The 2 to 1 Nap Transition
Ah, the Promised Land! One glorious nap! I absolutely loved this schedule when my son was a toddler. A single, long midday nap gives you so much more freedom and flexibility — two things that are not easy to come by in parenthood.
Nevertheless, let’s slow down a bit. While the one-nap schedule is amazing for so many reasons, it’s also the most difficult nap transition in my opinion. You’ll want to ensure your little one is totally ready. Good things are worth waiting for!
When is my baby ready for one nap?
Friends, well-meaning family members and even your little one’s child care provider may be quick to rush this transition at around the year mark. But the truth is that your baby isn’t ready for this significant milestone until closer to 15 – 18 months.
Rushing this transition can cause major sleep issues. Saying goodbye to the morning nap is not easy. Why? Your toddler is still learning to tolerate much longer awake times. Suddenly missing out on an entire restorative daytime sleep period can prove to be very difficult!
The 12 month sleep regression
Around the time your little one is turning 11 – 12 months there is a sleep regression. Increased independence and a spike in separation anxiety can make things tricky for a bit. These are all normal and healthy developmental progressions. But they are naturally bound to impact sleep temporarily!
Oftentimes this regression presents as a nap strike, causing many parents to jump to the conclusion they are ready to drop down to a single nap. Instead, try shortening your toddler’s morning nap to help them settle more easily for the afternoon nap.
Signs your toddler is ready for one nap
- Your toddler is between 13 – 21 months and sleeping well at night
- Your toddler is regularly protesting either the morning or afternoon nap
- Naps become short (30 – 45 minutes)
- Afternoon nap and bedtime get pushed too late (past 7:30 pm)
Tips for the 2 to 1 nap transition
- Don’t force this transition: If your toddler isn’t ready, or if independent sleep skills are not in place, dropping to one nap can cause them to become overtired quickly!
- Move nap to noon or start at 10:30 am and ease it later each day: If you think your toddler can handle it, move naptime to 12:00 pm. If you think it will be too much of a stretch, you can start with a 10:30 or 11:00 am nap and then shift it later by 15 minutes every few days. If you chose the latter, you may also need to offer a rest period or catnap around 3:00 pm temporarily.
- Adjust with an earlier bedtime temporarily: the goal is for the one nap to be 2 – 3 hours long. If the nap is less than 90 minutes you will want to offer a much earlier bedtime, such as 6:00 pm.
- Communicate with your child’s caregivers: Do your best to communicate with your child’s caregivers and try to delay dropping down to one nap. If there’s no way around it, don’t stress! On these days, an extra early bedtime will be key.
The 2 to 1 nap transition is, by nature, challenging and can take up to 3 – 4 weeks. Remember to stay consistent and flexible. Set your sights on the goal and stay the course!
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