The Two to One Nap Transition
If your toddler is between the ages of 15 and 18 months they are probably ready to go from two to one nap a day.
The world is a fascinating place for toddlers and they can stay awake for much longer than they were able to before. The two to one nap transition may happen sooner than you expected, especially if your toddler has older siblings!
One day, she’s as happy as a clam when you put her in the crib for her morning and midday naps and she sleeps beautifully; the next day, she refuses to take a nap despite the fact that you know she took a two-hour nap just the day before.
At this age, all sorts of changes are on the horizon, so don’t be concerned or believe it’s your fault if her sleep requirements begin to change.
Changing her nap pattern might seem daunting. Some days she might need more sleep, and some days less. This change may also result in a few sleepless nights.
Here are some pointers to help you navigate this nap transition:
1. When are they ready?
Between the ages of 15 and 18 months, babies are often ready for this change. It is critical to understand your child’s readiness to abandon this nap, as we do want them to be developmentally ready. Otherwise, no matter what you do, you may find yourself traveling back and forth and not being able to solve anything.
2. Don’t make the nap transition too soon…
If your child still needs two naps and you are helping them reduce to one, they may become overtired if they only take one short sleep per day, resulting in many sleep disturbances.
If your child is tired during his morning nap time (9AM/9:30AM), he may still need two naps a day, but the morning one can be shortened to create space for the afternoon nap. This may be especially true for babies 12 months +
3. Signs your child might be ready for the transition:
- They are between the ages of 15 and 18 months.
- Suddenly, they started protesting bedtime, really struggling to fall asleep.
- Early morning wake-ups keep happening no matter what you do.
- Protesting naps by either fighting to take it or just playing in the crib for the entire duration of the naps or the second one just isn’t happening at all
- Taking shorter naps
- The second nap is going past the 3 pm time, pushing your bedtime too late.
- Night wakings
- Baby is able to stay awake for longer periods of time than previously.
- This change can go hand in hand with the 18 month regression, which can also make your little one a bit more fussy and clingy
4. What to expect?
- They may be irritable and fussy for a few days or even weeks, but this is normal behavior and part of the transition.
- This transition can take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks to complete.
You can help her stay on track if you’ve been consistent in sticking to the same nap schedule on most days by trying the following:
Start by moving their morning nap later each day by 15 to 30 minutes once it’s time to drop this nap and the signs are there.
For example: If your child gets up at 7 a.m. and goes to bed at 7 p.m., his or her first nap should be around 9:30/10 a.m.
- Start pushing this time forward by 15-30 minutes.
- You can do this by keeping them occupied during their usual nap time and, if possible, exposing them to natural sunlight.
- Prepare lunch before this nap and continue with your normal nap routine. If the nap only lasts 1h30min-2hours, you’ll need to go to bed early.
- We simply want to avoid becoming overtired.
- He might even need a 15-minute power nap to get through this transition.
- NOTE: To help overcome any overtiredness, bedtime can be as early as 6 p.m.
5. Which awake window should you aim for?
A great awake window is 5h30 minutes
Any change brings with it some irritability, sleep disturbances, and night wakings.
All of these struggles will go away once your toddler is on this new schedule.