You’ve finally found your groove…your 8-month-old has been taking solid naps for a few months. It seems like all the pieces of this parenting gig are falling into place.
Then one day, your child decides they just aren’t going to take that final catnap anymore and then they are awake for far too long and are exhausted by bedtime. Or maybe you put them down for their second nap of the day and they just cry and cry only to fall asleep for 20 minutes and then refuse to nap longer. Does this sound like what’s going on at your home?
Then you may be experiencing the 3-2 nap transition.
Although your child will experience a few different nap transitions in the first couple years of their life, the 3-2 nap transition tends to catch many parents off guard because it happens soon after finally finding their nap rhythm. Most children end up on two naps at around 8 months but this can happen slightly earlier or slightly later. I’ve seen some babies on two naps as early as 6 months and some still on three naps at close to 10 months of age.
Common signs that your child is ready to take out a nap are: fighting going down when they previously did not, significantly shortening one or more naps for a few days in a row, or completely refusing the final nap of the day thus staying awake many hours before bedtime.
So what can you do about it? I always suggest to let things go for a few days. You want to make sure you don’t force a transition on your child when they could be teething, ill, or just having an off couple of days. If you’ve noticed your child really showing the signs they are ready, it’s time to lengthen their wake windows. Most children stay awake for about 2 hours between naps at 6 months of age, but when they drop to two naps they’ll have to be awake longer.
A common schedule is 2-3-4 or two hours between waking and their first nap, three hours between first and second nap and then four hours between the second nap and bedtime. For many children this ends up with naps in the general realm of about 9 and 1:30/2. If you find that your child is really sensitive to being overtired, or having such a long wake window at the tail end of the day, then try a schedule that’s a little closer to 2.5-3.5-3.5 with naps around 9:30, 2:30 and then bed time around 3.5 hours later.
You may also find that some days during this transition your child still needs three naps, then the next day they may only need two, and then back to three. Remember this is a general guide and every child is different. So, pay attention to the sleep clues your child is giving and don’t worry if it doesn’t happen overnight.
Nicole Cannon, The Sleepy Mama, is a certified sleep consultant through the International Maternity Institute. Although she had previously done sleep work with families she nannied for, it wasn't until Nicole had her first child in 2013 that she was able to experience how difficult sleep deprivation can be on both children and parents. Now a mom of two, Nicole uses a variety of sleep techniques and methods with families to help everyone get more rest.
For more information about Nicole, or to schedule a consultation, visit her website:
The Sleepy Mama