One of the most common questions I get from parents is when to expect that their child will be ready to transition to one nap, instead of two. Let’s talk about the signs that your child might be ready for just one nap each day, and how to make the transition as smooth as possible!
Every child is different, but most children are ready to drop from two-naps-to-one at an average age of 17 months. Some transition as early as 16 months, and some as late as 18 or even 20 months.
Common signs that your child is ready to drop to one nap include:
· When you put him down for a nap, he plays or fusses for at least 30 minutes before falling asleep. Then, he takes only a short nap.
· He can go for car rides early in the day without falling asleep.
· He can miss a nap and remain content and playful until his next nap, or until bedtime.
· He naps well for one of his naps, but totally resists the other nap.
It’s important not to push your child into dropping a nap too early. I suggest waiting until signs of being “ready” have been visible for at least 2-3 weeks (and your child is at an appropriate age, as mentioned above), before making the switch. When you are ready to help your little one make the transition, I suggest doing so gradually over the course of a week or two. Here’s how!
Days 1 to 3
Start by moving your child’s first nap of the day 30 minutes later than it normally occurs. For example, if your child normally has his nap at around 9:30 a.m., move the nap to 10 a.m. for the first three days of the nap transition.
Put your little one down for his nap at 10 a.m. Have him rest/sleep again from 3:00pm – 4:00pm. If he sleeps during the afternoon rest, bedtime will be 7:00pm. If he does not sleep during the afternoon rest, bedtime will be 6:00pm. One of the biggest reasons babies and toddlers wake up during the night and have very early morning wakes is being overtired at bedtime, which keeps them from getting in (and STAYING in!) a nice, deep, restful sleep. So, during the nap transition, an early bedtime will be important if there is no afternoon rest!
Days 4 to 6
Your child should be in his crib at 10:30am for his nap. If he wakes before noon, have him rest/sleep again from 3:00pm – 4:00pm. If he sleeps during the afternoon rest, bedtime will be 7:00pm. If he does not sleep during the afternoon rest, bedtime will be 6:00pm.
Days 7 to 9
Your child should be in his crib at 11:00am for his nap. If he wakes before noon, have him rest/sleep again from 3:00pm – 4:00pm. If he sleeps during the afternoon rest, bedtime will be 7:00pm. If he does not sleep during the afternoon rest, bedtime will be 6:00pm.
Days 10 to 12
Your child should be in his crib at 11:30am for his nap. Bedtime of 6:00pm (if short nap)’ otherwise 6:30 p.m.
Days 13 and onward
Put your child in his crib for his nap at 12:00 pm. If the nap is short, bedtime will be 6:30pm; if it is longer, bedtime will be 7pm.
The most important thing to remember in any transition in your child’s sleep (whether it’s going from two naps to one, one nap to none, transitioning to a big kid bed, or getting used to daycare naps) is that it can often take around a month or more for a new schedule or routine to become the norm for your little one – however, with some time and lots of consistency, your child will settle into his new norm and sleep will be back on track!
Erin Junker is a Professional Infant & Toddler Sleep Consultant, and owner of The Happy Sleep Company (thehappysleepcompany.ca). She works closely with tired parents to help them help their little ones get the healthy, restful sleep they need. Follow her at www.facebook.com/thehappysleepcompany www.instagram.com/thehappysleepcompany and on Twitter @TheHappySleepCo, and let’s get your family the healthy, happy sleep you deserve!