This transition is one of the easier transitions as it usually fades out by itself. Baby will start napping longer than 45 minutes, their wake times between naps get longer, and there isn’t enough time in the day for baby to take a fourth nap as it becomes too close to bedtime.
And since night sleep is the most restorative sleep in your baby’s 24 hour day, we want to prioritize bedtime.
If you are reading this, and you think - but wait… my child doesn’t nap longer than 30-45 minutes, then you may want to hold to the 4 nap life a bit longer, and tackle your short naps first. You can find information on how to do that HERE.
When does the 4-3 nap transition occur?
On average around 5 Months of age baby will be on a 3 nap schedule. Babies aren’t robots, so you may have a couple days where baby needs the 4 naps due to short naps, but then some days they are rocking a 3 nap life. This is normal, and your 4/5 month old baby may go through a couple weeks where they bounce back and forth between 4 and 3 naps.
Some signs that your baby is ready to make the transition include:
*Keep in mind these are guidelines, so your baby doesn’t need all these signs, but they are typically what you will start to see to help with the transition*
-Taking one nap that is at least 45 minutes in length.
-Baby is able to stay awake for 2 hours between their naps.
-In conjunction with the above mentioned age specific signs, baby may also experience these signs in this blog - 7 Signs Your Child is Ready to Drop a Nap.
At 4-5 months of age baby needs 3-4 hours of naps per day, which will span over 3-4 naps.
Typical 4 Nap Schedule
(~1.5-1.75 hours between wake periods)
7am - Wake up and feed
8:30am - 9am — Nap #1
11:30am - 12pm — Nap #2
2pm - 2:30pm — Nap #3
4:30pm - 5pm — Nap #4
7 - 8 pm — Bedtime
Typical 3 Nap Schedule
(~ 2 Hours of Wake time between sleep periods)
6 - 7am — Wake up and feed
8 - 9am — Nap #1
12:30pm —1pm - Nap #2
3:30pm — 4pm - Nap #3 (max 45 minutes in length)
7pm — Bedtime
How to navigate the 4-3 nap transition
Nap transitions can sometimes be tricky to navigate. Watch baby's wake times, and prevent baby from getting overtired. As your baby moves from 4 naps to 3, day sleep may decrease and that’s expected. For naps to truly be restorative, you want them to be at least an hour in length, and not in motion. Prioritize the first two naps in the day to be in your baby's stationary sleep space. The third nap is a bridge to get your baby to bedtime, and isn't considered a restorative nap as it is normally 30-45 minutes in length. This 3rd nap can be in their stationary sleep space or in motion. Head out for an afternoon walk in the stroller or if you are wanting to run errands - now is the time to do it! To help prevent sleep debt you always want to replace lost sleep with an earlier bedtime. Sleep begets sleep!
Nap transitions can sometimes be stressful and somewhat overwhelming, so the key to a successful nap transition is consistency and patience.
Remember signs that your baby may be ready to drop the 4th nap include:
One nap longer than 45 minutes
Happily staying awake for 2 hours between sleep periods.
Not enough time between 3rd nap and bedtime to fit in a 4th nap
These transitions are a phase every family experiences, and they do not last forever. They take some work to navigate, and you may go back and forth between 3 to 4 naps for a few days or weeks.
By 6 months the 4 to 3 nap transition will be complete, as most babies are happily on 3 naps at this age. If your baby is struggling with 3 nap life, or is still taking short naps - then you want to assess their environment and routine. Does your baby successfully know how to put themselves to sleep at ease, or do they need help from you to get back to sleep?
If your baby is struggling with connecting sleep cycles, then you will want to consider teaching your child how to be successful doing this. You can gently set your baby up for success, changing their sleep habits and achieve sleep for the whole family!
You’ve got this! Sleep is coming!
Wondering about the other nap transitions, and what to do when your child is done napping? I got you covered! To schedule a 15 minute free Discovery Call to find out more about how I can help your family nurture healthy sleep don’t hesitate to reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org