Transitioning from 3 naps to 2
So there you are thinking that you have just about got the hang of this napping lark... after all you are doing it three times a day, when over time you notice they are starting to get a bit harder, or not happen at all.
Here comes the next transition. But don't panic this one is often a smooth transition and can happen quite naturally.
It is usually around 8-10 months. Before 8 months there is still a need for 3 naps to ensure that they can get their daytime hours in, whilst keeping their wakeful windows suitably short. However, by 10 months most babies will find these wakeful windows naturally lengthening enough to get them through the day on two naps and hence it’s gets harder to manage all three naps.
Typically, its becomes harder to make nap 3 happen.... nap 3 is usually the shortest nap anyway, more a cat nap and it becomes either a hard settle, or so short that its not worth having.
Alternatively, another nap may become a struggle to settle somewhere else in the day. This happens because as timings and wakeful windows are adjusting we may be starting nap 1 when they are not ready, or similarly they need a longer wakeful window from nap 1 to nap 2.
We are still looking for 3 hours but now over two naps. Once your little one has settled into a new routine that gives them their three hours then you are mostly there, and just need it to settle in.
In a perfect world we'd hope for 1.5hrs in each nap as that spreads the load nicely and get them through the day without any over-tiredness creeping in. However, it doesn't have to be exact and a split of 1hr and 2hrs is fine... just keep an eye on wakeful windows which are around three hours at this stage.
If you have one of those lovely 7pm-7am sleepers, then timings for the two naps sit well starting 9am/9.30am and 1pm/1.30pm.
There could be a need for them to catch up on sleep, so just allow things to be fluid till they are settled. It all may take a few days / weeks to find the rhythm and the new naps may move and shift then settle. Some days you may find you have more disturbed nights or they may sleep longer.
Have a back-up plan if naps don't work so well.... if days run short and you get, for instance, 2hr 30 then run bedtime half an hour early that night. Bedtimes can be moved forward up to an hour without any lasting implication so compensate for being short in the day by catching up at night.
If naps have run short but you keep them up to normal bedtime then they will likely get a second wind and resist bedtime, or they'll crash out. Crashing out is fine once or twice, but if it becomes a habit then it may interfere with their ability to self-settle.
If your child is waking up early then it’s usually a sign of over-tiredness, so initially the 3hrs over 2 naps may not be enough.... the early starts or broken nights may be leaving them short of sleep so work on resettles when there is early rising, or, shift the naps earlier so that bedtime can run early to allow time for catch up overnight.