Updated: Aug 3
Your baby will likely be on a 2 nap schedule by 9 months of age, but may have transitioned to this schedule earlier. If you are finding that your baby is consistently protesting their third cat nap later in the day, or they’re having the cat nap but it’s pushing bedtime past 8p, that’s a good sign that it’s time to move to a two nap schedule. By now your baby can tolerate slightly longer periods of wakefulness which allows us to space the naps further apart during the day. Since we are dropping the third nap, you may need to have an earlier bedtime temporarily. That could be as early as 5:30p, which is OK! Generally, an early bedtime won’t result in an early morning wake up. It just allows your baby to catch up on any sleep they didn’t get during the day and get deeply restorative sleep in the first half of the night.
As always, you’ll see below that all of the times to try and start naps & bedtime are ranges. By 9-14 months, your baby will likely be able to tolerate being awake anywhere between 2 to 4 hours. It’s always important that you pay attention to your child’s sleepy cues to get them down for sleep when they are starting to show signs of being tired. That would be signs like zoning out, showing less interest in activities, blank stares and glazed eyes. We want to avoid pushing them to the point of being overtired (hard cries, arched back/pushing away, tense body) as it’s harder for them to get to sleep and then fall back asleep when they wake between sleep cycles.
Here’s the general guide for a 2 nap/day schedule
Nap 1: between 8:30-9a
Nap 2: between 12:30-1:30p
Bedtime: between 6-7p (3.5 - 4 hours after 2nd nap)
Keep in mind
We want to start the day no later than 7a. This gives your baby enough time to have wakeful periods in between naps. If your baby wakes before 6a, try your best to leave them in the crib. While they may be “awake”, it’s still restful for them to be in their crib in a dark environment without the stimulation of the outside world.
You want to try and gradually increase the periods of wakefulness through the day. The shortest wakeful period would be before nap 1 and the longest would be before bedtime. This helps to build sleep pressure over the day for bedtime.
We don’t want the first nap going much past 11a as that can push the timing of the second nap later than we’d like.
Keep in mind that this is a general guide of a schedule. If your daily schedule is different and your baby is getting enough restorative sleep, then that’s great and there’s no reason to change what is working. If you are struggling with your baby’s schedule and in a constant cycle of overtiredness, let’s connect. I would be happy to help work through some of these issues to help you and your baby get the rest needed.