Finally you had your little one on a schedule that was working … and then out of nowhere, sleep starts to become an issue again. You start wondering. Is it sleep regression? Teething? It’s a mystery to solve sometimes, but it could be time for nap transition! But what is that exactly?

A nap transition occurs when your child is ready to reduce the number of naps they have during the day. So when a child drops from 3 to 2 naps, that is considered a nap transition. It’s an important step in the development of your baby. Usually going from 3 to 2 naps happens when a baby is between 7 and 10 months old. Sometimes it can be a little later, when you notice that your baby really needs the extra sleep. Sometimes a little earlier, when your baby has two solid naps and sleeps 11-12 hours straight through the night. 

How do I know my baby is ready?

While the thought of a nap transition may be scary, there is nothing to be afraid of! Going into a nap transition well prepared is the best step in the right direction. But how do you know when your little one is ready for this nap transition? While every child is different, the following signs may indicate that the baby is ready to drop a nap:

* Naps are getting shorter and wake time is increasing
* It’s taking too long to fall asleep at nap-time, sometimes followed by a short nap
* Complete refusal of napping, most of the time for the 3rd of the day.
* 3rd nap is getting so late, it’s interfering with bedtime
* It’s taking too long to fall asleep at bedtime, after 3 naps
* Baby is between the age of 7-10 months

Your little one should be showing these signs consistently for 2 weeks before you start the transition. We wait for 2 weeks to be confident that your baby is actually ready and isn’t simply experiencing a brief short sleep regression due to new developmental milestones.

How do I manage the transition?

To make this transition you will begin by gradually pushing your regular nap times further to help remove the third nap. It is important to offer a (very) early bedtime, especially in the transition period to make up for the lost nap. By putting your baby to bed earlier in the evening you can compensate for the missing amount of sleep, and prevent that your baby’s awake for too long and becomes overtired. If babies are awake longer than their little bodies can tolerate a stress response will be activated, including the release of hormones like cortisol, which makes it harder for baby to settle and fall asleep.

I recommend doing this in 30-minute increments over the course of 3-4 days. Here are two example schedules with old and new examples using a 7am and 6am wake time respectively:

3 Nap Schedule

2 Nap Schedule

7:00 a.m Wake-up

7:00 a.m Wake-up

9:00 a.m Nap 1

10:00 a.m Nap 1

12:45 p.m. Nap 2

2 p.m.  Nap 2

4:00 p.m. Nap 3

X

8:00 p.m. Asleep

7:00 p.m. Asleep

3 Nap Schedule

2 Nap Schedule

6:00 a.m Wake-up

6:00 a.m Wake-up

8:00 a.m Nap 1

9:00 a.m Nap 1

11:45 p.m. Nap 2

1:30 p.m.  Nap 2

3:30 p.m. Nap 3

X

6:30/7:00 p.m. Asleep

6:00/6:30 p.m. Asleep

Some “Golden Rules”

  • The goal amount of sleep for each of the two new naps is plusminus 90 minutes each. Of course, this length is going to vary depending on the child and the day.
  • Generally speaking the total daytime sleep is at least 2 hours and 4 hours at the most.
  • The first nap usually doesn’t start before 9 a.m. and no later than 10 a.m., and the second nap as early as 1:15 p.m. and as late as 2:30 p.m. If your child takes a long 2 hour morning nap, he or she may need to go down closer to 2:30 p.m., but if your child only sleeps 40 minutes for their first nap, he may prefer to nap closer to 1:30 p.m. for his second nap. 
  • Babies of this age can stay awake for 2.5 to maximally 3.5 hours. Try not to exceed this time, over-tiredness might lead to difficulties falling and staying asleep.
  • In the beginning sometimes your baby might need a catnap in the afternoon if the other naps where short. 
  • Do not worry about nap lengths, with time, their naps will lengthen.
  • If your child is not on a 7-7/6-6 daily schedule, adjust the times accordingly to whatever times your child wakes and goes to bed each night. Wake-up time in the morning is anywhere between 6 and 7:30 a.m. and evening bedtime anywhere between 5:30 (if necessary) and 8 p.m.

And if you would like to learn more about getting your baby’s naps on a healthy schedule, feel free to send me a message via info@sleep-champs.com