The 2-3-4 rule

Nap schedules are not for everyone, some parents and babies thrive on a set nap time, finding the predictability really useful for structure to the day. However, some parents and babies like a little more flexibility; guidance and structure, but flexibility within that, and the 2-3-4 rule is a great tool for that. 

So how does this work? The idea behind this is that for babies on a two nap schedule (between about 7 and 18 months) the first nap will be 2 hours from their morning wake time, the second will be 3 hours after their morning nap and bedtime will be four hours after the afternoon nap. For example, morning wake may be 7am, so the first nap will be 9am. If bub then wakes about 10am, the next nap will be about 1pm. Again, with a wake at about 2.30pm, bedtime will be about 6.30pm.

This sounds easy! It allows for a bit more flexibility in the day if that is what you want. However, there are some considerations. This doesn’t work if bub is catnapping. Naps need to be a good length, about 1-2 hours (about 2.5-3 hours a day) long in order for this to work, otherwise bedtime will be way too early. So if your little one is catnapping, work on settling and resettling before giving this a go. 

Secondly, you need to keep a consistent wake time, by doing this you will ensure that your little one’s circadian rhythm is regular and therefore not have unpredictable wake times. 

Thirdly, you may find that your little one doesn’t need a nap at the 2 hour mark, and therefore won’t settle for it. If this is the case, use the 2-3-4 rule as a guide, what we are looking for is increasing awake times throughout the day in order to build sleep pressure for nighttime sleep. A schedule that suits you may look like 2.5 – 3.5 – 4 instead! Trial and error comes into play here, but this can be a great alternative to a structured schedule for you and your little one. 

If the information in this post is resonating with you, then I can likely help you further! Drop me an email and get in touch. 

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