There are three major nap transitions that will happen in your little one’s life – the 3-to-2 nap transition, the 2-to-1, and the 1-to-none. This post is the second in my three-part series and is all about the two naps to one nap transition.
What is this transition?
When your little one is napping twice a day, nap one is in the morning and nap two is in the early afternoon. The 2-to-1 transition is when you drop the morning nap.
When does this happen?
Kids are typically ready for this change when they are between 15 and 18 months old. But it can happen as early as 13 months or as late as 23 months.
Some little ones have to drop to one nap when they start daycare around the age of one. Otherwise, it’s best to wait until your child is ready so the change is as easy as possible.
What are the signs that your little one is ready to drop to one nap a day?
There are two possibilities:
- Your child rejects their morning nap. This means they are taking a very long time to fall asleep, or are no longer napping at all in the morning. Wait until this has happened regularly for a couple of weeks before dropping to one nap a day.
- Your child rejects their afternoon nap. They might take a very long time to fall asleep, not nap at all in the afternoon, or only be ready for the afternoon nap so late that it compromises their bedtime. Again, wait until this has happened regularly for a couple of weeks before dropping to one nap a day.
How do you make the transition as easy as possible?
- If your little one stopped taking their morning nap, the change is easy. Start putting them down once a day, at noon. Even though your child is ready for only one nap a day, that one nap will need to be slightly earlier than their existing afternoon nap.
- If your little one stopped taking their afternoon nap, you will still only be putting your child down once a day, at noon. But since they’re used to napping in the morning, they may not enjoy being kept up until midday. You can keep them awake by getting outside in the fresh air and sunshine (if possible), going to a class or activity together, or just engaging in play at home that your little one really enjoys. If your napper is still struggling to get to noon, you can gradually get to that time, starting as close to noon as you can get.
- If you had to make the change due to daycare, you can still offer two naps on home days. But as soon as you see your child struggling with two naps at home (because they’re used to only one nap on daycare days), drop the morning nap.
During this transition (particularly if you child is temporarily only napping once a day at 11:00 a.m. or 11:30 a.m. or had to make the change before they were ready), moving their bedtime earlier will prevent them from becoming overtired.
When is the nap transition done?
When you can say yes to these things:
- Do they go to sleep easily and stay asleep for the duration of the nap?
- Do they sleep for an hour and a half or more during their one nap a day?
- Do they wake up from their nap happy (which means they feel rested)?
Once you’ve reached this point, you can push the nap later than noon if you’d like to. Early risers may need to nap every day at 12:30 p.m. Later risers should do well with a 1:00 p.m. nap.
This nap transition is the most challenging, so if you are finding it hard, that does not mean you are doing anything wrong. It can be a few weeks or even a few months (especially if the transition happens before your little one is fully ready) before their one nap a day is established. But I promise you that if you stick with it and remain consistent, you will have a little one taking a nice, long nap every day!