Wondering when and how to make the 4 to 3 nap transition with your baby? Check out this step-by-step post to see how to make this nap transition smooth for everyone.

baby girl smiling

Is your baby showing signs they might be ready to go from 4 to 3 naps?

Making nap transitions and dropping naps can feel overwhelming, but I’m here to help with a step-by-step approach and sample schedules.

Let me walk you through how to drop the fourth nap and get your baby on a predictable sleep schedule.

To help you better, start by downloading my free baby sleep calculator to see when nap time and bed time should be based on your baby’s age. Click here to grab that, it’ll be super helpful.
baby girl smiling and playing with feet

What Age Do Babies go From 4 to 3 Naps?

Most babies are ready to make the 4 to 3 nap transition between 4 and 5 months of age.

Remember that there is always an age range with nap transitions and baby sleep schedules.

Some babies may be ready to drop their last nap of the day right around 4 months old, and others may be ready for it closer to 4.5 months old.

Babies who have positive sleep associations and consolidated night sleep tend to be make the transition closer to 4 months. While babies whose sleep habits aren’t dialed in may not be able to handle the longer wake windows until closer to 5 months old.

Baby sleep schedule binder mockup image

Sleep and Feed Schedules for Every Age

Take away the stress of figuring out your baby’s sleep needs. With the Baby Sleep Schedule Binder, you’ll get sleeping and feeding schedules that you can implement for every age, even if you currently have no routine in place. Check out the Baby Sleep Schedule Binder here.

Signs Your Baby is Ready to Drop the 4th Nap

In addition to being 4–5 months old, your baby will show you signs that she’s ready to drop their fourth nap. Make sure to look for these common signs and not just make the transition based on your child’s age.

These signs may include:

  • Taking a long time (More than 15 minutes to fall asleep for a nap or bed time)
  • Waking up early from nap time or taking shorter naps than normal
  • Fighting bedtime
  • Baby having early morning wakings
  • Increased night wakings or split nights

If your baby was sleeping well and is consistently having a hard time with sleep, it might be the right time to make the 4 to 3 nap transition.

Keep in mind that many babies experience the 4-month sleep regression at this age as well, which can also interfere with sleep.

how to make the 4 to 3 nap transition graphic

How to Transition from 4 to 3 Naps

First off, the good news is that this is one of the easier nap transitions to make!

It’s a very forgiving nap transition since there is so much opportunity for day sleep and your baby’s wake windows are still on the lower end.

If you have days where your baby only naps 30 minutes, you can always squeeze in an evening nap or do an early bedtime during the transition period.

1. Gradually Increase their Wake Window

In order to transition your baby from 4 naps to 3 naps, I’ve found the best way is to gradually add awake time to their day in small increments before the next nap.

We want to avoid an overtired baby, which is why I make the transition gradually over time instead of just jumping right in.

  • Add 15 minutes to one or two wake times throughout the day (usually the second and third wake window).
  • Stay there for several days before changing your baby’s schedule again and assess.

For example, if your 3-month old was doing 90 minutes of awake time with four solid naps, their nap schedule may have looked like this:

Sample 4-Nap Schedule Before Transitioning

7:00 am — Wake up for the day

8:30 to 9:30 — First Nap

11:00 to 12:30 pm — Second Nap

2:00 to 3:00 pm — Third Nap

4:30 to 5:30 — Fourth Nap

7:00 pm — Bedtime

To start dropping the fourth nap, add 15 minutes to your baby’s second or third wake window of the day for about 3 to 5 days to allow their body to adjust.

A nap schedule during the transition may look like this:

graphic of 4 to 3 nap transitional schedule

Transitional Nap Schedule

7:00 am — Wake up for the day

8:30 to 10:00 am — Nap

11:45 to 1:15 pm — Nap

2:45 to 3:45 pm — Nap

5:00 to 5:30 — Cat Nap

7:00 pm — Bedtime

Your baby is still taking four naps but we are slowly pushing back the time of their last nap. Pretty soon, we won’t have time for it at all.

As your baby adjusts to the longer waketimes and is ready to extend, you can add wake time again, to the last wake window and first wake window.

