Most children will go down to 1 nap between 15 and 18 months of age. Once your child is just having one nap, this should fall in the afternoon ideally staring around 1pm and she should be awake by 4:30pm so the naps don’t interfere with night sleep.
Often parents find it confusing during this transition time because one nap may not be enough some days but 2 naps seem like too much or will throw off bedtime. So how do you know when your baby is ready to go down to just one nap? What is the gentlest way to help your child make this transition?
When your child is ready to start transitioning to one nap you may notice:
- It takes longer for her to fall asleep for the morning or afternoon nap
- You can’t get your child to nap before 9:30/10am for the first nap
- Naps are getting shorter
- When she has a good morning nap the afternoon nap is shorter or she refuses it all together
A gentle way to transition down to 1 nap is to make sure that the afternoon nap takes priority. The afternoon nap is the one that your child is likely going to need for at least another 2 years. We want that nap to start around 1pm and last for at least 1.5 hours. Keeping an eye on the morning nap and make sure that it does not compromise the afternoon nap and if it does shorten it. This may mean waking her up early from the morning nap so she sleeps well in the afternoon. A good afternoon nap will help her get to bedtime without getting over-tired and will in turn improve night sleep. So if your child takes a 1 hour morning nap and the afternoon nap still starts around 1pm and lasts 1.5 hours or more this is perfect. As your child gets older, you will find that the afternoon nap starts to be compromised by the morning nap . When this happens, shorten the morning nap by 10-15 minutes at a time and see if this improves the afternoon nap. If not, continue to shorten the morning nap until she is taking a good afternoon nap. Eventually your morning nap will get down to 10-20 minutes and you can eliminate it all together.
If you need help navigation through this nap transition or helping your baby get used to the nap schedule at daycare, contact us for a mini-consult and we can help you through the process.
Article by Andrea Strang, KinderSleep