I decided that for this month’s post I would write what my 16-month-old son just went through this past month – transitioning from two naps to one. Going through nap transitions are very hard! It’s the period that I like to call “damn if you do, damn if you don’t.” One nap is often times too little, but two naps are too much. So I felt like it might be helpful for you, if I shared a few tips on knowing when your child is ready for the transition and how to do it.
Your child will need to nap up until about the age of 4. However, the amount of day sleep as well how long she can be awake during the day will change as she gets older. A newborn, for instance, can be awake only for about 1-1.5 hours at a time and should sleep a total of about 8 hours during the day. As your child gets older and their sleep requirements change, so do their naps.
How do I know if my child is ready for the transition?
1. She’s between the ages of 15-18 months.
2. Consistently getting around 11 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night.
3. Is resisting her morning or afternoon nap.
4. Her morning nap is now too short, or too long.
Once you begin seeing those signs you can begin transitioning her to one nap. The transition should be done over the course of a few days, if not weeks. The whole process might take up to 10 days before things settle and she’s on a new schedule.
How do you transition?
1. Gradually push her morning nap by 15 minutes over the course of a few days to get to as close to a noon nap as possible. You may not be able to, and should not, do this in one day. Move it to 11:00 a.m. for a few days, then to 11:15 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and so on… Don’t let the nap get stuck in late morning. Some kids can adapt more quickly to a noon nap time and others need to go slower. Watch your child, as you know her best.
2. Your ultimate goal is for the nap to start between 12:30 and 1:00 and to last at least 2¼ to 2½ hours. As your child gets older she will push that nap later to start at 1:00 p.m. and will decrease to 1 hour at the age of 3.
3. Your child may not be able to handle one nap every day. You may want to do a day or two of one nap, and then a day or two of two naps to keep your child from getting too overtired.
4. On the days she takes only one nap that still isn’t long enough, make sure to push bedtime a little earlier. You want to make sure you avoid an overtired child at bedtime, which can start causing early rising.
5. When your child does transition to one nap, it may be only be the length of one of her naps from before. For example, if your child was taking two naps of 1.5 hours each, when she goes to one nap, she will probably initially take one 1.5 hours nap. It will take her brain some time to figure out that she is only going to get in one opportunity to sleep for the day, and she has to consolidate all her daytime sleep into that one nap.
6. If every day you are doing one nap and it still feels like a struggle and it’s not getting better, its okay to go back to two naps until you feel like she is ready to try again.
Hang in there! It can take some time… but this too shall pass.