Ready to move to 1 nap?

The transition from 2 naps a day to 1 nap a day usually occurs sometime between 12 and 18 months for most babies. It can sometimes be difficult to tell when your baby is ready to make the switch from 2 naps a day to 1.

There are a few signs that can signal that your baby is ready to make that switch and drop a nap.

Is Your Baby Ready?

  • Your baby might begin to sleep longer for their morning nap and shorten their afternoon nap.
  • Some babies who are ready to make the switch will start to play in their crib for the afternoon nap, and either not fall asleep at all, or fall asleep too late in the day and need to be woken up in order to preserve bedtime.
  • Occasionally it is the morning nap that becomes the challenge, while the afternoon nap lengthens.
  • They might suddenly protest one of the naps and fuss or cry for much longer than normal, or they don’t sleep the entire time.
  • These issues may not occur every day, but if you find that they are occurring most of the time (4 to 5 times a week), then it is likely time to make the switch!

 The transition from 2 naps to 1 is one of the hardest transitions they will make, and it can take them a few weeks adjusting to the change. In the beginning, they might be overtired and do some short naps, making it harder to stretch to their normal bedtime. Bumping bedtime earlier might be necessary on occasion while they are adjusting. Although it can be challenging, and tempting to sometimes give them 2 naps again, it is best not to go back and forth between 2 naps and 1.

If your baby still seems tired at their normal naptime, just keep them busy. If your baby gets grumpy you can try distracting them by taking them outside, or by replacing the usual naptime with a snack time.

Making the Switch – Ready to make the Nap Transition 

  • Start by moving your baby’s morning naptime later by half an hour (if they usually napped at 10:00 move it to 10:30), keep it at this time for 3 days and let them sleep as long as they like, do not wake them. Do this for the next 3 days, another 30 minutes. So 10:30, 11:00, 11:30, 12:00, 12:30! For a 7:00 PM bedtime, the ideal nap would be 12:30 pm-3:00 pm, then awake and in bed at 7!
  • Put your baby down for “quiet time” around 2:30 p.m. in order to take the edge off until bedtime. Sometimes giving them, even at 12 months a book or a non-stimulating toy can be helpful in this quiet period. I have some parents who also choose to read to the child as well. Some clients venture out and their child may dose off, especially in the car, and that’s ok. Just wake them up by 4:00 p.m. at the latest so that bedtime is preserved. You don’t want to this be every day, as that will make the adjustment harder. You need to be consistent to get them there over the next few weeks to that single, LONG nap they need.
  • If your baby did not sleep during quiet- time, during the adjustment period you will need to move bedtime up as early as 6:30 p.m. to prevent them from becoming overtired. (Don’t worry, it’s short term.)
  • As discussed above, after 3 days move the morning nap later by another half hour (11:00 a.m.) for 3 days. Follow the same advice for the afternoon quiet time and bedtime.
  • Lunchtime is a great distraction is now bumped up before the nap. It is normal for them to be very tired during lunch, they might even be nodding off the sleep while you try to get them fed! Again, temporary, just do your best during the transition.

Naptime will likely hover between 12:15 p.m. and 12:45 p.m. for several months before gradually being pushed back to 12:45 p.m. Some toddlers stick with the earlier 12:30 p.m. nap as their optimal nap time.

Be patient throughout the process, this is a tough transition and can take a month or more for them to properly adjust. The child should be going to bed somewhere between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. during the transition period.

What to expect when transitioning to 1 nap?

Transitions are always a little tough, but once we are there, a solid nap will be lovely to plan your day around and as with anything, life happens, don’t ever be afraid to bring up bedtime earlier if naps were particularly bad one day.

My name is Courtney Zentz, a Pediatric Sleep Consultant, Lactation Counselor and founder of Tiny Transitions. As an award-winning specialist, I and my team help exhausted parents teach their infants & toddlers to sleep well every night with gentle, customized solutions and both group and private coaching options, so your family can all be at their best. Based in Philadelphia / New Jersey, I work in-home and virtually around the world with families to provide the support that families need to all be at their best. Looking for support today? Join my sleep community here, where I provide weekly live training, content, and support on your parenting journey.

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