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Nap time: how to transition to one nap

I know many of you Mama’s out there have struggled with your toddlers nap time, timing your toddlers nap, and consolidating your toddlers naps. I wasn’t able to find a medical journal or sleep article explaining how to transition to one nap per day from two naps per day. But I think it is a very important topic in parenting and sleep!  

As I mentioned The amount of time that your child spends napping per day will depend on their age, and to make sure your child is not getting sleep deprivation. If your unsure about how much time your toddler should be napping, check my previous article that explores the National Sleep Foundations recommendations for sleep, as well as the average sleep nap for toddlers.

There doesn’t seem to be evidence based medicine about how to transition to one nap – so I will just talk about my own personal experiences and the experiences of my patients and mom friends.  I hope hearing about what other moms did to help transition nap times will help guide you in getting your child a good healthy sleep.   

Children can transition to one nap around 12-19 months old

At around 15 months, Madi transitioned from two naps per day, to one nap per day. Talking to my friends and colleagues, some of their children transition from two naps to one nap at around 12 months old.  Other children transitioned to one nap as late as 19 months old.

Up until 15 months old, Madi was having two naps per day.  Her first nap was from 10am -11:30am.  Her second nap was from around 3pm – 4:00 or 4:30pm.  At 15 months old, I noticed Madi began playing in her crib during her 3 pm nap. I took this as a signal that she might just need one nap per day.  From what I have heard, other children may start napping longer during their first nap, refusing their first or second nap, or falling asleep later for their afternoon nap. These all might be signals that your little one is ready for just one nap per day.

I decided to make a transition to one nap per day when Madi was 15 months old.  I began by slowly extending Madi’s morning nap, which started at 10 am.  The first week I pushed the nap to 10:30 am, then to  11am, then to 11:30am, and finally to 12pm.  By this time, she was having a 2-3.5 hour nap around noon, and we stopped her 3 pm nap.  

Reducing the frequency of naps can take some time and patience

It took about 1.5 weeks to transition Madi to a later morning nap time.  Some children may need a longer time to transition from two naps to one. Some days were ok, as she would take a prolonged first nap for 2-3.5 hours in the early afternoon, and then she would be able to go to sleep at her normal bedtime of 7pm. Some days were more challenging, and Madi was so tired and fussy so I would just let her take her morning nap anyways as I didn’t want her to get sleep deprived (overtired infants/toddlers can have more difficulty sleeping). 

I am not going to lie, this was a difficult time as Madi would sometimes be exhausted by early evening and be extremely grumpy.  So grumpy that I would have to move up bedtime to 6pm some days.  From talking to some parents, for some children the transition is easy but for others it can be extremely challenging. 

The sleep training process also helped for Graeme and I! Based on my research, there is no medical evidence that sleep training is bad for your baby. Please check out my previous article on how I decided to sleep train!

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