The 2-1 nap transition
Lately I have had a lot of people asking me when their baby is ready to move from 2 naps to 1. This nap transition is a pretty big one. Your baby is telling you they are able to have all their daytime sleep needs met through 1 period of time in the day and they are telling you they are able to stay awake for much longer stretches of time during the day.
The first time parents may catch of glimpse of this is right around the 1-year mark. At this point, however, I urge parents to hold on! Your baby will still benefit from having 2 naps per day. The 1-year mark is a common age for a nap strike. Babies at this age are learning a lot of new skills (working on walking, new language and development) and put their need for daytime sleep on the back burner. Keep offering that quiet time alone in their crib treating it the same as you would a nap. Once their new skills are on track your little one will likely start taking better advantage of their nap time again.
(This little guy may think he is ready but he needs to wait a bit longer to move to 1 nap!)
Most babies still can’t handle long intervals of wake time until closer to 15-18 months of age without being over tired or over stimulated. Because of this I recommend keeping 2 naps so that your baby has an opportunity to rest in the morning and once in the afternoon before going to bed for the night. More daytime sleep opportunities will mean that your baby won’t be over tired going to bed at night and will be able to sleep more restfully through the night.
Some daycares require babies to give up this nap sooner. Of course that can pose some challenges but if 2 naps are absolutely not an option you will have to work out a way to help your baby catch up on some of the sleep their bodies may still need. You can do this by offering an earlier bedtime on daycare days or by continuing to offer 2 naps on the weekends/non daycare days.
As babies get older they can successfully tolerate much longer intervals of wake time allowing you to move to a 1 nap schedule.
(A little bit older older and now ready for 1 nap per day)
Signs to look for:
- Your baby continuously plays or cries throughout one nap or another without making any effort to fall asleep. Continuously meaning over the course of at least 2 weeks.
- You notice your baby’s morning nap is interfering with their ability to have a good afternoon nap. Baby has a great morning nap and doesn’t want to take an afternoon one anymore.
- You have noticed your baby is able to handle longer intervals of wake time. Your baby is bright, cheerful and interactive throughout their wake periods and does not appear tired when you start your nap wind down routine.
Once you are feeling like you are ready to make the transition you can do this in a few ways
Gradually cut the morning nap shorter and try to encourage a longer afternoon nap. Once you have a nice short morning nap you can cut it out and move towards one nap in the middle of the day.
Jump right in.
Plan a couple of fun and busy days that will encourage your baby to stay up through their normal morning nap. Work towards a nap as close to the middle of the day as possible. When you see your baby can’t make it much longer do an early lunch and get your baby down for their nap. You will need to add an early bedtime for a few days until you are bale to push that one nap to closer to the middle of the day.