Making changes to your baby’s nap schedule is a tricky process, and the trickiest one of them all is the switch from three naps a day to two.
In today’s video, I’ll help you decide whether or not your little one’s ready to make the transition, and if so, how to go about it in order to minimize the fallout and keep baby on a happy, healthy sleep schedule.Rather read than watch? Click here.
It can be tricky to figure out when it’s time to transition your baby into a different nap schedule and the trickiest of the transitions is usually moving from three naps a day to two naps a day.
So I’m going to give you some tips today to figure out if she’s ready and how do I do it?
Now, age range, let’s talk that first. So most babies between the ages of three months and let’s say six to seven months are almost always taking three naps a day.
They can really only tolerate about an hour and a half to two hours of time awake before they need to sleep again and hopefully, the naps are long enough so that there’s enough time in the day where you can get three beautiful naps and a fairly early bedtime.
That’s perfection, right? But now, all of a sudden, she’s taking a really great morning nap like two hours, even sometimes two and a half, a decent noonish nap and then really not a good third nap at all and what tends to happen is they either just chat all the way through or sing to themselves or babble away in their cribs for 40 minutes, maybe fall asleep for 20 and it just doesn’t feel like a good quality nap or they just start crying all of a sudden.
In that third nap, they just won’t go down for it and it can be tricky because then you realize, well, she hasn’t really slept since about two o’clock this afternoon and now there’s all this time between that nap and bedtime. She won’t take that third nap anymore so what do we do?
That is usually a good sign that it’s time to transition your baby to two naps a day and this is a little bit of a push and I think that’s important to keep in mind that every transition requires a little bit of a push, right? It’s not as simple as just oh, she’s totally ready, she can handle everything, it’s fine.
Body clocks need a little encouragement and so she’s gonna still seem sleepy at that hour and a half or two hour mark and you’re going to have to push her past that a little bit.
Now, I know if you’ve watched any of my videos before, I hate overtiredness, I’m always telling you to watch out for that and I want us to still watch out for it but I’m going to need you to push her a little bit.
So let’s just try an extra 20 minutes. That’s a great place to start because 20 minutes isn’t long enough that it’s going to push into overtiredness but it’ll just help us get our spacing better, right, because now she’s really going to have to manage longer awake times or this isn’t gonna work, right?
So we’re gonna push that first nap down by about 20 to 30 minutes then we push the second nap down by about 20 to 30 minutes and I would do that for roughly three to four days and then push it a little bit more, maybe 15 minutes more for each of these. So we’re just stepping into this slowly.
Now, the trickiest spot here though is still that third nap. Even though we’re pushing down the day slightly, we still might have too much time between when she slept last and bedtime. So you have two choices and sometimes you do them both. You can plan for a cat nap in the late afternoon. I would use the stroller or the car if you needed to. Stroller would be my first preference and then possibly the car and see if some help with motion will encourage her to just take a little 20, 30 minute cat nap and that’ll take the edge off at least so that we can keep bedtime fairly consistent.
You may also need to move your bedtime earlier and sometimes you need the cat nap and the earlier bedtime but if you can get by with just moving bedtime up, you can even move it up an hour if you had to. Again, I would way rather move bedtime earlier by an hour for a few weeks to prevent overtiredness than try to hang on to this seven o’clock bedtime or eight o’clock bedtime and have her go to bed so overtired that the night is now impacted.
So that is no big deal and that’s not where bedtime will stay. I promise you, you won’t be putting her to bed at six p.m. indefinitely but for the short term, it’s fine to bring that forward.
Now, last tip to keep in mind. Any change to the body clock takes at least four weeks to settle and I think people don’t know that and so they try something for a few days and it’s not going well and so they think she’s not ready and they try to move back. She’s probably ready but the body clock just needs a little time to adjust to these changes. So be patient, know that it’ll come around. Naps may get a little bit shorter for the short term until again her body clock gets in line with this and then she starts taking beautiful naps again.
Thanks so much for watching today. Sleep well.
If your baby, infant or toddler is having trouble sleeping through the night, help is just a click away! The Sleep Sense Program has helped over 57,00 parents to get their kids sleeping 11-12 hours through the night AND taking long, restful naps during the day. If you’re ready to get started today – I’m looking forward to helping you!