Transitioning From 3 Naps To 2: Signs Your Baby Is Ready

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Transitioning from 3 naps to 2 is a significant milestone in your baby’s development. Signs your baby is ready include reduced fussiness with longer awake times, shorter or skipped naps, and consistent night sleep. Understanding these cues ensures a smooth transition for both you and your baby.

As your baby grows, their sleep patterns evolve, reflecting changes in their developmental needs. One of the key transitions in the first year of life is the shift from three naps to two. This change usually occurs between 6 to 9 months of age but can vary depending on individual development and activity levels. Recognizing the signs that your baby is ready to make this shift is crucial for their health and well-being, as well as for your peace of mind.

Baby Sleep Patterns

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Know The Baby Sleep Patterns

Before delving into the transition, it’s important to understand the fundamentals of baby sleep patterns. Newborns sleep up to 17 hours a day, spread over several short periods. As they grow, these sleep segments consolidate into longer periods. By the time they are ready to transition from three naps to two, most babies have developed a relatively predictable pattern of sleep, including longer stretches at night and distinct naps during the day.

Signs Your Baby Is Ready for Fewer Naps

The transition from three naps to two is not determined by age alone. Instead, it’s influenced by signs of readiness observed in your baby’s behavior and sleep patterns. Here are key indicators to watch for:

  1. Reduced Fussiness with Longer Awake Times: Babies ready to drop a nap can stay awake longer without becoming overly cranky or fussy. They can engage in more extended periods of play and interaction, showing that their wakefulness tolerance has increased.
  2. Shorter or Skipped Naps: Your baby might start to resist one of their naps, usually the last one, by taking a shorter nap or skipping it entirely. This is a strong sign that they’re ready to adjust to a new schedule.
  3. Consistent Night Sleep: Before dropping a nap, many babies consolidate their nighttime sleep, sleeping through most of the night without interruptions. This increased efficiency in night sleep reduces their need for daytime sleep.
  4. Struggle to Fall Asleep at Regular Nap Times: If your baby is suddenly struggling to fall asleep at their usual nap times or is waking up very soon after falling asleep, it might be time to consider adjusting their nap schedule.
  5. Change in Appetite: Some parents notice a change in feeding patterns when their baby is ready to transition to fewer naps. This can be due to the shifting schedule and the natural development of your baby’s appetite.

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Making the Transition Smooth

Once you’ve recognized the signs that your baby is ready, here are steps to ensure a smooth transition:

  1. Gradually Adjust Nap Times: Start by gradually pushing the morning nap later and adjusting the afternoon nap accordingly. This helps your baby slowly adapt to the new schedule.
  2. Offer Quiet Time: If your baby is resistant to dropping a nap, offer a quiet time during one of their usual nap periods. This can include reading or cuddling, which allows for rest without sleep.
  3. Monitor Nighttime Sleep: Pay close attention to how the transition affects nighttime sleep. It’s common for there to be an adjustment period where night sleep might temporarily be disrupted.
  4. Be Flexible: Every baby is unique, and some may take longer to adjust than others. Be prepared to be flexible with the schedule and adjust based on your baby’s cues.
  5. Maintain a Routine: Keeping a consistent routine for wake-up times, meals, and bedtime can help your baby adjust to their new nap schedule more easily.

Common Challenges and Solutions

Transitioning from three naps to two is not without its challenges. Here are a few common issues parents face and suggestions on how to address them:

  • Increased Crankiness: Some babies may become crankier during this transition. Offering extra cuddles, engaging in calming activities, and ensuring they’re getting enough nighttime sleep can help.
  • Disrupted Night Sleep: If dropping a nap leads to disrupted night sleep, consider temporarily moving bedtime earlier to help your baby catch up on sleep.
  • Inconsistency: Some days your baby may need two naps, and on others, three. It’s okay to be flexible and follow your baby’s lead during this transition period.
Making the Transition Smooth

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How long does it take to transition from 3 naps to 2?

The transition from 3 naps to 2 varies per baby but typically takes 1-2 weeks. A gradual adjustment to their nap schedule helps smooth the process, allowing babies to adapt to longer awake periods and a consolidated sleep pattern during this transitional phase.

How do I know if my baby is ready for 2 naps?

Signs your baby is ready for 2 naps include longer awake periods without fussiness, resistance to one of the naps, notably the last nap, and more consolidated nighttime sleep. These changes indicate an evolving sleep need that can be met with fewer, but longer, naps.

How do you know when a baby is ready to drop the third nap?

A baby is ready to drop the third nap when they show reluctance or difficulty sleeping for one of their naps, usually, in the late afternoon one can stay happily awake for longer stretches, and their nighttime sleep becomes more solid and uninterrupted.

At what age do babies stop taking 2 naps?

Most babies transition from 2 naps to 1 between 12 to 18 months. The readiness for this change is indicated by consistent resistance to one of the naps, extended awake times without becoming overtired, and maintaining a stable mood and energy level throughout the day.


The transition from three naps to two is a significant but natural part of your baby’s development. By staying attuned to the signs of readiness and approaching the transition with patience and flexibility, you can help your baby adjust to their new schedule with minimal stress. Remember, every baby is different, and it’s important to follow your instincts and your baby’s cues during this period of change. With the right approach, you and your baby will smoothly move to the next stage of their sleep development, paving the way for healthy sleep habits that will benefit the entire family.


Dusty is the owner and editor of As Mom Sees It, a product review and family matters blog. She is the mother of two in Ohio and has partnered with companies like Nike, Verizon, Kingston Technology. You can find her on Twitter at @AsMomSeesIt.