As infants grow, their sleep starts to settle into something many parents are often craving: a routine or schedule! Life starts to feel a bit more planned and a bit less unpredictable when you start seeing windows of time emerge: naptime and wake time. Most often, your baby will start to experience more consistent sleep patterns around 6-9 months. This is when the two a day nap transition occurs.
Starting the Day
Most babies wake to start their day around 6 or 7am and still look for a bottle or to nurse first thing in the morning. Stimulation is great for your baby during this first wake window. Open up the curtains, let her see the sunshine, and start the day! During this first wake window, your growing baby may have the stamina for some oatmeal or fruit puree, before napping. Most often this wake window is 2 hours long, but some babies may make it until 3 hours.
Morning Nap Transition
As your baby gets older, it is important to still be mindful of the clock, but also start watching her more closely for cues that she is tired. Getting her in the crib when she is most ready to sleep and before she is overtired makes naptime a much more pleasant experience for everyone. Ideally, the morning nap will start around 9am and last about 1.5 to 2 hours. If your baby wakes after 45-60 minutes and you think she doesn’t seem fully rested, it could just be the new nap transition. You can always attempt to extend her nap by letting her fuss in 10-15 minute intervals or when you have been attempting the extension for 30 minutes and she is still awake.
Encourage Routine for the Afternoon Nap
Once baby is up from the morning nap, she will most likely be ready for another 2-3 hour wake window. While she is awake, try to keep her stimulated as you did during the morning wake window. Offer playtime, music, outdoor play, a bottle or nursing session and possibly some solids for lunch. Try to avoid relaxing activities such as car rides or stroller walks during this wake window as it might result in catnapping before she is really ready for her afternoon nap. Ideally, the afternoon nap will start between 12pm-2pm depending on when your baby woke from the first nap. Watch the clock but also watch her sleep cues to initiate naptime. As before, the goal is for her to nap 1.5 to 2 hours, and if she naps less, you can always attempt to extend the nap with the earlier mentioned method.
Nap Transition: Dropping The Late Afternoon Nap
After your baby wakes from her afternoon nap is a perfect time for outings. By nine months of age, your baby most likely won’t need a third nap anymore and if she does catnap while you are out running errands, you can adjust bedtime a bit later as needed. If your baby has dropped her third nap, this last wake window will be her longest. It may be necessary to push her bedtime 20-30 minutes earlier than it was when she was napping 3 times a day. Most babies will settle into this two nap a day routine with a bedtime between 6-8pm by nine months of age. Things will remain consistent until your baby reaches 14-18 months of age, when she will start to show cues for transitioning to one nap a day. We’ll discuss the big 2 to 1 nap transition in next month’s sleep blog.
If you would like support creating healthy sleep routines for your baby, please reach out to Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny for a sleep consultation and unique sleep plan to best fit your family’s needs!
About The Author
Courtney Poirier is a veteran Newborn Care Expert with Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny. She has many years of experience with sleep conditioning and coaching in daycare & home settings. Prior to working with babies, she was an elementary school teacher. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and their two sons. One is seven years old and the other is nine years old.