Your sweet baby is soon headed for toddlerhood and with that comes a big nap transition! The 2 to 1 nap transition, that is! In my opinion, this is the biggest and sometimes toughest nap transition because it is a huge jump in awake windows. But we are here to help make this transition as smooth as possible for you and your family.
What age does a child usually drop to 1 nap a day? Generally, between 12-16 months with the average age being 13-14 months.
Don’t panic if your baby goes to daycare and nap schedules are out of your control. You DO have control over bedtime and moving it earlier or later, so keep reading!
So, how do you know when your baby is ready for only 1 nap? Here are some classic signs:
- It is taking longer to fall asleep for nap time and bedtime
- They start refusing the second nap of the day
- Naps start to become shorter and shorter
- Bedtime is moving significantly later to fit in both naps and appropriate wake windows
- New, early morning wake ups
When you are ready to implement one nap a day, you have 2 options for how to go about it:
- Cold turkey: Move their nap to 12pm (or about 5-6 hours after waking in the morning). Bedtime should be 4-5 hours after nap ends
- Gradually shift nap later: Delay their morning nap by 30 minutes every 3 days until you get to your desired nap time (approximately 5-6 hours after waking in the morning). Your baby may still need a 30 minute cat nap in the afternoon and this is fine to take place in the crib, stroller or car.
Whichever method you choose, your baby will likely still seem tired at their normal nap time. This is to be expected. But once you’ve made the decision, stick to it. When your child seems sleepy, switch activities. Move to another room or take the outside. You can also offer a snack with some natural sugars. Avoid car or stroller rides when sleepy during this adjustment period.
Now that your little one is on one nap a day, their bedtime may change. Typically, bedtime is moved earlier. If your child slept for more than 90 minutes, aim for bedtime to be 4-5 hours after the nap ended. If your baby slept for less than 90 minutes (not ideal but common during this transition), bedtime can be as early as 6/6:30pm. Don’t be scared of an early bedtime as this will prevent overtiredness.
Ideally, this one nap is 2-3 hours in length. I generally recommend waking your child if they have been sleeping longer than 3 hours so that bedtime doesn’t get pushed too late and so that they don’t have too much daytime sleep which can negatively impact their night sleep.
As I mentioned earlier, this is a huge transition and can take 4-6 weeks for full adjustment. Have lots of patience! Remember, soon you will have the new freedom of only one nap to plan your day around and hopefully a nice long mid-day break for you!
As always, if you are struggling with your child’s sleep, we would love to help. You can schedule your free 15 minute discovery call here: http://www.beewisesleepconsulting.com/schedule