Let’s talk about the how and when of nap transitions! This can definitely be a difficult and frustrating time for many babies and parents alike. There are several signs that you can look for that mean your little one is likely ready for a nap transition. There are also average nap transitions times based on age, though these ranges may differ based on your little one’s sleep needs. It’s perfectly ok if your baby is ready for a transition slightly before or after this recommended range. However, if you transition too early, you may notice even more interrupted sleep. It may also take your little one a few weeks to get used to this new routine, and you may have days where you go back to the old routine as they adjust. You may even have days well after your little one has fully transitioned naps where you need to add back in an extra nap if you have a busy day, or your little one is sick, and that’s ok!
First let’s go over newborn sleep. Newborn sleep likely won’t have much of a pattern for the first 4 months or so. Nap lengths and number of naps per day will vary. By around 5-6 months, most babies will settle into somewhat of a routine with 3-4 naps per day. Cat naps are still so normal at this age! Many babies won’t begin to lengthen their naps and get into a more solid routine until they are on one nap, and some babies never do based on temperament and sleep needs!
Signs it may be time to drop a nap:
Baby is fighting nap time or taking a very long time to fall asleep, or taking a very short nap
The last nap of the day is taking forever to get, causing bedtime to get later and later
You may notice new nighttime patterns of interrupted sleep, split nights, or early rising
Average Nap Transition Times
3-4 Naps (4th may be a cat nap)
Drop to 3 Naps (3rd may be short)
Drop to 2 Naps
Drop to 1 Nap
No Nap but Earlier Bedtime!
How to drop a nap:
Gradually extend your little one’s wake time
Extend the first nap if needed with a contact nap or nursing
Baby may need extra stimulation during wake times to stay awake longer- get outside, offer snacks, sensory play
Keep baby in natural light during wake times
Bedtime may need to move slightly earlier while baby adjusts
You may still have some days with our old schedule while you transition and baby gets used to the new routine
As I said before, these age ranges may vary for each baby, and you may take one step forward and one step back. That’s why it’s called a transition! It just takes a minute, but your little one (and you!) will get used to this new routine.
Follow me on Instagram @littlebeansleep for more tips, advice, and educational content!
Little Bean Sleep