Have you noticed that all the fun baby/toddler activities and classes seem to run in the morning?
Storytime at the library- 9:30 am
Tumbling Class- 10:00 am
Swimming Lessons- 9:00 am
It was always so frustrating to me as a mom who just wanted to get out of the house…but also as a mom of babies who NEEDED their naps. It felt like we couldn’t do anything! If I decided to be brave and just delay/skip nap that day…it always resulted in an overtired and crabby baby. Not worth it. At all.
There is something that happens though after your baby’s first birthday that suddenly opens up your world…the 2 to 1 nap transition! Suddenly all those morning activities that just didn’t work out are now fair game. HOORAY! This is a big transition but is generally welcome because it gives the caregiver either a nice, long break during the day OR time to play with other kiddos, get work done, etc.
When is the right to make the transition?
Babies are generally ready to make the transition anywhere between 12-18 months, though the most common age is around 14-15 months.
There are some other signs you want to look out for that it may be time to drop a nap.
- It takes 25+ minutes for your baby to fall asleep for either nap.
- Your baby isn’t falling asleep at all for one of the naps.
- One of the naps is long (generally the first) but the other nap is short.
- It is taking 25+ minutes to fall asleep at bedtime.
- Mornings are starting before 6:00 am.
- You’re experiencing these disruptions for at least 4 days per week for a minimum of 2-3 weeks. (This is important! You don’t want to transition at the first skipped nap. Babies are not robots and sometimes just have off days).
If you are checking the above boxes, then congrats! It’s time to transition to one nap. Another reason it’s time to transition to just 1 nap is that daycare says so. Many babies move up to the toddler room at 12 months and have to transition to 1 nap no matter what, ready or not. If your baby is in daycare more than 3 days a week, it’s best to keep this schedule on home days as well.
It is too big of a jump to simply drop to one nap cold turkey. If you do, you risk a very overtired, cranky baby who actually starts sleeping worse at night. We don’t want that. At all.
So, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to move that first nap 30 minutes later than normal for 3 days. For example, If the first nap is normally at 9:30 am, it will now be at 10:00 am. You can let your baby sleep as long as needed, no need to cap this nap. You will still offer a second nap later in the afternoon, but be sure your baby is up by around 4:00 pm to preserve bedtime.
For the next 3 days, you’ll now move the first nap to 10:30 am. Still offer a second nap, but again, wake baby by 4:00 pm.
For the next 3 days, move nap to 11:00 am. Do not offer a 2nd nap anymore, but instead, bring bedtime about 30 minutes earlier than normal.
Next, move nap to 11:30 am for 3 days. You will still need to have bedtime earlier.
Next, move nap to 12 noon for 3 days. Keep that earlier bedtime if your baby seems to need it!
You are going to want to hold that one nap to anywhere between 12-1:00 pm, depending on morning wake time, bedtime, baby’s temperament, etc.
|Normal 2 Nap Schedule||Days 1-3||Days 4-6||Days 7-9||Days 10-12||Days 13-16||Days 17+|
|6:30 am Wake
9:30-11 am Nap 1
2-3:30 Nap 2
7:00 pm Bed
|6:30 am Wake
10 am Nap 1
2:30-4 pm Nap 2
7:30 pm Bed
|6:30 am Wake
10:30 Nap 1
3-4 pm Nap 2
7:30 pm Bed
|6:30 am Wake
6:30 pm Bed
6:30 pm Bed
6:30/7 pm Bed
12:30 pm nap
7 pm Bed
Helpful tips when Pushing that morning nap later
It is a BIG deal to bring that morning nap later and your baby will probably feel it. It is important to push that wake window just a bit to help transition to a one-nap schedule. When your baby is tired, but it’s not nap time yet, try these tips!
- Stay out of the car or stroller. It will be way too easy for your baby to fall asleep and you need to nice, long crib nap!
- Get outside! Fresh air and sunshine are oftentimes enough to give your toddler a burst of energy to make it until nap time.
- Have a snack! A snack with natural sugars (like fruit) can also give them a boost
Be consistent and give it time!
This is a big transition for your little one and can take a full 4-6 weeks for their body’s to acclimate to this new schedule. The best way to help them adjust is to stick to that one nap and not go back and forth to 2 naps. It will just delay the transition.
You will most likely need to move bedtime earlier when making this transition, and that’s ok! Try to have your baby in bed about 12 hours after morning wake-up.
How long should the one nap be?
This is important! Just because you’re down to 1 nap, it doesn’t necessarily mean your toddler needs less sleep, they just need more time to build up sleep pressure. It is important that this nap be a minimum of 90 minutes, and it may go as long as 3 hours! It is common to have some short naps while making the transition, but if short naps are still happing 6 weeks out, then it’s time to contact me about troubleshooting short naps.
Lunch and Nap
While making this transition, you may need to be a bit creative about when you’re serving lunch. It’s okay if lunch needs to be either early or late…or if you just need some extra snacks to hold your toddler over until the next mealtime or nap time.
However, once you have reached your desired nap time (anywhere between noon-1 pm), I highly recommend going straight to the nap time routine after finishing lunch. If you add an activity after lunch, it will be more difficult to convince your child that a nap is a good idea and they will most likely get a second wind. Bringing the nap directly after lunch will also play on the natural fatigue that occurs while digesting their delicious lunch!
You’re set for a while now!
One great thing about this milestone is that you will be here for the considerable future. Your toddler will keep this one nap until a minimum of 2.5 years, and many parents can keep it even longer! Gone are the days of always wondering if the next nap transition is just around the corner or not.
Now that your little one is on this one nap, enjoy your freedom. It is so much easier to plan your days around a one-nap schedule! Get out, and enjoy those library story times and swim lessons in the mornings. You deserve it!
If this 2 to 1 nap transition has been a struggle for your family, please reach out! I’ve helped many families successfully transition through these changes and I’d love your family to be next.