Think your baby is ready to make the 3-to-2 nap transition? Learn about when babies drop the third nap and how to tell when your baby is ready to make the transition to two naps.
I was so excited to drop the third nap when Evelyn was a baby. Don’t get me wrong—a sleeping baby is a beautiful thing, but I wanted her to be awake more so we could hang out and do things!
I could have been more flexible implementing the Babywise method, but I wanted her to nap in her crib, which meant when she was taking three naps a day, we were home a lot!
So, yes, I was excited to move to a 2-nap schedule. We made the transition right around 6 months and it went so smoothly! I loved the 2-nap schedule for my 6-month old and found it to be one of the easiest routines to implement!
Once you make the transition, you’ll have two longer naps that are at the same time each day!
See when babies drop the third nap, if your baby is ready to make the 3 to 2 nap transition, and how you can smoothly drop the third nap with your baby!
When do Babies Drop The Third Nap?
Between 6 and 8 months old your baby’s wake times will increase, meaning your baby will be able to stay awake for a longer period of time before he needs a nap. This is also the age when the third nap is commonly dropped.
Most babies should be getting two to three hours of daytime sleep at this age and can handle between 2.5 to 3.5 hours of wake time at once.
Since 6 to 8 months is a long range in baby land, make sure you watch your baby to see if it’s time to drop the third nap. He will show you signs that he is ready to extend his wake time and transition from 3 to 2 naps.
How to Know Baby is Ready to Drop Third Nap?
Your baby will usually let you know when it’s time for a nap transition. Keep in mind that your baby could also be teething, going through a milestone or developmental period, or be in the middle of a sleep regression when these things happen. (I know, having a baby is so black and white, right?).
Don’t drop the third nap at the first sign of a sleep struggle like short naps. Watch your baby for several days consistently before making a nap transition.
Here are some signs that your baby will show you when it’s time to make the 3 to 2 nap transition:
- Your baby starts refusing a nap that he used to take without any problem. You may put him down at the same time that you always did and he may lie in his crib happily or start to cry instead of falling asleep. Babies often fight the catnap first when they are ready to drop it.
- Your baby’s nap suddenly shortens. He may have been sleeping 2 hours and is suddenly waking up early into his nap or taking shorter naps altogether.
- The catnap starts interfering with bedtime. Your baby might not be falling asleep for the catnap until 30 minutes after you put him down, pushing the time he wakes up from the nap back and pushing bedtime back as well.
- Bedtime becomes a battle. If your child used to go to bed easily at bedtime and is now fighting bedtime sleep and not falling asleep until long after you put him to bed, he may be ready to drop a nap.
- Your baby’s naps seem all over the place. You may have gone from having a predictable, set nap schedule to a suddenly chaotic nap schedule. Naps can start to interfere with bedtime, pushing everything back.
- Your baby starts waking up in the middle of the night. He may lie there content or cry out. This could mean he’s been getting too much daytime sleep and needs to drop a nap.
- Your baby starts having early wakings. If your baby was typically sleeping until 7 am and suddenly starts waking up consistently at 5:30 am, it may be a sign he is ready to drop the third nap.
My daughter started fighting her catnap just before she turned 6 months old. I tried pulling out all the stops, like driving her around in the car and carrying her in my Tula carrier before realizing it was time to drop that catnap!
How to Transition from 3 to 2 Naps
Now that you know your baby is ready to drop the third nap, how do you go about making the transition?
You will push your baby’s awake time back by about 15 to 30 minutes each day until you reach the new nap times.
For example, if your baby was napping prior at 9:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 4:00 pm, you would push the first nap to 9:30, the second nap to 1:30 pm, and drop the third nap altogether.
During the transition you may need to do an early bedtime to keep your baby from getting overtired. (You can pull it up by about 30 to 60 minutes if needed. Truly, do not fear the early bedtime!) As your baby adjusts to the new nap and wake times, you’ll push bedtime back to where it was..
Once you have made the transition, your baby will take a morning and afternoon nap. Once you’ve reached the new nap times, stick to those nap times consistently each day. Here are wake windows and 6-month sample schedules that you can use if you need examples of how to structure your baby’s day.
Good luck making the 3 to 2 nap transition. You can do it mama!