach the right amount of sleep they need throughout the day to support all that lovely development and growth they’re going through.

As they get older, your baby will need fewer naps, and they should start to sleep in a longer block during the evening and night. A question I’m often asked, though, is when do babies drop to two naps?

Figuring out when do babies drop to two naps and how to do it successfully so your baby still gets the sleep they need can be tricky.

In this blog, I’ll cover the first part of the nap transition – dropping your baby from three naps to two.

When Do Babies Drop to Two Naps?

3 to 2 nap transition featured imageIt’s different for every baby, but you’ll likely start to notice that your baby’s awake windows naturally become longer around the 7-8 month mark.

This makes it a great opportunity to start adjusting your baby’s sleep pattern and trialling to see if they’re now ready to go down to two naps.

This is just a general guideline, though. You may find your baby seems ready at around six months, or they might take a little longer to reach the stage – it’s also common for this transition to take place anywhere up until your baby is 18 months old. I don’t recommend starting this transition earlier than six months, as your baby’s sleep cycles are still maturing.

The important thing is to look out for some key signs that can help you know they’re ready for the transition.

4 Signs Your Baby is Ready for the 3 to 2 Nap Transition

Observing and appreciating your baby’s usual sleep patterns will set you up well to start picking up on the subtle signs below that can indicate now is a good time to start this next stage of their sleep routine:

1. Their awake windows become longer: You may notice the time they spend awake becomes longer. On average, their awake window at this age should be around 2-3 hours, but this can vary. Look out for sleepy cues, so you know they’re not overdoing it.

2. Their first two naps become longer: As their awake windows become a bit longer, you may also find that their first two naps stretch out a little more.

3. You struggle to fit in a third nap: With longer awake windows and longer naps earlier in the day, it might be tricky to find a suitable amount of time to fit in a third nap before their regular bedtime routine commences.

4. They show less sleepy cues around the usual time of their third nap: A key sign they’re ready to drop the third nap is no sign of sleepy cues in the awake window between their second nap and their bedtime routine. This will often result in them resisting this nap.

If you’re starting to notice these signs more frequently with your baby, it’s a great indicator their natural circadian rhythm is developing and they’re ready for the 3 to 2 nap transition.

3 Signs Your Baby Still Needs the Third Nap

As I mentioned, every baby is different, and there are no hard and fast rules regarding these sleep transitions. You also need to account for developmental leaps, sickness, or other changes that impact how much sleep your baby needs.

Things I look out for that help me know whether a baby still needs their third nap include:

1. They’re not consistently staying awake for longer: If your baby’s awake windows aren’t consistently longer and you find they need that third nap more days than not, they might need a little longer before introducing this change.

2. They’re experiencing a developmental change: If your baby is experiencing significant developmental changes, they may need more sleep to support them. The same goes for if they’re unwell and require more recovery time.

3. They’re experiencing a sleep regression: If your baby is overtired as they are waking frequently overnight, that third nap might still be needed. This ensures they don’t get too sleep deprived and that they’re getting enough sleep to support their health and wellbeing.

Managing the 3 to 2 Nap Transition: Step by Step

Deciding when to drop to two naps will be individual for you and your baby. If you’ve read through the above and feel confident they’re ready for the transition, I recommend the following to support through this change:

1. When your baby wakes from their second nap, offer them an opportunity to ‘rest’ for around 20-30minutes at the time of their third nap – they still may need a ‘quiet period’ leading up to bedtime.

2. Take into account how much total day sleep they have had – they may need a 3rd nap on some occasions, a flexible approach with this will support.

2. Observe how your baby responds and how they are managing with this adjustment to their sleep routine, take a look at their night sleep and if anything changes there.

3. Be prepared to bring their bedtime earlier, look out for those early tired signs and be led by these to avoid over-tiredness leading into their night sleep.

3 to 2 Nap Transition FAQs

Is six months too early for two naps?

Not necessarily – 6 months might be the perfect time for some babies to start this transition, but not for every baby. Look for the signs mentioned above to know if they’re ready at this age.

How long does the 3 to 2 nap transition take?

This depends on you and your baby. There is no straight line with nap transitions, and it’s essential to observe your baby, stay flexible, and keep supporting them, so they feel nurtured during any sleep changes.

What is the 2 3 4 nap schedule?

This is a schedule that some sleep consultants use when transitioning baby from 3 to 2 naps. It describes how long the awake windows should be between each nap and sleep phase. However, I encourage families to be guided mostly by behaviour and to support babies with self-settling/re-settling which helps lengthen naps overtime.

Get Help With Nap Transitions

Every baby is unique, and the ages and timeframes mentioned here are a guideline only; it’s much more important that your baby gets the sleep they need than to try and rush them into the transition before they’re ready because they’re ‘at the right age’.
If you’re struggling with nap transitions or any aspect of your baby’s sleep – I can help. As an experienced baby sleep consultant in Sydney, I’ve worked with hundreds of parents and their babies, and I can provide you with the advice and guidance to see you through subsequent regressions.

Book a completely free chat with me here today, and let’s help your baby on their way to better sleep.

Catherine Completely Baby Sleep Consultant

Catherine Thompson
Baby Sleep Consultant & Owner of Completely Baby

Did you find this article helpful? I am a highly experienced baby sleep consultant with a unique educational and healthcare background who supports tired parents to help their babies find sleep more easily. If you want to chat about your situation please book in a free chat today by clicking the below button now! Alternatively you can text or call me on: +61 406 344 010.