The transition from two naps to one nap is a milestone for all children (and their moms). Moving from two naps to one nap is a sign that your baby is leaving babyhood behind and becoming a toddler. If your baby is between nine months and 12 months old, they typically need three hours of daytime sleep (or naps) and three hours of awake time. This ensures that they are well-rested throughout the day and sleep well at night.
If your child is on a 7:00 am wake-up and 7:00 pm bedtime schedules, naps will be around 10:00 am and 2:30 pm, with each nap lasting 90 minutes long. Remember, this is based on a typical nap schedule, but it can vary depending on the child. If your child is getting two good naps totaling about three hours of sleep in the day, leave your schedule as is for a few more months. Don’t rush into dropping one nap and enjoy the additional peace and quiet.
Typically, babies drop a nap between 12 to 15 months old. There are a few signs to be on the lookout for to know if your baby is ready to transition to just one nap. A sign that your baby is ready is that they easily go down for a morning nap at least 90% of the time. This morning nap is about 2 hours long on average. When this morning nap is going smoothly, and your baby is within the typical age for transitioning to one nap, you can begin dropping the afternoon nap.
So, how can you make the jump from two naps to one? Here are some tips.
When to Make the Nap Transition
If you are a stay-at-home mom, you’ll be able to watch your baby closely. If the morning nap is happening quickly and lasts at least 90 minutes, but the afternoon nap is a struggle, it may be time to make the nap transition.
For example, if your baby won’t settle anymore for an afternoon nap and plays or cries throughout this time, that’s a clear sign that it’s time to drop the afternoon nap. Transitioning to one nap will lessen the stress of forcing your baby to take that second nap.
How to Transition to One Nap
You’ll have to work on transitioning to one nap, just like any other aspect of sleep training. It won’t happen instantly, and forcing a quick switch will take a toll on your baby’s body and their mood.
Let’s take a look at a sample nap schedule. For a one nap schedule, 12:30 pm is an ideal naptime. If you’re moving the morning nap, typically from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm, you’ll need to start moving their schedule via 30-minute intervals. For the first three days, move the nap to 10:30 am. After this, move it to 11:00 am. After another three days, move the nap by another thirty minutes and start the nap at 11:30 am. Continue rolling it until you reach 12:30 pm.
Your baby’s sleep cycle will adjust before settling into a new nap schedule that will most likely stay for years to come. It can take up to two weeks for the program to stick. Remember that you need to be patient.
How to Handle Early Wakeups During Nap Transition
If your baby is waking up too early due to the nap transition, they might be overtired. You might need to keep them busy in the mornings, using stimulating morning play, to keep them up until 12:30 pm. You should also try to get them to bed earlier that night because being overtired is a common cause for early morning wakings.
Remember that the most important thing in sleep training is to make a plan and stick to it. If a hiccup happens, like your baby’s one nap is disrupted by a doorbell, don’t be afraid to adjust. Maybe you’ll have to move bedtime up an hour for that day or add an additional quick afternoon nap. The most important thing is to stick to your nap transition plan for two weeks, observe your baby, and adjust accordingly.