5 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About Making the Transition to 1 Nap.
It’s a momentous occasion when your child is ready to make the transition to one nap. Your day becomes much more predictable and you are able to get out and explore more with your little one. Knowing that you’ll have some you time for a few hours in the afternoon everyday is an added bonus. However, it can be very hard to know when the right time is to make the transition.
Why is this transition so different from the rest.
This transition, unlike all the other nap transitions happens at a wide age range. The transition from 4 to 3 naps happens for most babies between 2-3 months of age, 3 naps to 2 happens between 6-9 months of age, but the transition from 2 to 1 can happen anywhere from 12-20 months of age. It is most common to see your little one make this transition between 14-16 months of age. Some parents miss the window of opportunity where their child is showing the signs of readiness. Then when they go to make the transition later on, their child is much more toddler like and it is a much harder transition to make. Be sure to follow your little one’s cues so that you done miss this window.
How will I know my child is ready.
If your child is unwilling or unable to take their second nap consistently for 4-6 days in a row.
Afternoon nap is beginning to interfere with their ability to fall asleep easily at their regular bedtime.
If either of the above behaviors have been happening for at least two weeks, then it’s time to make the switch from two naps a day to one.
This is going to be a wonderful stretch for you and your little one. They’re about to start taking a two to three hour nap right in the middle of the afternoon and you’ll have a big chunk of time to do… anything you want! Get some work done, call a friend, or take a nap of your own!
Tips for a smooth transition.
It’s not going to happen overnight, but here are some tips to help make the transition as smooth and easy as possible.
1| Delay morning nap
Delay morning nap by 15-30 minutes every three-four days. Do this until nap time falls is around 12:00 P.M. If your little one is making this transition on the younger age of the spectrum you will likely find that nap around 11:30 am is their sweet spot. This will be the case until they are around 15 months of age, where you will see their stamina naturally increase and be able to make it easily to 12:00-12:30pm.
This transition takes time. Once you’ve made the adjustment and nap is happening around noon, it will take between 4-6 weeks for your child’s body to make a full adjustment to the new schedule. Don’t be surprised if your little one has trouble sleeping more that an hour at the beginning. If this is happening, be sure to give them some extra time in the crib before you go to them. Give them 15-30 minutes extra to allow them the opportunity to settle back into the next sleep cycle. It is very common to see nap length vary throughout this transition. Some days your child may take an amazing nap and others they may only get in 45 minutes. As their body clock adjusts to the new schedule naps will start to lengthen out and become more consistent.
3| Just go for it.
Baby is going to seem tired at their usual morning nap time, but once you’ve made the decision, stick to it. Offer a snack with some natural sugar in the mornings when nap time typically occurs and get outside for some fresh air. Try to avoid car and stroller rides, or anything else that typically puts baby to sleep.
4| Motion nap in the afternoon.
If baby’s getting tired in the afternoon, a quick catnap in the car or stroller can help to take the edge off. If they don’t doze off, no worries, at least you have got out of the house and into the fresh air for a little while to help make the afternoon go by quicker.
5| Early bedtime.
As your child is making this transition you will more than likely need to move bedtime earlier. Keep bedtime no later than 7:00 pm during the entire 4-6 week transition period. On poor nap days you can even slide bedtime an hour earlier. This will ensure that your child isn’t becoming overtired before bed. Over-tiredness at bedtime results in early mornings and night wakings. Then the whole next day is thrown off. Once your child has made the full transition, their naps have started to lengthen out, then you will be able to slowly adjust bedtime later. Again, this should be done slowly, 15 minutes every 3-5 days. Follow your child’s cues, if they need that early bedtime for longer than 4-6 weeks, that is okay.
This journey ahead of you and your little one is not always easy. I hope that you find grace, in the days where things dont go quite as planned. Patience when this journey feels like you are never going to get to the other side, you will get there. Stay true and strong, your little one is in great hands.