The two to one nap transition is possibly one of the hardest transitions you’ll go through with your little one. I’d love to tell you that it is easy or quick, but it can often take a few months for your little one to make that transition. However, once you have you’ll find that your days are so much freer, with the ability to schedule fun activities in the morning and the late afternoon, instead of feeling like you’ve only got a few hours to get out and about in the day.
How do I know whether my little one is ready to make the transition?
The age at which a child might transition from two naps to one is quite wide. Try not to compare your little one to other children you know. A baby may transition as early as 12 months or as late as 18 months. The average is somewhere around the 15-month mark.
Just because your little one is fighting some naps, don’t immediately decide that they are ready to make the transition. We want them to be on 2 naps for as long as possible. Around the one year mark there is a lot of progress happening developmentally which can impact on naps, so wait for at least 2 weeks before deciding that 2 naps might be a thing of the past.
Some little ones will start taking longer to fall asleep (or spend the whole time playing in the crib) at their morning nap, whilst others will start to take a really long morning nap and then play in the crib the whole of their afternoon nap. Both are signs of needing to move from two naps to 1.
How to transition to one nap?
If your little one has started to play through their morning nap and therefore end up just taking one nap then you’ve got a pretty easy transition on your hands. You could just go cold turkey and start the nap around 12 pm to begin with and once they get used to that gently move it to 12:30 pm. When a child is consistently taking one nap a day it should start around 12:30-1 pm.
If your little one is taking a long morning nap, but playing through the afternoon one, you may need to take a more gradual approach to the nap transition. Gradually push the morning nap later (in 15-30 minute increments) until you hit that sweet spot of 12:30 pm.
How long should the nap be?
Sometimes when a child is starting to take one nap a day they may have super long 3-hour naps, but as they get used to the new schedule you will be aiming for a nap of about 1.5 – 2 hours. Remember though, every child is different and you can look at their behavior in the late afternoon to see if they are napping enough.
Should bedtime change?
When children transition from two to one nap you will find that their bedtime will shift earlier to compensate. During the transition period, it is also important to offer up even earlier bedtimes as they get used to this new schedule. You want to prevent them from becoming overtired, as this could start a whole new set of sleep problems.
Remember that the transition from two naps to one isn’t an easy one. Don’t be in a hurry to make the transition. If you are not sure if your child is ready, please schedule a sleep chat with me so you can discuss it and work out a plan of action. If your little one isn’t sleeping through the night well or having issues with early wake-ups it is best to address these first, before looking at a nap transition. On that note, with time, patience and consistency you will get through this nap transition and have a rock star napper at the other end!