As your baby grows into a toddler and their need for sleep decreases, it is still extremely important to provide an opportunity for naps and rest time through to about 3-4 years of age. Most toddlers are ready to transition to just one nap somewhere between 14 and 18 months of age. (some toddlers transition as early as 12 months and some as late as 2 years)
As your baby’s nap times transition, your baby might not continue to nap the same amount of hours and the night time sleep may lengthen (temporarily or permanently) to accommodate the missing hours.
How can you tell they are ready to transition?
Pushing your toddler to transition to one nap before they are ready can cause over-tiredness and contribute to shorter nap times, crankiness and more sleep problems at night. As I always say, sleep begets sleep. It’s a good idea to think of your baby as “consolidating” their naps as opposed to “dropping” a nap.
If your baby starts to resist the morning nap, takes longer and longer to fall asleep and only has a short morning nap or long morning nap and refuses the afternoon nap your baby may be ready to consolidate their naps. You’ll start to notice your baby seems to survive on just one nap a day here and there and then the frequency of those days increase.
If your baby starts to skip their afternoon nap regularly or delay their morning nap too late to be able to fit in an afternoon nap; they are generally ready to transition to one nap. Transitioning or consolidating day time naps should only happen after baby can sleep through the night for at least 11 hours over a 3 week period.
Tips on successfully transitioning to one nap.
If your baby still gets sleepy at their normal morning nap time, push that nap back by 15 minutes each day until you are at your ideal nap time. You should be aiming for somewhere between 11am – 12pm; the ideal nap time will depend on baby’s wake and bed times. For example waking at 6am – aim for an 11am nap and 6pm bedtime. For a 7am wake time – aim for a 12pm nap and 7pm bedtime.
If your baby isn’t sleepy at their normal morning nap time, consider going straight to your new nap time straight away.
Encourage your baby to have at least a 2 hour nap, or at least stay in bed for a minimum of 2 hours to encourage baby to lengthen their nap time. If baby wakes too early from their nap, try to encourage falling back to sleep.
Naps generally lengthen over a 2-4 week period, however some babies will continue to only nap for an hour – an hour and a half. As long as the nap is over 1 hour, this is okay, just ensure bedtime is early enough to ensure the recommended total sleep is achieved over 24 hours.
Nap transitioning is a gradual process and shouldn’t be rushed. Don’t be surprised if your baby reverts to 2 sleeps on some days while transitioning, this is completely normal. Try to allow flexibility in their day and your routine to allow for the second nap during the first month or so, so they don’t get too over-tired.
If you would like personalised help with any sleep issue for a child, newborn to 5 years, contact Katie Forsythe at The Baby Sleep Co today on 0457 473 725 or click here to send us an email.
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