Going through the 3 to 2 nap transition can be a bit murky when you don’t have a plan!

In this episode, I’m talking about the following:
– When the 3 to 2 nap transition usually happens
– How you know when your little one is ready to drop down to 2 naps
– How to navigate the transition when your little one is ready
– What to do if your little one isn’t ever giving you consistent naps
– My different experiences transitioning my own kids to a 2 nap schedule

Have a listen!

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EVA: (00:04)
Hey there, you’re listening to the, My Sleeping Baby podcast, which is all about baby and child sleep. I’m so excited to teach you how you can get your little ones sleeping so that you can sleep too and enjoy parenthood to its fullest. I’m Eva Klein, your resident’s sleep expert, mom of three, founder of the Sleep Bible online coaching program, and lover of all things sleep and motherhood. If you’re looking for tangible solutions for your little one sleep woes or you simply want to learn more, this podcast is for you. For more information, check out mysleepingbaby.com and you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook @mysleepingbaby.

All right, let’s talk all about the 3 to 2 nap transition. This can be a tricky one. It can get a little bit murky when your little one is going from three naps to two naps.

EVA: (00:55)
So it is important to listen up. If you’re the little one is even about to go through the 3 to 2 nap transition or is in the thick of this transition, because you want to make sure that you’re navigating this 3-2 nap transition as seamlessly as possible. So generally speaking, I would say that most babies are ready to drop that third nap somewhere in the eight to eight and a half month. Mark, that seems to be the average. There are definitely babies that are ready earlier that by the seven and a half month mark or so maybe even by seven months, they are ready. And then there are definitely babies that are holding on to three naps until they get closer to nine months. So there is a range in terms of what is normal, but I would say by far the most common adverse that common age is that eight to eight and a half month mark.

EVA: (01:43)
And typically what triggers that 3-2 nap transition to a two nap schedule is your little one, simply getting older and being able to pull off bigger wake windows. And when their wake windows get to that three to three and a half hour mark there just simply, isn’t going to be room in the day for that third nap anymore. So this is often that age that a lot of parents are so excited for because it means that your little one schedule is going to become a little bit more set. And when I say set, I don’t mean that no matter what your little one is napping at the exact same times, every single day, it still needs to be taking into account week windows. But what it means is that there are less moving parts to your little one schedule. And so it’s much easier to get much more consistency.

EVA: (02:38)
Then you can get what that three nap schedule. Now that’s definitely the most common scenario that triggers the 3 to 2 nap transition, but there are definitely others. So another scenario that I see sometimes is that the baby, no matter what, no matter what kind of changes you make to your daytime schedule for the earlier naps, your little one refuses to take that third nap. And I have seen that happen sometimes that despite the tweaking that we make to the schedule, despite all the help that we might offer that baby to fall asleep for that third nap, despite all the various different timing changes that we might experiment with that third nap just isn’t happening anymore. And so of course, when that happens, we have no choice, but to get your little one onto a two nap schedule. So that would mean stretching out, grow little ones, wake windows to make the, to nap schedule actually work a third scenario that you want to look out for.

EVA: (03:40)
That could be a sign that your little one is ready to go down to. A two nap schedule is if your little ones, three naps suddenly all become too short, right? So remember our goal. We want to be seeing two of those three naps, be nice and long, well over an hour a piece, but, and if that’s happening and then suddenly your little ones naps have gotten shorter and rather than getting a couple longer naps in the day, your little one’s giving you, you know, three tiny 30 or 45 minute catnaps, that actually might also be a sign that you need to be increasing their wake time and ultimately dropping that third nap because over while over tiredness is a very well-known culprit of short naps under tiredness is also a culprit of short naps. And so if your little one is just not up for periods of time, there are long enough, it means that he’s not going to build up enough sleep pressure for him to be able to sleep past that 30 or 45 minute mark, if especially if that’s what he was pulling off beforehand.

