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How to Make Naps Transitions As Smooth As Possible

How To Make Naps Transitions As Smooth As Possible

Just when your baby got their groove on in the sleep department, here it goes and changes again!  Those nap transitions will keep you on your toes and you will see changes in sleep consistent with your baby’s growth, development and age.

When do Nap Transitions Happen?

    • 4-3 Nap Transition: Between 3-5 Months

 

    • 3-2 Nap Transition:  Between 6-9 Months

 

    • 2-1 Nap Transition:  Between 15-18 Months

 

  • 1-0 Nap Transition:  Between 3-5 Years Old

sleep needs by age | how much sleep does your baby need | #babysleep #toddlersleep #sleep

Every child is different so of course, the nap transitions and sleep needs by age are exactly that… averages.  

You may be ahead of behind in the sleep curve, and it’s all OK! The best of nap transitions happen organically so you don’t need to feel rushed to get rid of a nap or keep a nap because of age. Rather go by how your baby is acting and sleeping, using age as a guideline.

What are the downfalls of transitioning a baby too early from a nap?

When a baby transitions too early from a nap, you will have a baby who can’t yet tolerate their maximum awake time.  Short answer is that this leads to an over-tired baby!  

In case you need more of a visual of how hard it is to put an overtired baby to sleep, picture a baby that may wake early, have middle of the night wakings, multiple night wakings, and just all over crankiness.

It’s not fun! So I always suggest keeping a nap for as long as you can!

How do you know that it’s time to transition the nap?

  • The easiest telltale sign is refusing the last nap of the day – not just once, but multiple times throughout the week for multiple weeks.
  • The last nap of the day is too late – I don’t recommend a nap past 4 or 5 pm. Any later and your child’s bedtime can be too late potentially causing other issues.
  • Deterioration of sleep from an otherwise good sleeper. If you’re seeing those early wake ups or more middle of the night wakings, it’s possible that the transition is impending.

How long can you expect a nap transition occur?

A nap transition could be short and sweet or rocky and tumultuous.  Just like everything else in your baby’s life, it’s always so hard to guess how it will be until you’re actually knee-deep into the transition.

You can expect two weeks as an average transition time, but some transitions like the transition between 1-0 naps can be wayyyyy longer.  (Read my personal story on why the transition to no naps is considered nap purgatory).

What has your experience been with nap transitions?  Were they smooth or rocky?

Susie Parker

Susie Parker is founder of Sleep Baby Love and a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant through the Family Sleep Institute. When Susie's not ridding the world of sleepless families, she loves spending time with her two girls that have given her a ton of real world sleep experience head on.

This Post Has 9 Comments
  1. My 14.5 month old was refusing his second nap of the day. He was a solid 2 a day napper and we had an awesome system. He would sleep avg. 1.5 hours each nap. This week, since he was refusing his second nap we tested the one nap later in the day. Its been a bust. He goes down easily but not sleeping long. One day he slept 2 hours but the other days 1 to 1.5. I don’t think this is enough. Is this normal or am i pushing him to soon to one nap?

    1. It’s a pretty normal age to start the transition…but start slowly and flip-flop back and forth to keep him well rested. Just an idea!

  2. My son is 4.5 months old. our schedule looks something like this.

    7-8am – wake up
    10:30am – nap
    12pm – nap
    3pm -nap
    6pm- start bedtime routine
    6:30-6:45pm – bed
    12am – feed and back to bed
    4-5am – feed and back to bed
    7-8am – wake up

    He always falls to sleep through the night without a fuss on his own in his crib when placed in the crib wide awake. Our issue is when we put him down to bed at 630-645pm he ALWAYS cries himself to sleep for 20-30 minutes. We’ve had a few times where he has gone to sleep wuthin 15 seconds to 5 minutes so I know it’s possible. His 3 o’clock nap is only ever 30 minutes long and his other naps range from 45-1.5hrs usually but sometimes he does a couple 30 minute naps in place of 1 nap. Anyway, is there anything I can stop to him from crying himself to sleep every night?

    1. Leila, the last nap to bedtime should not be too long. From what I know, if your baby does not STTN or have EWU, bedtime must be earlier. Last nap to bedtime should be less than an hour.

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