Around the age of 6-7 months, babies often reach a developmental stage where your little one starts to show signs, they are ready to transition from three naps to two. This transition marks a shift in your baby’s sleep patterns and is an essential part of their growth and development. However, understanding when and how to make this change is crucial for both you and your little ones.
Signs Your Baby is Ready:
Identifying when your baby is ready for this transition is the first step. Keep an eye on the following signs:
Decreased Sleepiness Signs: Notice if your baby is showing less sleepy cues before their usual naptime. This could indicate that they are ready for a longer awake period.
Wakefulness During Naptime: If your baby is lying awake during their designated nap times, it may be a clear sign that their current sleep schedule is evolving.
Changes in Sleep Patterns: Pay attention to bedtime protests, early wake-ups, or night awakenings. These changes may suggest that your baby’s sleep needs are shifting.
It’s essential to understand that every baby is unique, and their response to this transition will vary. While some little ones smoothly adapt to a new nap routine, others may require a more gradual adjustment. Here’s a guide to help manage this transition effectively
Gradual Awake Window Increase: If your little one is comfortable with three naps, gradually extend awake windows by 15 minutes every 3 days. Aim for at least 3 hours of awake time before the next sleep, potentially pushing to 3 ½ – 4 hours between the second nap and bedtime.
Handling Nap Length: Some little ones may instantly improve nap length, especially if they’ve struggled to nap for longer durations. Be aware that nap length might initially decrease due to over-tiredness.
Distraction Techniques: If your little one appears tired before the usual naptime, use distractions like fresh air, water play or naturally sweet snacks to help stretch their awake window.
Temporary Third Nap: Initially, if necessary, consider a short catnap of 15-20 minutes in the car or pram. This will bridge the gap between the second nap and bedtime. This should only be used if the awake window before bedtime is looking like it will be more than 3 ½ hours. See cat nap guidance below.
Early Bedtime: To manage any potential overtiredness, consider moving bedtime earlier by 30-60 minutes for the first two weeks (6pm is the earliest bedtime should be).
When making the transition from 3 – 2 naps, your little one wakes up before 3 pm, consider adding an extra cat nap. If it’s past 3 pm, opt for an early bedtime, ideally around 6 pm. To navigate this transitional phase and prevent your baby from becoming overtired, these guidelines can be helpful, particularly if their naps tend to be shorter.
Sample Catnap Schedule:
Wake at 2 pm: Catnap at 4 pm for 20 mins – Bed at 6:45 pm
Wake at 2:15 pm: Catnap at 4:15 pm for 20 mins – Bed at 7 pm
Wake at 2:30 pm: Catnap at 4:30 pm for 20 mins – Bed at 7:15 pm
Wake at 2:45 pm: Consider a 20-minute nap at 4:45 pm (must wake by 5:15 pm) and then bedtime at 7:30 pm
Wake at 3 pm: No catnap, early bedtime at 6 pm.
Little one’s sleep can be unpredictable, and can vary from day to day. It’s completely normal for your little one to manage two naps on some days and find it trickier on others. Factors such as growth spurts, teething, or changes in routine can influence their sleep. Instead of feeling discouraged by occasional variations, it might be more helpful to observe overall trends in your baby’s sleep habits. Understanding that adjusting to new sleep patterns is a gradual process. The body typically requires 4-6 weeks to fully adapt to these changes in sleep routines. This adjustment period allows your baby’s body clock to synchronise with the new schedule.
If challenges persist, don’t hesitate to get in contact. Every baby is unique, and what works for one may not necessarily work for another.