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Transitioning from 2 Naps to 1 Nap per Day

Nap Transitioning

Nap transitions can be one of the many reasons why children’s sleep may seem complicated. In the first year of life, your baby goes through many of these transitions! From several naps a day as a newborn, to only one nap when they reach their first year.

Each time a nap is eliminated, bedtime is adjusted to help the child adapt, but just when you finally adjust to the new rhythm, it’s already time to eliminate another nap!

It’s like learning to dance; just as you master one choreography, it’s time to move on to a new one!

The transition that we find most challenging is the move to a single nap. During this period, your child’s sleep may become a bit unsettled and it may take some time to find a new balance.

On the other hand, consolidating the two naps into one means having a precious 2-3 hour break in the middle of the day. During that time, parents can take care of many errands or take a well-deserved break if needed. Let’s be honest, even we, sleep consultants and mothers, have taken a short nap during these breaks!

But how do you know when the right time is and how can you make this transition effectively?

First of all, the transition from 2 to 1 nap usually happens on average between 13 and 15 months. This means that some children may be ready at 11 months, while others at 18 months.

A very strong signal is if the child seems to fall asleep easily for the morning nap but then plays or is restless for an hour before falling asleep in the afternoon. If this happens four or five times in a week, it’s likely time to make the transition. However, before deciding, observe if this behaviour persists for at least two weeks, as the child’s developmental milestones (such as teething, crawling, etc.) can cause some minor sleep disruptions that might make you think they are ready when they are not.

Be cautious! Once you start the process, it’s important not to go back. If you remove a nap but then the child resists the change, it could create confusion and further complicate the situation.

So, when you are sure the right time has come, it’s time to implement the new system. But remember, you can’t change the routine suddenly!

Our approach is to gradually shift the morning nap forward by half an hour every three days, until the nap reaches around 12:30 PM. Take all the time you need, as this transition may be challenging for your little one. Don’t worry if the process takes 4-6 weeks to be fully implemented, every child is different!

During the transition, your child might feel a bit drowsy at their usual nap time. During those moments, avoid taking a car ride or using a stroller. A piece of fruit (or fruit juice) can provide the needed energy boost to overcome this drowsy period, so keep their favourite snacks in the fridge.

Temporarily, you might need to bring forward the bedtime until your little one gets used to the new routine.

Once your child gets used to taking one nap, you may notice some inconsistency in its duration. This is entirely normal; it will take some time for their body to adjust to consolidating daytime sleep into one afternoon nap.

And before you even realize it, your little one will have overcome this small initial challenge and will enjoy a regular afternoon break. Once you get used to the fact that your child is growing up in the blink of an eye, you can enjoy some free time and a more flexible daily routine.

Your Sleep Consultants NAP,

Cristina & Meriame