As you continue to add wake time throughout the day, you eventually get to the point where there isn’t time for a 4th nap.

Add A Nap Routine

If you aren’t already doing a nap routine with your baby, now is a great time to start.

Babies thrive off having a consistent routine. Doing the same set of activities before nap time or as part of your baby’s bedtime routine will help cue to their brain that sleep is coming.

A sample nap routine at this age can include:

  • Diaper change
  • One book
  • Sleep sack
  • Baby in crib

Adjust Bedtime if Needed

If your baby takes short naps and you have a big gap to fill before the end of the day, you have two options:

  1. Move bedtime earlier
  2. Squeeze in a fourth catnap

With either option, bedtime may differ 30–60 minutes each day as you make the nap transition.

Be Flexible

It can take time for the transition to happen, so even as you begin to stretch your baby’s wake windows, some days your baby will take 4 naps and other days only 3 naps.

At this age, I recommend paying more attention to wake windows than baby’s sleep cues, because I find sleep cues tend to be misleading.

baby holding pacifier

3-Nap Schedule

As you continue to add wake time, your 4 month old’s wake window will increase to up to 2 hours.

Eventually you’ll get to a point where your baby’s new schedule looks like this:

7:00 am — Wake up for the day

8:30 to 10:00 — Morning Nap

12:00 to 1:30 pm — Afternoon Nap

3:30 to 5:00 pm — Last Nap

7:00 pm — Bedtime

4 to 3 nap transition schedule

If your baby takes long naps, you’ll have a fairly predictable schedule, where baby sleeps the same amount for all number of naps.

But also know that nap times might vary. If your baby takes nice long naps, you’re right on track!

But if your baby is consistently taking short naps, you’ll likely offer a fourth nap or do an earlier bedtime.

That may look like this.

7:00 am — Wake up for the day

8:30 to 9:15 — Nap

11:15 to 12:00 pm — Nap

2:00 to 2:30 pm — 3rd Nap

4:30 to 5:15 pm — Catnap

7:00 pm — Bedtime

Frequently Asked Questions About the 4 to 3 Nap Transition

How Long Does it Take to Transition from 4 Naps to 3?

If your baby is able to extend their wake windows and take longer naps, it may only take about 1–2 weeks for your baby to adjust to the new nap schedule. However, if your baby takes short naps the transition could take longer, about 3–4 weeks.

Note that some days your baby may take a long nap, making it a 3 nap day and other times it might be 4 nap days. Just follow appropriate wake windows to guide you.

My Baby Takes Short Naps. How Can We Make the Transition?

Short naps can still be developmental at this age, and it can just take time for your baby to take longer naps. Or there may be something else going on that is perpetuating the short naps.

Triple check your baby’s sleep environment. If you’re still having short naps, you can use a sleep training method, extend the nap via a contact nap, or implement crib hour to help lengthen those naps to help your baby connect sleep cycles.

What is the Hardest Nap Transition?

Most sleep consultants agree that the hardest nap transition is the 2 to 1 nap transition.

If you have any questions about the 4 to 3 nap transition, leave them in the comments below and we’ll help you troubleshoot.

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  1. Hello! That you for this helpful article.

    What I continue to be confused about is how this all impacts the feeding schedule. I rarely see these kinds of nap articles include a feeding schedule. Why is that?

    My 4-month old currently breastfeeds at 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, and 4am. So, if I’m transitioning her naps (currently 8:30-10, 11:30-1pm, 2:30-4, and 5-5:30) to be 3 per day rather than 4, what happens to her feeding schedule?? I’m so confused!

    Thanks for your help.


    1. Hi Alex! That is because feeding schedules vary from baby to baby, especially with little ones. When you start to change your nap schedule, after a few days the feedings typically settle into a new normal. When babies are on a 3-hour feeding schedule, often offering a feeding anywhere from 2.5-3.5 hours will work when needed; so during the nap transition you may be able to move a feeding a little earlier or push it a little later as needed. Hang in there! As a mom, the 4 nap to 3 nap transition has always felt like the trickiest.


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