Transitioning from Two Naps to One!

It can sometimes be difficult to tell if your child is ready to make the switch from two naps a day to one.  All too often a parent will switch to one nap a day in hopes that this will improve the situation at night.  If you are a past client of mine, you will already know that the more your child naps throughout the day, the better their sleep will be at night.  Overtiredness can be a baby’s worst enemy so before you make the switch check out the possible signs that your child might be ready.

Signs for making the switch

  • The average age that children switch from two naps to one is 13 to 15 months.  Some babies are ready as early as 12 months, while others hold on to two until they are 18 or 19 months.
  • Your child may begin to sleep longer for their morning nap and progressively shorter for the afternoon nap.
  • Many children who are ready to make the switch will just simply play in their crib for the entire afternoon nap and never sleep, or if they do sleep it will be too late in the day and you need to wake them to preserve their bedtime.
  • Occasionally it is the morning nap that becomes the challenge and the afternoon nap being the long one.
  • One of the naps may become suddenly challenging.  Instead of playing in the crib, they cry and carry on for much longer than normal and don’t sleep for the entire nap.
  • These things won’t happen everyday but if you find that 4 to 5 days of the week, the above scenarios are happening, then it may be time to make the switch.

Making the Switch

Transitioning from two naps to one is not an easy thing to do and it will most likely take a month or more before your child seems comfortable with the change.  Although it can be challenging, once you have made the decision to switch, it is better to just go for it then to waffle between two naps and one.

Your baby may still seem tired at their usual naptime but you should just keep going. Try taking her outside, or giving her a snack when you notice that morning grumpiness set in.

Step one:  Start by moving your baby’s morning nap later by half an hour.  So if she usually napped at 10:00, you move it to 10:30 for 3 days and let her sleep as long as she likes.

Step two:  You should still put your baby down for quiet time around 2:30 to help take the edge off until bedtime.  Leave her in her crib for one hour. She may not sleep, but at least she has had some down time on her own. If she does fall asleep, don’t let her sleep past 3:30 or 4:00 so you can keep your bedtime on track.

Step three:  If your baby went for quiet time and did not sleep, then you will need to move your bedtime up as early as 6:30 to prevent her from becoming overtired.

Step Four:  After 3 days, move the naptime to 11:00 for another 3 days.  Follow the same advice for the afternoon quiet time and bedtime.

Step Five:  Move naptime to 11:30 for another three days.  There may not be any time for afternoon quiet time by this point, and you will most likely find your toddler very hard to deal with around supper time.  Remember, it’s ok to put her to bed early.  That is a much better solution than living with a raging toddler!

Step six:  Move naptime to 12:00.  This might mean that you have to move lunch time up to 11:30 for a while.  Don’t be surprised if for a few weeks, you little one starts nodding off in the highchair.

You will most likely find that naptime hovers between 12:00 and 12:30 for several months. 1:00 naptimes don’t usually become the norm until your little one is past the age of two.  1:00 can be too late for most children, as they have missed they optimal naptime and are now catching their second wind.

Be patient… Like I said, this is not an easy transition and it may take a month or more before you notice that your child is handling the switch much better.  I also suggest that throughout the transition your child should be going to bed somewhere between 6:00 and 7:30.

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