When to Drop to 2 Naps: 3 Telltale Signs

It would be SO nice if our babies could just tell us exactly when to drop to 2 naps, wouldn’t it? It would take all the guess work, and playing detective, and obsessing discussing with your partner, out of it. And honestly, this feels true for most things baby-related. 

 

However, sadly they just don’t seem to have this skill set. BUT that’s where I come in! After having 4 babies of my own, working with thousands of babies all over the world, and reading ALL there is to know about baby sleep, I have answers to your most relevant questions and topics surrounding when to drop to 2 naps: 

 

How to know when your baby is ready to drop to 2 naps  

How to drop to 2 naps 

2 nap vs 3 nap schedule 

Managing the challenges of dropping to 2 naps

 

Here we go! 

 

How to Know When Your Baby is Ready to Drop to 2 Naps 

 

6 to 9 month old baby before a nap |The Peaceful Sleeper

 

Sometime between 6 and 9 months is when most babies drop to 2 naps. Since this is a pretty big window, and every baby is different, you’re going to need a bit more information. 

 

Besides age, there are some tell-tale signs your little one is ready to drop to 2 naps. And in case it’s not obvious, they are not long delightful walks on the beach. 

 

  • Naps are getting shorter

You worked SO hard to lengthen those naps and were quite pleased with your three solid nap schedule when BOOM, the second nap starts to become shorter and the third nap is harder than wrangling a hangry toddler into a car seat. 

 

  • Nights become worse than being forced to sit through the Superbowl with no snacks 

This can look like a bedtime that is increasingly cutting into your “adult time” or, even worse, early morning wakings! 

 

  • It’s all a dumpster fire 

Sleep has totally fallen apart and you’re flashing back to those newborn days. 

 

Baby awake before a nap |The Peaceful Sleeper

 

If any of these three situations sounds like you, it’s likely time to drop to 2 naps. 

 

How to Drop to 2 Naps 

 

Let’s break down the scenarios above: 

 

Naps are getting shorter: 

 

This can happen because your baby is undertired as they are getting developmentally ready for just 2 naps a day instead of 3. 

 

The solution here is to lengthen your wake windows before the second nap. This will likely result in little to no time left for that third nap, which means it’s going to drop off. 

 

If it’s a little clunky and you’re risking your baby being overtired because of the loss of that third nap, just bump bedtime earlier. If you’re wondering how earlier, I really can’t say because every baby is different. It could be 15 min or even an hour. But trial and error will help you with this, or book a consultation. Taking the guess work out of it and just having someone tell you the answers can be such a pleasant relief. 

 

 

Nights are no fun:  

 

When bedtime is getting later and/or those ugly early morning wakings have reared their heads, it’s time to drop that third nap. Stat. 

 

Just push those wake windows so the third nap is gone. The two naps should stay nice and long, which can take some tweaking. Again, this is where a consultation can be a quick and easy fix. 

 

 

All sleep is a disaster: 

 

This is the most fun of all three scenarios. There just doesn’t seem to be anything that’s working, no aspect of sleep is “solid” and you’re at your wit’s end. 

 

Just drop that third nap and move to a 2-3-4 schedule ASAP. (And if you’re not familiar with a “2-3-4 schedule” it just means that the first wake window of the day is 2 hours, the wake window after the first nap is 3 hours, and the wake window before bed is 4 hours.) 

 

Now, let’s remember that every baby is different, so it’s unlikely that an exact 2-3-4 schedule will work perfectly for your baby. But definitely use it as a starting point and a guide, and tweak those wake windows to find your baby’s sweet spot. 

 

Want a nice slow general approach to dropping that nap? Check out this Instagram Reel:

How to drop a nap Instagram Reel |The Peaceful Sleeper

 

2 Nap vs 3 Nap Schedule 

 

It can be hard to wrap your head around changing your day and accommodating a loss of a nap. I totally get it. It can throw off your whole daily schedule, including eating times. So here is a ROUGH outline of a 2 Nap Schedule and a 3 Nap Schedule. Note that “rough” is in caps because (I really can’t say it enough), every. baby. is. different. 

 

So use this as a guide only, and know that it’s totally fine if your schedule is completely different. All that matters is that you have a schedule that works for you and your baby. 

 

3 nap schedule: 

Wake  7am
Bottle/Nurse
Play
Solids
Nap 1 9am 
Bottle/Nurse
Play
Nap 2  12pm 
Bottle/Nurse 
Play 
Nap 3  3pm 
Bottle/Nurse 
Play
Solids (Dinner)
Bedtime Routine 
Asleep  7pm 

 

Baby playing before a 2nd nap |The Peaceful Sleeper

 

2 nap schedule: 

 

Wake  7 am 
Bottle/Nurse
Play
Solids
Nap 1 9am
Bottle/Nurse
Play
Solids
Nap 2 2pm
Bottle/Nurse
Play
Solids (Dinner)
Bedtime Routine
Asleep  7pm 

 

I feel the need to reiterate that this is JUST a sample schedule. A guide that is an example of what COULD work. It is most definitely not an instruction manual or “recipe”. And you certainly don’t have to follow a “Eat Play Sleep” format if that doesn’t work for your baby. “Play Eat Sleep” can also work great! Feeding before sleep doesn’t necessarily mean you are feeding TO sleep, it can just be feeding BEFORE sleep and that will NOT negatively impact independent sleep skills. 

 

Eat play sleep Instagram Reel |The Peaceful Sleeper

 

 

Managing the Challenges of Dropping to 2 Naps 

 

As with all elements of your baby’s sleep journey, there are going to be bumps in the road. Here are some common ones and how to navigate them: 

 

During the process of dropping to 2 naps, you might find your baby having “false starts” at night.  (This is where your baby wakes up within the first couple hours after falling asleep for bedtime, and it happens because they are overtired.) If this happens, just bump bedtime 30 min earlier.

 

Dropping naps, in general, are less like an “in the blink of an eye” situation and more of a “slow and steady wins the race” situation. And by “slow and steady” I mean 2-4 agonizing weeks. The best thing you can do is stay patient and consistent. 

 

During the process, you may find it’s best to offer that third nap a few days a week, which is totally fine. However, it might be a struggle for your baby to take that nap. If this is the case, don’t hesitate to pull out all the stops to make that nap happen. If your baby already has a solid sleep foundation and independent sleep skills, then rocking to sleep, a contact nap, or a car nap here and there, isn’t going to throw them off or “ruin” all your hard work. 

 

Even when that third nap is fully dropped, it can take a while for your baby to adjust to the new schedule. This means you should be prepared for more fussiness than usual during the day. My recommendation here is to keep that coffee pot full and plan some extra play dates to make the days as enjoyable as possible for you both! 

 

Baby awake in the crib as father tries to drop to only 2 naps |The Peaceful Sleeper 

 

 

Recap on When to Drop to 2 Naps 

 

Dropping to 2 naps is an inevitable event in your baby’s sleep journey, but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. When you have the knowledge and confidence, and they have the sleep skills, it makes (any) disruption and change to their sleep, manageable. 

 

For literally EVERYTHING you need to know about dropping ALL naps, check out my “Dropping Naps” guide in my 4-24 Month Guide Pack. And don’t forget, we are always here to answer your individual questions and help you figure out exactly what YOUR baby needs. Because, in case you have not heard, every baby is different. Oh, wait. Did I say that already? 

 

You’ve got this! 

 

P.S. Have you signed up for our Free Email Series yet? I send you the exact sleep tips, recommendations, and advice that you need, right when you need it! Click here and enter in your little one’s birthday for perfectly timed sleep help! 

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