Before I share these important tips with you, let’s first discuss IF your baby is ready to transition from 3 naps to 2.
Nice and early bedtime
- Once you decide to drop the 3rd nap, you need to move bedtime earlier so baby isn’t awake too long. (More details on this below.)
- Most babies napping twice per day settle into a bedtime of 6-7 pm.
- When moving your baby’s bedtime, it’s best to go slowly. This article walks you through changing your baby’s bedtime.
Monitor awake times
- 6-8 month olds need awake times of 2-3 hours. 9-12 month olds need awake times of 2.5-3.5 hours.
- Typically, the shortest awake time of the day is between morning wake up and your baby’s first nap. Each awake time gets longer by 15-30 minutes. If this is too much for you to keep up with, stick to a consistent awake time throughout the day. For example, keep all awake times at 2.5 hours for your 7 month old.
- If your baby is used to shorter awake times, push naps later by just 10-15 minutes every 2 days and see how she responds.
Wean down the 3rd nap
- Once your baby is ready to drop the 3rd nap, wean her off it slowly.
- Limit her 3rd nap to 20 minutes for one week. Then cut it down to 15 minutes the next week. Some babies might need a 10 minute cat nap as well. I find it’s easiest to have this 3rd cat nap in the stroller, car or baby carrier.
- As you wean off this nap, keep adjusting bedtime slightly to ensure you’re sticking to the recommended awake times.
- As your baby lengthens naps 1 & 2, the 3rd nap may push bedtime too late. If that’s the case, skip the 3rd nap and move bedtime earlier.
Measure progress by the week, not by the day
In my years working in the pediatric hospital setting, we always measured progress by the week, never by the day. Simply put, when deciding if something is truly a new trend (and worth freaking out over) make sure it’s been happening for many days.
A helpful tips I give clients of my naps program is to put a note on your fridge every Sunday. Quickly jot down how many naps your baby is taking and for how long. Each Sunday, have a look at last week’s note. This helps you see real patterns.