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Transitioning From Two to One Nap Per Day

I struggled figuring out nap time, and once I had nap time under control the next challenge was transitioning from two to one naps per day. Madi transitioned from two naps to one nap per day when she was 15 months old. George is 14 months old and continues to fluctuate from two to one nap per day.

I was not able to find any medical journals explaining how to do this transition, so I will share my own personal experience and the experiences of my patients and friends.

Children Can Transition To One Nap Around 12-24 Months Old

At around 15 months, Madi transitioned from two naps per day, to one nap per day. Some children transition from two naps to one nap at around 12 months old, while others transition to one nap as late as 24 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 – 4:00/4:30.  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.

We made the transition to one nap per day 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, like my son George, may need a longer time to transition from two naps to one. Some days were easy, as Madi 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; Madi would be so grumpy by 5pm from being overtired and I would put her to bed earlier.

For some children the transition to one nap per day is easy but for others it can be extremely challenging!

This post was co-authored by  Stephanie Liu, MD, MSc, CCFP, BHSc and Suzanne Black, MD, BSc.

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