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What is the 2-3-4 nap routine?

You may have heard of the 2-3-4 nap schedule but not really understood how it works and at what age it's best suited, so let's expand on this concept.

The routine is based around focussing on awake windows rather than nap timings, and this can work really well for some families who prefer less of a routine or those who feel trapped by set nap timings.

An awake window is a period of time between when your baby wakes and when they are asleep again. It includes feeding, changing, playing and winding down for the next sleep period.

The 2-3-4 suggests offering the morning nap 2 hours after waking for the day, the afternoon sleep 3 hours after waking from the morning nap and for bedtime to fall 4 hours after waking from the afternoon nap. The schedule for an 8 month old baby might look like this;

7am wake for the day

9am morning nap

9:45am awake from nap

12:45pm afternoon nap

2:45pm awake from nap

6:45pm bedtime

When is a 2-3-4 schedule appropriate?

This routine works well for little one's on 2 day sleeps, particularly those who have recently dropped to 2 naps (usually between 6-8 months). It can work as a great starting point before tailoring the awake windows to suit individuals baby's needs. For some this may still mean a short/long nap routine as a above, and for other families a medium/medium routine might work better (e.g. splitting the total day sleep somewhat evenly over two naps).

How does it work?

Babies awake windows start to lengthen across the day once they are established on 2 naps. This helps build sleep pressure to support readiness for sleep at bedtime and help link sleep cycles overnight. Sleep pressure refers to the build-up of the body's need for sleep over time, which gradually increases the longer a baby has been awake.

What are the benefits?

Following a 2-3-4 schedule give families some flexibility if they have found nap routines too restrictive. It still gives some predictability (as you can calculate the next nap timing from their awake window) but also helps with freedom and flexibility. It also ensures that your little one is still getting their total sleep needs, which impacts their night sleep too, by managing their wake to sleep balance across the day. Often a 2-3-4 schedule can work well on daycare days or for families who are travelling or otherwise having an off-routine day.

There's always flexibility with day sleeps to suit each individual family, so that you can get out and about and support great sleeps whilst still doing the things you love.

If you need some sleep support and you are ready to make a change I'm here for you! Book a discovery call and let's chat about your little one's sleep and how I can help your family get the rest you all need to thrive.

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