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Hey, hey!

I'm Michele DiSpirito

I've been where you are.

Tired. No. Exhausted! Frustrated and confused as to what to do with an adorable little one that just. won't. sleep.

I'm a mom to three boys ages 6 and under, wife to Kyle for 17 years, and all about getting some good sleep for us all! While struggling to make sleep consistent and a reality with my oldest, I scoured the internet for answers and was left more frustrated and confused than when I started. I wanted a clear path; someone I trusted to just tell me what to do, how to do it, and when. What I wanted was what I'm here to be for you today - a Pediatric Sleep Consultant.

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3 Signs it's Time to Transition from 3 to 2 Naps (and how to do it!)

The transition from three to two naps typically happens around six to eight months old and there are a few signs of when to know for sure that it is time.

>> Want a guide to walk you through each transition and sleep regression? Download your free Nap Transition and Sleep Regression Guide here! <<

1. The first 2 naps are longer and there’s no time for the 3rd.

One of the signs is that your little one starts taking two really long naps and you just run out of time for a third nap. If you did do the third nap, then their bedtime would be later than eight o'clock, and then it's too late for bedtime. Even eight o'clock is a bit later than I prefer for this age. So, if it gets to where the other two naps are long enough and you if you put that third nap in and bedtime is going to be after 7:30, then you know “okay, we're just going to have to either do an early bedtime or (again if their naps are long enough) it might just be regular bedtime.”

It may happen that one day they're taking two naps and then the next day it's three. I think that that is totally fine to have a little back and forth for this transition and the ones prior only.

2. Harder time falling asleep

Another sign is you're noticing it's taking them a little longer to fall asleep for their naps and/or bedtime can be a little bit more of a hassle.

This is because they're not quite tired enough. They're needing a little bit more awake time between their naps. So a little bit of a stretch.

It’s good to note too when you're on a three-nap schedule, that third nap typically is a cat nap. At this age, our goal is a total of three to four hours of daytime sleep. However that's divvied up among the naps is totally fine. Typically, once they're closer to that six-month mark on three naps, the first two naps are the longer ones, and then that third nap is just a cat nap to tie them over until they get to bedtime.

With the third nap being a cat nap and it being later in the day, it’s often harder to get it to happen in the crib. It is 100% okay to do that nap on the go. Because it also typically falls around the timeframe that you're trying to get dinner ready or you know, life is just a bit more chaotic around that timeframe, strapping the baby in the carrier is totally fine.

When it's time to get rid of it, the best way to transition is to stretch those wake windows a little bit longer so that they have more time awake, and then they're tired enough to get to sleep for those naps and for bedtime. You may end up still having to do an early bedtime, but it is so much more important to have an earlier bedtime than it is to have a third nap and a late bedtime. Nighttime sleep is just so much more restorative and beneficial. They obviously need a nap, but always choose, if there's a doubt, night sleep over a nap, even if it starts earlier than usual.

3. Short Naps

Another sign is shorter naps.

A little caveat, though. At this age, your little one may or may not have a pretty consistent nap schedule.

This is still pretty young y'all. It's okay if naps aren't shaped up yet. It's not typically until around five months old that little ones are able to consolidate their daytime sleep very well. When I'm working with families of four-month-olds or five-month-olds, I am sure to let them know multiple times that it is okay if it takes upwards of a month for naps to be ironed out completely. Now that doesn't mean that doing the nap training doesn't show improvement along the way, but we have to allow a lot of grace and just give them lots of practice to get those naps down.

If you don't really have that foundation, your little one is still figuring out that whole nap thing in general, these signs might be a little bit weird. If that's the case, and they're in that six to eight-month age range, you can get them on a two-nap schedule. That's another great thing about this transition, you move to a solid nap schedule. Now bedtime is still going to be flexible; it's the best way to overcome over tiredness.

Tips for the 2-Nap Schedule

1. Have a consistent morning wake-up time

Once they're on the two-nap schedule, you want to have a consistent wake-up time every day.

This means, for 7 am wake-up, that if your little one wakes before 7 am, you don't get them out of bed and get them ready for the day until seven. You can definitely use a sleep training technique that works best for your family, but the day does not start until 7 am.

On the flip side, that means that if they’re still asleep at 7 am, you have to wake them up at 7 am.

2. Use a set schedule for naps

The daily naps are set in stone. So, you're only having to do the math once a day to know when bedtime will be, instead of between every sleep.

That's a nice reprieve!

3. Use wake windows to determine your nap schedule

To make the schedule, use wake windows but you’re not having to recalculate them every day.

Your schedule’s based on a consistent morning wake-up and the wake windows of two and a half (2.5) hours, three (3) hours, and three (3) hours when they're first transitioning to two naps.

So, with a 7 am wake-up, your schedule would look like this:

7 am

Wake Up

9:30 am

Nap 1 (1.5-2 hours)

2 pm

Nap 2 (1.5-2 hours)

3 hours after getting up from Nap 2


As a bedtime example, if they sleep from two to four, then bedtime is at seven.

4. The last wake window is variable - use an early bedtime when you need to!

If it was a terrible nap day, then you will shorten that last wake window by 15 to 30 minutes or so. Or to an hour if it was a complete crap day. You can definitely make that last like window only two hours two and a half hours, two hours and 45 minutes whatever you might need to be able to help them catch up on sleep.

In Conclusion

Any nap transition can take up to six weeks for it to be fully ironed out. That doesn't mean it's six weeks until you see any light at the end of the tunnel. You'll start seeing improvement and consistency within a week or two.

Of course, if your child is the one that transitions smoothly, they just naturally moved into this new pattern, then it’ll be a lot easier. But, if you're having to give more of a nudge, then it can take a little bit longer. But it doesn't mean that they don't need it. It just means that they're making that adjustment.

Next week, I will be talking about that transition from two naps to one nap and how to make that happen, how to help that transition when it's going to be.

I hope you found this helpful. If you have any questions about it, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I'd be more than happy to help you! If you're wanting a full-on personalized sleep plan, I would absolutely love to do that for you as well.


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