A question I get from nearly every client I work with is how to transition from 3 naps to 2 naps (or from 2 naps to 1 nap, but that’s for another post). Assuming your child is falling asleep unassisted and is taking three naps a day, it’s likely those naps are occurring sometime around 8:30 am, 11:30 am, and 3:00 pm. If they were trained through the Baby Sleep Trainer method, they are likely eating when they wake in the morning, after each nap, and 30 minutes before bedtime. This schedule works very well for babies until about their 7th month when you may start to notice they aren’t quite ready for their second nap around 11:30 am, or they can’t seem to fall asleep for nap three at 3 pm. If this occurs for several days in a row and your child is around 7 months old (give or take a month), your little one is ready to transition to 2 naps a day.
You’ll want their current schedule to shift to the following:
Wake in the morning, milk
8 am – breakfast solids (if applicable)
9:00 am nap
Wake from nap, milk
12:00 pm – lunch solids (if applicable) + milk (optional)
1:30 pm – nap
Wake from nap, milk
5:00 pm – dinner solids (if applicable)
6:30 pm – final milk feeding, bedtime prep
7:00 pm – bedtime
- Naps can start as early as 9 am and as late as 10 am for the morning nap, and as early as 1:30 pm and as late as 2:30 pm for the afternoon nap. For example, if your child takes an uncharacteristically long morning nap of two hours, they may need to go down closer to 2:30 pm, but if your child only sleeps 40 minutes for their first nap, they may prefer to nap closer to 1:30 pm for their second nap. Also, as children grow older you may find that one or both naps need to start a bit later, so you can move naps to start as late as about 10:00 am and 2:30 pm.
- No single nap should exceed 2 hours and generally speaking TOTAL daytime sleep should not exceed 3.5 hours.
- Do not go back and forth from 3 naps to 2 naps. Once you are ready to make the transition, stick to it even if naps are short.
- Wake time in the morning is typically around 6:30 am or 7:00 am, but even if it’s earlier than this time, feed your baby milk when they wake.
- Generally around the time your child is ready for two naps, they are also taking solids. Feel free to follow the solids feeding schedule as well.
- If your child is not yet taking solids in, or if you just want them to have an additional milk feeding, noon is a good time to do that. Make certain that if your child is taking in milk at this time that they remain fully awake during the feeding. A milk feeding in addition to solids is also a good idea.
- If your child is not eating dinner solids, you’ll want to give them another small milk feeding around 5:00 pm, again making sure they stay fully awake.
- Do not worry about nap lengths. Your baby will sleep however long they need and want to sleep, and with time, their naps will lengthen.
If your child is not on a 7-7 daily schedule, adjust the times accordingly to whatever times your child wakes and goes to bed each night. And if you would like to learn more about getting your baby’s naps on a healthy schedule, sign up for my newsletter!