When should my baby switch from three naps to two? Sleep

iStock.com/PeopleImages

baby sleeping
iStock.com/PeopleImages

Older babies tend to nap around three times a day: once in the morning, once in the early afternoon, and then again in the later afternoon. Dropping one of those naps can prove challenging. Find out what experts and other moms have to say about when -- and how -- to do that.

By 9 Months

"A general guideline is that most babies decrease from three naps to two by 9 months of age. Keep in mind that all babies are different, and if your baby is still requiring three naps at this age, it is likely okay as long as your baby appears well rested and is active when he or she is awake. Talk to your pediatrician if you have questions about your child's specific nap and overnight sleep schedule." -- Madhavi Kapoor, MD, pediatrician at Hassenfeld Children's Hospital at NYU Langone, New...

"A general guideline is that most babies decrease from three naps to two by 9 months of age. Keep in mind that all babies are different, and if your baby is still requiring three naps at this age, it is likely okay as long as your baby appears well rested and is active when he or she is awake. Talk to your pediatrician if you have questions about your child's specific nap and overnight sleep schedule." -- Madhavi Kapoor, MD, pediatrician at Hassenfeld Children's Hospital at NYU Langone, New York, New York

Two Morning Naps Merge into One

"Babies are usually about 9 months old when they drop to two naps. Two naps merge into one early-morning nap about 90 minutes after awakening, then they take an afternoon nap." -- Hannah Chow, MD, FAAP, pediatrician and codirector of the Loyola Center for Health at North Riverside, Illinois

Watch for Their Cues

"Babies tend to naturally go from three to two. If my son sleeps less than 45 minutes for either nap, I know he'll need a third later in the afternoon. If babies don't go down easily -- like if it takes them more than 20 minutes to go down for nap -- it means they might be ready for two naps. I just stretched the time between naps -- usually two to two-and-a-half hours of awake time!"

You'll Know When It's Time

"The transition from three naps to two happens gradually. They start sleeping longer during their other two naps and eventually that third one just drops off. You'll know it's the right time when they either start sleeping too late to fit in a third nap or they just refuse to fall asleep for another nap, period."

When They Start Fighting It

"Just stop putting the baby down for their last nap when they start fighting it. They'll let you know when they don't need it. My kids stopped taking a third nap pretty early on! Also, you may want to put them down for bed a little earlier on once that happens!"

Usually Between 7 to 10 Months

"In my experience, it usually happens around 7 to 10 months, but every child is different, so there's not a particular month that you have to change. Basically, when you're putting them down for their naps, and they're not falling asleep within 30 minutes, they might be ready to kick that nap!"

Move Bedtime Earlier

"For dropping the third nap, you might just stop doing the short late-afternoon nap and then put them to bed earlier."

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.