EVA: (04:50)
And so if your little ones nice long naps has suddenly become short, take that as a very clear sign that your little one probably needs more awake time. And that might lead to the dropping of that third nap. And if that’s the case, don’t be afraid to keep your little one up a little bit longer, even if they are looking tired, because you have to remember that if your little one is looking tired soon after waking up from their 30 minute micro nap, it doesn’t mean that they’re ready to necessarily go back to sleep. It’s more likely a reflection of the fact that that previous nap was only 30 minutes to begin with. And so to get you out of this cycle of chasing these micro naps all day long, sometimes what you really have to do is keep your baby up even a little bit longer, despite the fact that they might look tired.

EVA: (05:45)
But I will say that for the most part until your little one is able to pull off those three to three and a half hour awake windows specifically before the second nap. And before bedtime, you’re going to want to hold on to that third nap for a little bit longer until those wake windows get bigger, because here’s the thing here’s specifically what you want to be avoiding. You want to be avoiding regularly getting your little one down for bedtime in the sixes, if you can’t. And the reason for that is because if your little one is waking up for the day and the sevens napping twice, and then D is down for the night for six o’clock, that’s going to set you up for a very long night, which can get you extra night wakings. The other possibility is that your little one might sleep 11 hours around the clock, but then that means that your little one’s six 30 bedtime could easily get you a five 30 wake up and a completely well rested baby.

EVA: (06:51)
And for very obvious reasons, you don’t want that. And so in that scenario, I would say, don’t be afraid of offering your little one, a cat nap. I know that there is all this advice out there, you know, on the internet that might say something along the lines of never nap your baby past five o’clock. And that makes me want to scream because my response to that is never nap. A baby of what age past five o’clock would I want my three-year-olds napping past five o’clock no, because then that means that he’s not going to go to bed until 10 could a four month old be napping past five. O’clock a hundred percent because that four month old likely needs to be sleeping every 90 minutes or so. And so that’s why this general advice doesn’t it drives me insane because it doesn’t take into context the age of the baby, as well as the schedule that this baby is on, because it goes without saying that a baby who’s waking up for the day at six 30 in the morning is going to have a bit of a different looking schedule than a baby who’s starting their day at 8:00 AM.

EVA: (08:03)
Right? So that’s why I would say generally speaking, you want to take that general advice with a grain of salt and recognize it. It might not apply to your particular baby in this particular stage. And so if you have a baby that is six or seven months and needs to be napping every two to two and a half hours, and it means that that third nap is happening at five or five 30, don’t sweat it. If it makes you feel any better, JJ, my son was regularly and I mean, regularly daily taking his last nap around 5 15, 5 30, 5 45. And it meant that yeah, he would not from say five 30 until six. And then would it go down for the night, you know, somewhere between eight and eight 30, depending on his age and depending on, you know, his specific patterns at the, and it was totally fine.

EVA: (08:56)
And it worked. And obviously it goes without saying that he slept like a champ because, well, he’s my baby. And he had no choice, right? The, the shoe man’s kids definitely have shoes here. Otherwise I wouldn’t be putting coherent sentences together right now. So anyways, don’t be afraid about doing a later cat nap, avoid doing a regular bedtime in the sixes. If you can look some days, it is going to be unavoidable. You might just have one of those days where the third adapt doesn’t happen or the schedule is off. And you’re going to want to get your little one down for the night for six or six 30. No problem. You just don’t want it to be a regular occurrence. If that’s what’s happening, then you’re probably going to want to try and squeeze in I cat nap near the end of the day, to be able to bump your bedtime.

EVA: (09:47)
Um, a little bit later. Now, a couple more, just quick things I want to mention about this specific 3 to 2 nap transition. So the first thing is that just like almost anything else that has to do with babies, your little ones, wake windows, when they’re on a to nap schedule are, they’re going to look a little bit different from baby to baby. So you might have a friend whose baby is a week older or a week younger than yours and their schedule might look completely different. And that’s okay because we’re dealing with babies here, not robots. In fact, in Moonah and Eliana transitioned to a three nap schedule at a completely different type, sorry. They transitioned to a two nap schedule at a completely different time. Eliana my middle child. She held on to her third nap until she was eight months and three weeks. And I remember that because trust me, I was desperate to get her down to two naps.

