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When and How to Make the 3 to 2 Nap Transition with Your Baby

Wondering if your baby is ready to make the 3 to 2 nap transition? Learn when babies typically drop their third nap and how to smoothly transition to two naps!

7 month old baby smiling

Making a schedule change and dealing with nap transitions stress a lot of parents out, but I personally always enjoyed making them!

More awake time and fewer naps meant I had more time to hang out with my baby, instead of watching her sleep all day!

The 3 to 2 nap transition is one of my favorite transitions because once your baby is on a solid two-nap schedule, their sleep schedule is the same everyday!

After you’ve successfully transitioned to two naps, you can keep your two naps at the same time each day.

No more counting wake windows or adjusting the next nap time if your baby took short naps.

Keep reading to see if your baby is ready to make the 3 to 2 nap transition and how to do it!

When Do Babies Transition to Two Naps?

The 3 to 2 nap transition typically happens when your baby is in the 6 to 8 months age range. The most common age for babies to start the transition is 7 months old.

Babies who are higher sleep needs or don’t sleep well at night, may hold onto that third nap until closer to 9 months old. While babies who have good over night sleep may be ready to make the transition at 6 months old.

Read on to see the signs your baby is ready to make the 3 to 2 nap transition!

baby boys crawling and sitting up

How Do You Know Baby is Ready for 2 Naps?

Wouldn’t it be great if your baby came with an instruction manual? I was obsessed with baby sleep schedules and how to handle nap transitions as a new mom.

Then, when I became a pediatric sleep consultant, I decided to create a guidebook for baby sleep schedules and nap transitions.

interior of baby schedule cheat sheets

The Baby Schedule Cheat Sheets have sample schedules, wake windows, and signs it’s time to make a nap transition so you know your baby’s sleep is on track! Check out the Baby Schedule Cheat Sheets here.

3 to 2 Nap Transition Signs

Your baby will essentially show you signs that he’s ready to drop his third nap and increase his wake windows, which will slowly drop the third nap and is how you’ll make the transition to two naps.

Some common signs include:

  • At least 6 months old
  • Taking longer than 15 minutes to fall asleep at bedtime or for naps
  • Waking up 45 minutes into a nap
  • Waking up too early in the morning
  • New night wakings when baby was previously sleeping through the night
  • The last nap of the day is too late and interfering with bedtime

Keep in mind that the six month sleep regression can also affect your baby’s sleep between 6 and 8 months of age. As your baby learns new skills like crawling and sitting, these developmental milestones can interfere with sleep.

baby sitting in high chair with spoon and bowl

How to Transition from 3 to 2 Naps

Once you’re positive that your baby is ready to transition to two naps, here’s how to do it!

Just like when you made the 4 to 3 nap transition, you’ll gradually increase your baby’s awake times throughout the day.

Slowly increase each of their wake windows to about 2.25 to 3, depending on the time of day and how much your baby is able to handle.

At this age, you don’t have to worry as much (though still be aware of it) about an overtired baby as you did during the newborn days. Sometimes babies need a little nudge and stretch in their wake time to really help them take a good nap!

For example, at 6-months old, you may have been doing wake windows that were 2.25/2.5/2.5/2.25.

Stretch the first morning wake window to 2.5 hours and the second wake window to 3 hours for a nice 7 month old sleep schedule. If your baby takes two long naps, you’ll automatically have 2 naps that day, with about 3 hours before bedtime.

Example

7:00 am — Wake for the day

9:30 to 11:00 am — Nap 1

2:00 to 3:30 pm — Nap 2

6:30 pm — Bedtime

However, if the morning nap and second nap were short, you’ll try to squeeze in a cat nap around 4 pm, making it a 3-nap day.

3 to 2 nap transition schedule

Example:

7:00 am — Wake for the day

9:30 to 10:15 am — Nap 1

1:15 to 2:00 pm — Nap 2

4:00 to 4:30 — Nap 3

7:00 — Bedtime

There are no rules for the catnap, and your goal will be to get it in however you can. You can take baby for a walk in a stroller, wear baby, or simply allow him to sleep on your chest. The 3rd nap helps your baby make it to the end of the day and bridge the time to bedtime, so as long as you’re practicing safe sleep, don’t worry about creating bad sleep habits!

If the catnap doesn’t happen, then don’t be afraid to put your baby to bed up to 90 minutes earlier for an early bedtime.

An earlier bedtime during the transition can help make up for the loss in daytime sleep temporarily.

Around 6 months old, many babies grow out of the 45-minute intruder. If your baby only naps for 30 minutes or 45 minutes, then they may have sleep associations that are inhibiting their ability to connect their sleep cycle.

It’s okay if some days your baby takes two naps and other days, he takes three naps during the transition.

If your baby has a hard time extedning their nap length, you can implement a sleep training method or use crib hour to give your baby time and space to fall back asleep to help him take longer naps.

Keep in mind that it takes time to fully make the transition.

baby sitting

What Does A 2-Nap Schedule Look Like?

As your baby’s naps lengthen and he is able to handle a bit more awake time, a 2-nap schedule may look like this:

3 to 2 nap transition - 2 nap schedule

7:00 am — Wake for the day

9:30 to 11:00 am — Nap 1

2:00 to 3:30 pm — Nap 2

7:00 pm — Bedtime

It includes 3 hours of daytime sleep and 11 to 12-hours of nighttime sleep. This is a great sleep schedule for a 7-month old or 8-month old once they’ve fully transitioned to two naps!

Remember that it takes time to transition to the new schedule. Shorter naps or early wake ups are common during the 3 to 2 nap transition. Stick with it and eventually your baby will be on a nice 2-nap schedule!

Amy Motroni