In their first year, your babies sleep needs will be changing very often- about every month! They are undergoing developments at a very intense rate so therefore need lots of sleep to be able to grow and develop properly. But it can be tricky to know when to adjust your babies’ sleep routine and this is especially hard around main nap transitions. In this blog, I’ll be outlining how to help with the 3-to-2 nap transition (which is luckily normally fairly straightforward!)
Signs to look out for
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ for nap transitions. Usually between about 8-10 months, most babies will be ready for the 3-2 transition. Around this age, their awake window will be increasing to about 2-4 hours so it becomes a lot harder to be able to fit in 3 naps. Most parents commonly find that their baby is finding it a lot harder to settle for that 3rd nap or it’s becoming shorter and shorter. These are all signs that it’s time to make the jump to a 2 nap schedule.
Other key things that could indicate they are ready for this transition (regularly occurring over the course of 7-10 days) are:
· Issues settling to sleep for a nap
· Waking early from a nap
· One nap baby settles well, but unable to sleep well for other naps
· Issues falling asleep at bedtime
· Unable to fit the 3rd nap in for the day
· Playing or rolling around for long periods of times before dozing off to sleep
· Early morning rising issues
· Struggling to fall back asleep in the early morning hours
How to handle the transition:
The 3-to-2 nap transition has many factors to it and depends on how well your baby is linking their sleep cycles for the first two naps and as well as how long of an awake window they are able to manage. The transition can be smoother when you have a baby that is able to have two solid naps and so no longer needs the 3rd naps to bridge the gap until bedtime. If they are only able to have one longer nap followed by a shorter nap, they may not be quite ready as their awake window until bedtime may be too long which could then cause bedtime battles and overnight problems.
So first make sure they’re ready to make the transition (such as hitting a few of the criteria from above) and then gradually shift the naps.
Every few days, move back their first 2 naps by about 10-15 mins each until they’re on a nicely established 2 nap routine. They may still need a short 3rd nap (can be a motion nap such as in the car, buggy or in a sling) if they are a bit more sensitive to sleep changes. If in doubt, an earlier bedtime always helps!
Their 2 naps will normally sit well at around 9.30am and 1/1.30pm and last about 1h30m each (or about 3 hours total for the day). Although, these nap times can vary depending on what time they wakeup in the morning, as well as external factors such as needing to drop off/pick up an older child from nursery etc.
As with all transitions, it can be very handy to keep a sleep log to be able to see any patterns in their sleep and help you to establish a good routine specific for your little one.
As always, if you need any help with this transition or with any other sleep issues you’re facing, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with me.