EVA: (10:48)
I was very patiently waiting for her to be ready because when you’re nearing the end of that 3 to 2 transition, the third nap is a pain. I get it, especially if you have an older child or older kids and it’s four or five o’clock and they’re home and they’re running around and they need dinner and they need to be entertained because they’re likely not at school at that point or in daycare at that point. And yet you still have to worry about getting your baby down for a third nap. It’s a huge pain and I get it. But Eliana at the time, her wake windows were just too small to be able to fit in a third nap. And she was a very sensitive baby when it came to her schedule. And if she got the least bit overtired from each wine to stretch her out, it would backfire so hard that I would, I would forever regret even trying to do that.

EVA: (11:44)
And so I had to wait until she was ready and she was ready by eight months and three weeks. Um, and Muna on the other hands, she was on two naps. Well, before she was eight months, I think she was seven or seven and a half months. If memory serves me correctly, I will totally admit that a Nuna is now 10 and a half. And she was that baby where I literally knew nothing about sleep because she was just such a great sleeper that I didn’t really have to open up a book and learn anything. She kind of just made it work. And so if memory serves me correctly, she was definitely taking two nice, solid adapts. By the time she was seven or seven and a half months, and she made it work. But I do just want to emphasize that that’s obviously the rarity, not the norm, but the point I’m trying to make here is that no two spins, no two babies are going to have the exact same looking schedule at all times.

EVA: (12:41)
Yeah. There might be a lot of overlap and they might look similar to, let’s say the other babies that are of some of a similar age range to your own, but don’t worry about following an exact schedule that your little one, your little one’s friends might be following. Because again, we are dealing with babies here, not robots and wake windows are always going to look different from baby to baby. So that’s the second last thing that I want to mention. The last thing that I want to mention about the 3 to 2 nap transition is that for this transition to go as smoothly as possible, your little line needs to be regularly giving you two solid 90 plus minute naps in order for them to be able to get through the day without getting overtired. And the only way that they’re going to be able to consistently do this, the vast majority of the time is if they know how to fall asleep by themselves, if your little one needs help falling asleep, maybe they need to be rocked or fed or padded.

EVA: (13:49)
Then naturally it means that they are going to struggle to give you those consistently nice, long naps, that they are perfectly capable of giving you. And they might continue to take crappy catnaps throughout the day because they don’t know how to put themselves back to sleep at the end of a sleep cycle. And so there is no better time, like the present for your little one to learn how to self-soothe, how to fall asleep by themselves so that they can be consistently giving you amazing, solid naps so that they’re not overtired. They can sleep like champs at night and you can feel like a functioning human again. And so if you haven’t checked out my free masterclass on how to get your little one consistently sleeping 11 to 12 hours at night, so you can feel like a functioning human, please check it out in my show notes, go and grab a spot.

EVA: (14:48)
You can go and watch it when the time is convenient for you. It’s going to take you through. Step-by-step exactly what you need to do to get your little one sleeping like a champ. So to sum up about the 3 to 2 nap transition, let’s get a likely happened somewhere in the eight to eight and a half months. Ish mark, though, it could happen a little bit earlier. It could happen a little bit later. It is usually triggered by your little one’s wake windows, just getting too big to fit in that third nap though. Sometimes it is triggered by your little one’s naps, just being too small or leave your little one refusing to take that third cat nap at, um, at any time. But in the meantime, before your little one is ready for that two nap schedule, don’t be afraid to add that third cat nap in near the end of the day.

EVA: (15:41)
Ignore all those. Well-intentioned all that well-intentioned advice on Google telling you to avoid a cat nap past five o’clock. As I said, that’s likely not going to be advice that is going to apply to your little one here either way when your little one is ready for this transition, I find that it is the most exciting one, because it means that your little one is ready for that more consistent schedule that you are likely craving. And you can finally say goodbye to that pain in the butt. Third cat nap, that by the end of it is a really, really annoying to have to make sure it still happens. So I hope that this was helpful. And once again, check out my free masterclass that will teach you how to get your little one sleeping through the night, like a champ that is about it. Have a wonderful day everyone.

Thanks guys for listening. Have a great day. Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, leave a review and share this episode with a friend who can benefit from it. I also love hearing from my listeners. So feel free to DM me on Instagram @mysleepingbaby, or send me an email at eva@mysleepingbaby.com until next time have a wonderful restful nights.

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