Part 1: A Comprehensive Guide for Parents About How to Transition Their Child From 2 Naps to 1.
As your child nears their first birthday, you may begin to think about moving to just one nap a day. "When is the right time to transition my child to one nap?" is a question I often hear from parents just like you.
Switching from two naps to one can feel tricky, especially for first-time parents. Just when you feel you've got a handle on your child's nap routine, it changes again. You might find your toddler starts to push back when it's time for a nap.
Changing to one nap can make a big difference to your child's daily routine. The time they spend awake will stretch from 3-4 hours to between 5 ½ and 6 hours each day. So, before you start the transition, you need to make sure:
- Your child is ready for it.
- Be gentle, be patient, and avoid rushing the process.
When should a toddler transition from two naps to one?
You may have heard from friends, family, or daycare centers that your toddler should be on one nap by their first birthday. But that's not always the case.
On average, toddlers move to one nap around 15 months. But most children switch to one nap sometime between 12 and 18 months.
Starting the transition too early might not be good. It can cause your child to become overtired, which can result in more night wakings or shorter naps. So, stick with two naps until you feel your child is ready to change.
Children under one year typically aren't ready to move to one nap. But if your child seems ready to make the change, try shortening their morning nap instead of moving straight to one nap. Keep a close eye on them to see if this change helps their sleep.
Signs the child is ready for to transition from 2 naps to 1
If you're wondering whether your child is ready to transition from two naps to one, you need to look out for some key signs. But remember, if your daycare or family routine needs your child to move to one nap at a certain age, that's perfectly fine too.
Here are the signs the child is ready for the transition:
Your child is over 12 months old.
Typically, children are ready to move to one nap between 14 and 15 months of age. But don't worry if your little one starts the transition anywhere between 12 and 18 months - this is normal.
Your child has started to resist one of their naps consistently over the past two weeks.
This could be a clear sign your child is ready to transition. Usually, most toddlers resist the afternoon nap. However, remember that some children may resist their morning nap. If your child is resisting the afternoon nap around 4 – 5 times per week for two weeks, even with your attempts to help them nap, they could be ready to move to one nap a day.
A note of caution:
We're discussing situations where your child is refusing just one of their naps, not all their naps. If your toddler is refusing all their naps, this could be a sign of other issues, such as overtiredness or sleep regression.
Your toddler has started having shorter naps.
Previously, your child's two naps were of equal length. Now, one nap is considerably longer, while the other is much shorter. For instance, the morning nap could last 1:30 hours while the afternoon nap lasts only 40 minutes.
Your child has started waking up more often during the night in the past few weeks.
Before this, you child had a good night's sleep. If your toddler has started waking up more frequently at night, it could be a sign they are ready to transition to one nap.
Even when your child misses a nap, they still seem rested and happy.
They seem fine staying awake for 4-5 hours. If this is the case with your child, it could be a clear indication they are ready for the transition to one nap a day.
If your toddler is resisting their usual nap times only to fall asleep later, this could be a sign they're ready to move to one nap.
This delay might mean they end up waking from their nap at the usual nap time, making it seem as though they've missed their nap altogether because they weren't tired enough to sleep. Or, this could push their bedtime too late.
Are you finding it tough to get your toddler to sleep?
If it takes more than 20 minutes to settle them down for naps, it might be time to consider transitioning to one nap.
Very late afternoon nap
Perhaps you've noticed that your child takes their afternoon nap very late in the day. This could make it challenging to fit in two naps without pushing bedtime too late into the evening.
Trouble falling asleep at bedtime
You might also see that your child is having trouble falling asleep at bedtime. Even if they aren't yet refusing their naps, if it's taking a long time to get them to sleep at night, they might simply not be tired enough.
Your toddler suddenly starts to wakes up very early in the morning
Then there's the sudden early riser - your toddler wakes up very early in the morning (before 6:00 am, for more than ten days in a row). If you've ruled out other causes of early wake-ups like overtiredness, an early bedtime, or too much sleep during the day, it could be time to think about moving to one nap.
But keep in mind that developmental milestones can disrupt your child’s sleep. This could mistakenly lead you to think your toddler is ready for the transition when they're actually not. So, make sure you're seeing these signs consistently for at least two weeks before deciding to drop to one nap.
Finding the Right Sleep Solution
Transitioning your child from two naps to one can be a significant milestone in your parenting journey. As your child navigates this change, your support is essential. Ensure your child is ready for the transition, and remember to exercise patience. Rushing this process can lead to overtiredness, which can in turn disrupt their sleep and elevate their stress hormones, making it more challenging for them to fall or stay asleep.
If you find yourself struggling with this transition, it's okay to seek help. As a certified child sleep consultant, I am here to provide support and guidance throughout this process. Together, we can create a tailored plan that caters to your child's unique needs and ensures a smooth transition. Please feel free to reach out for advice or review the baby sleep consultation services I offer to help solve your baby sleep issues.