Many people say that the first year is the hardest, but does it ever get ‘easier’?!
Spoiler alert. NOPE! ha.
Just when you think you’ve got it all down pat, your kiddo is going to throw another transition in and send you through a loop. Your children will continue to change in all kinds of ways because they are simply not done growing. It is hard but.. at least it is interesting?! ha.
Getting down to 1 nap tends to be a bit of a difficult transition. For most children, this could happen anytime between 12 and 18 months, and it may take upwards of a month to get this new routine into place. The average age most children transition is 15 months from my experience.
As with all changes, your child must be ready for this one too. You may notice a period where you are stuck in limbo as 2 naps feels like too much but 1 is not quite enough. You will have to be patient and flexible as your well-loved super routine nap schedule, starts to look like the hot mess express!
What are some signs your child may be ready?
They are getting 10.5 to 12 hours of consolidated sleep each night
Your child is playing through their nap time or is taking a very long time to fall asleep
Their morning nap is getting longer, and they are resistant to a second nap
They are taking a shorter morning nap and seem very content until a later afternoon nap.
Any or all of these things should be happening majority of the time (i.e. more than 4 days in a week) before you try to make the switch. One-offs happen, so don’t jump too quickly into this transition. Moving too quickly to one nap can add more challenges to your overnight sleep. Super long awake windows during the day.. an unbalanced day essentially.. tends to lead to long wide awake periods overnight as well, and it is something to move into with cautious optimism.
For those with their little ones in daycare, talk with your provider about their nap schedule; make sure you work with them to determine a routine that works for YOUR child, not just one of convenience.
If your child is ready to transition down to 1 nap, here are some steps to follow:
You can begin by capping your child’s morning nap to protect two naps as long as possible. Some of my clients will have their baby nap for 1 hour, 45 mins, or even just 30 mins in the morning to ensure their child still takes a decent nap in the afternoon. This can help prolong the transition until your child is a little older; which usually makes this transition a bit easier to make.
If it is clear the nap needs to go, even after some careful capping experimentations..
For the first 2 days, start with a morning nap around 11 a.m. If this nap is short, try to encourage them back to sleep or offer a second short nap later in the afternoon (an emergency plan-B nap in the carseat for example).
On days 3 and 4, push the morning nap a little later, maybe 11:15-ish.
On days 5 and 6, push the morning nap a little later again, maybe 11:30-ish.
Continue gradually moving the nap later each day until you reach an early afternoon time between 12 – 12:30 p.m.
Most children will continue to take 1 nap per day until they are well into their preschool years. This nap tends to stay around 12:30 – 2:30/3:00 pm for quite a long time, with 5 – 6 hour awake windows on either side of this nap each day.
Many kiddos reject their nap around age 2 for a little while.. this is totally normal, and a few skipped naps does not necessarily mean your child is done napping! Continue to offer quiet time, rest time, and honour your child’s need for mid-day sleep most days of the week, and you are likely to see the nap return sooner than later.
I hope this helps! And as always, if you do need more focused or 1:1 support as you make your way through this transition, I would be happy to help you. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.