two naps to one
The transition from 2 naps a day to 1 nap a day usually occurs sometime between 12 and 18 months for most babies. It can sometimes be difficult to tell when your baby is ready to make the switch from 2 naps a day to 1, and dropping a nap too soon can backfire and lead to an overtired baby and sleep issues at night.
There are a few signs that can signal that your baby is ready to make that switch and drop a nap:
The transition from 2 naps to 1 is one of the hardest transitions they will make, and it can take them a month or more to adjust to the change. In the beginning they might be overtired and do some short naps, making it harder to stretch to their normal bedtime. Bumping bedtime earlier might be necessary on occasion while they are adjusting. Although it can be challenging, and tempting to sometimes give them 2 naps again, it is best not to go back and forth between 2 naps and 1.
If your baby still seems tired at their normal naptime, just keep them busy. If your baby gets grumpy you can try distracting them by taking them outside, or by replacing the usual naptime with a snack time.
Making the switch
Start by moving your baby’s morning nap time later by half an hour (if they usually napped at 9:30 move it to 10:00), keep it at this time for 3 days and let them sleep as long as they like, do not wake them.
Put your baby down for “quiet time” around 2:30 p.m. in order to take the edge off until bedtime. Leave them in their crib for an hour. They may not sleep, but at least will have some down time on their own. If they do fall asleep, wake them up by 4:00 p.m. at the latest so that bedtime is preserved.
If your baby did not sleep during quiet time then you will need to move bedtime up as early as 6:00 p.m. to prevent them from becoming overtired.
After 3 days move the morning nap later by another half hour (10:30 a.m.) for 3 days. Follow the same advice for the afternoon quiet time and bedtime.
Move the morning nap later by another half hour (11:00 a.m.) for 3 days. There may not be time for afternoon quiet time at this point, and you will likely find your baby very difficult to deal with around the suppertime hour. Don’t be afraid to put them to bed early!
Move nap time to 11:30 a.m., which might mean that lunchtime is now bumped up before the nap. It is normal for them to be very tired during lunch, they might even be nodding off the sleep while you try to get them fed!
Move nap time to 12:00 PM
Nap time will likely hover between 12:00 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. 1:00pm can be too late for some children, as they have missed their optimal window and are now catching their second wind. This is not an easy transition for your child so be patient as this may take a month or more before you notice that your child is handling the switch much better. I also suggest that throughout the transition your child should be going to bed somewhere between 6:30 and 7:30 at the latest.
Transitions are always a little tough, but by following these guidelines, getting there should be a little smoother.
If you have questions, I am always here to help.
Take care and sleep well,