A question that I see each week in my sleep Facebook group is something that’s also likely on your mind, when can my baby have one nap a day schedule? So today, I am going to dive into how to discuss a nap transition and just how to make the jump if your baby is ready for 1 nap a day.
The typical range I see babies ready to make the jump to a 1 nap a day schedule is between 12 & 15 months, and the reason for the variation in months depends on two key things, their body readiness and their childcare situation.
When Do Babies Drop 2 Naps?
Let’s start with some basics. From 9 months through 12 months, a child needs 3 hours in daytime sleep and 3 hours of awake times to sleep well and take the longer nap many parents desire. Typically, those nap times, when you are on a 7:00 am waking and a 7:00 pm bedtime schedule would be 10:00 am and 2:30 pm, for about 90 minutes each. The timing can jump around if the timing adjusts, but if you are still getting two decent naps totaling about 3 hours in the day, you are golden, leave it alone for a few more months. If you are not sure, check out this chart, which shows a baby’s sleep needs.
However, I would say the average is usually on the 13th month and I would provide three signs to always be on the lookout for with making the nap transition and setting your baby up to rest well in the day, for about 2.5 hours now and well overnight, for between 11 & 12 hours, on average.
The first sign is that 90% of the time, your infant will take the nap without any issue, especially the morning nap. That’s OK, it’s quite common for that nap to be the 2 hour one. (and if it is, I would consider waking them at 2 hours if they would have slept longer.) The reason, you need to build up enough sleep pressure to take the second nap, and if you sleep too long in the morning, you won’t and the baby will fight the second nap.
How Do I Make the Nap Transition if my Baby is in Daycare?
In daycare, they are going to design the nap schedule. If your baby moves to the infant or young toddler room from the newborn room, don’t fret, they are pros at this transition and will help you make the nap transition over the course of a single week at daycare to 1 nap a day. They did it for both of my kids at 13 months, and while that week is an adjustment, by the following Monday, they were rockstar single nappers and I was out of nap jail on the weekend!
How Do I Make the Nap Transition if my Baby is Home?
In this example, let’s assume they are home and nap 1 is happening for about 90 minutes in the morning with success but nap 2 is a mess. If your little one won’t settle for a nap, or will just play throughout or alternate between crying and playing without any cause, these are the signs you will begin to experience when the transition should take place.
You will discover that most of the time, the afternoon nap will always be an issue. They may have a good day, then a bad day, then 2 good days, then 3 bad days and if that’s the case (and they are settling independently for naps) then I would make the jump because it can become very stressful for you as a new momma.
Implementing the One Nap a Day Schedule
You can’t just instantly switch from a 10 am naptime to the 12:30 pm naptime. This would be quite intense on their body structure and would make them too exhausted during the nap which would cause issues. I’d advise that you gradually switch to the afternoon naptime. I recommend 30-minute interval adjustments.
If you are starting from 10 am, you can move to 10:30 am for about three days. Subsequently, move to 11:00 am for another three days. Then 11:30 and the likes until you get to around 12:30.I find that 12:30 is the ideal time for one-day nap time. They can simply eat lunch and proceed for a nap. Note that it is going to take a week or two for their body to adjust, their cycles to consolidate and their rhythm to resetting – be patient, the nap will lengthen and you will be able to enjoy consistency in the schedule and day now for years to come.
I find it best to make the switch and stick to it, letting them sleep for as long a possible, but know there can be a hiccup, like a doorbell ringing 30 minutes into a single nap. If that should happen, you just want to adjust bedtime back up to an hour, to avoid overtired, or, I suggest a supported nap happening about 3:30 pm, just to take the edge off during the move, for about 30-45 minutes.
I like to stick to just one nap once you are in transition, but frankly, if the day’s a mess, having a child NOT be overtired severely at bedtime will fare them much better for a calmer bedtime with less crying out and less overnight waking’s. You have to change for things to change, but like anything, it takes balance. Stick with it for two weeks, and if you are struggling, connect with a sleep consultant and get help. You don’t want to disrupt your baby sleeping through the night and impact their day and overnight sleep in the process.
What if My Baby Wakes Early During the Transition?
If your little one is making the shift and starts to wake early, it’s likely they are overtired, so my advice is either speed up forcing them to get to 12:30 pm, using stimulating morning play or err on an even earlier bedtime, to take the edge off them being overtired. Overtired is almost always the cause of early morning waking initially before habits then form at 5:00 am out of desperation and a lack of a plan with what’s going on. I would prefer they get a little overtired going into a nap with a longer window vs. the overtired happening at bedtime. This Pinterest board should help amuse them in the morning if you need it. Early wakings can be caused by other things too, so check out this blog if you are struggling with early morning wakings.
What should a Sample Schedule Look Like for my Baby?
You are in luck – try our Sample Schedule Generator, to build your baby’s ideal day, avoid a sleep regression, and understand what their ideal nap and sleep schedule should be. Whether they are 15 months or 5 months, set them up for success!
Courtney Zentz is the nation’s leading Baby Sleep Expert and Founder of Tiny Transitions. Her background as a Pediatric Sleep Specialist, Lactation Counselor, Postpartum Doula, and Sleep Coach to her team of Sleep Consultants around the world provides parents with a solution to their sleep struggles, that is backed by science and balanced with your love and support. If you are struggling with sleep in your home remember, we offer Free Sleep Before & After calls, so you can learn what a Sleep Coach does and how working with us can help you, if that’s the right choice for your family.
The mission at Tiny Transitions is to teach healthy sleep hygiene and parenting education to parents and their babies, toddlers, and young adults who struggle to sleep well. Courtney resides just outside Philadelphia, with her husband Adam and two children, Max and Sovella. She has always felt passionate about making sleep & healthy living a priority in her family’s life and Tiny Transitions looks forward to working with you.
Her team of Certified Sleep Consultants, the Slumber Squad, offers in-home and virtual consultations, depending on the location. Today, we cover Dallas, TX, Austin, TX, Nashville, TN, Paducah, KY, Long Island, NY, New Jersey, Philadelphia, PA, Tampa, FL, Des Moines, IA, Huntsville, AL, St. Louis, MO, but can travel in the home to support your sleep needs for a fee, based on the work and duration of the stay.