4 to 3 Nap Transition

Let’s talk about the first real nap transition you will experience with your baby: the four to three nap transition. Typically, this transition takes place right around 5 months of age.


You may notice some consistency in sleep around 16 weeks of age when your little dreamer begins to wake more consistently at the same time each day and that first nap usually starts at the same time. While those two parts may begin to be more consistent, the rest of the day still looks pretty unpredictable as far as exactly when each nap will happen and how long they will each last. Your wake windows should be fairly consistent between each sleep time from day to day. At 16 weeks of age your baby may be able to handle 1.5 hours of being awake with maybe one longer (1.75) and one shorter (1.25) wake time as well. The first two naps are usually about 1-1.5 hours and the last two could be 30-60 minutes. Here is sample schedule:



7am wake up and first feed

8:15-9:15am First nap

10am second feed

10:45-12:15pm second nap

12:45pm third feed

1:45-2:30pm third nap

3:30pm fourth feed

4-4:30pm fourth nap

6:00pm fifth feed

6:15pm bedtime


Remember this is a sample! Exact nap lengths will vary. Also remember that I am listing asleep times, you will want to have your baby in bed before these nap times so your baby has time to fall asleep. And finally, at this age I try to feed every three hours. You can see in this particular schedule some of the feeds are a little less than 3 hours apart, again depending on nap lengths you may have some feeds that are a little bit more than 3 hours apart. It’s also okay to go up to 4 hours between feeds if that works or is needed.


As your baby gets closer to 5 months and closer to transitioning to 3 naps you will first lengthen out some of your wake times. At 16 weeks wake times will be around 1.25/1.5/1.5/1.5/1.75. As you get closer to that transition you will want to extend wake times to be around 1.5/1.5/1.5/1.75/2.


You will know your baby is ready to transition to three naps when your baby begins to refuse their fourth nap of the day. If you see this pattern for a few days, and know it is not your baby being over-tired, go ahead and make the change! When you first transition to three naps you will slightly extend out wake times. But once your baby adjusts to those times you will likely need to lengthen out just a little bit again. When you first make the adjustment aim for wake times around: 1.5/1.75/2/2. If you are adjusting later than 5 months you may need to jump straight to longer wake times, close to this: 1.5-1.75/2/1.75-2/2.25. Here is a sample schedule:



7am wakeup and first feed

8:30-9:30am first nap

10am second feed

11:30-1:30am second nap

1:30pm second feed

3:30-4:00pm third nap

4pm: third feed

6pm: fourth feed

6:15pm: bedtime


Do you notice how the second nap is longer? Anywhere from 1.5-2 hours is great here! This nap should be longer, a more restorative nap. Sometimes to help the afternoon nap lengthen out you may need to cap the morning nap at 60 min. Some babies will also do 1.5 hours of sleep for the first and second nap. This is also when I begin to feed right after the third nap and right before bed now that the wake time is long enough to support two feedings.


Remember, if you are struggling to make this transition there is nothing more helpful than talking to someone about exactly what your baby is doing and getting some specific recommendations. You can check out my consult details here!

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Picture of Marietta Paxson

Marietta M. Paxson M.S., LMFT

marietta@littledreamers.us

(435) 770-8312

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