How to Shift from Having Two Naps to Only One

When your child suddenly refuses to sleep without a battle, it may be time to alter their usual naptime routine. Discover how to shift from having two naps to only one, as we provide the lowdown on making a smooth transition and helping your child adapt to the change.

Many parents have established a daytime regimen by the end of their baby’s first year, including two naps at different times (one in the morning and one in the afternoon). Yet, around the age of 12 months, many infants launched a minor revolt, which resulted in a change in their napping patterns.

According to Harvey Karp, M.D., author of The Happiest Baby Guide to Excellent Sleep, children often transition from two naps to one between the ages of one and two. Time and method of transition might be challenging to determine, but this plan can help.

Indications Your Child Requires Two Daily Naps

Are you debating whether or not to make the “two to one” naptime transition? According to Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Nap Solution, two daily naps are necessary if parents see the following symptoms.

  • Your infant is younger than 12 months.
  • Your child may play, resist, or fuss for a while when you put them down for a nap, but after an hour or so, they will go asleep and stay asleep.
  • On daylight car trips, your child typically dozes off.
  • If your child misses a nap, they may get irritable or act exhausted.
  • Introducing a new sibling, an illness, or the beginning of daycare are just a few examples of life changes that could interfere with your child’s usual nap routine.
  • When you’re out and about, your child doesn’t nap, but at home, they nap for two solid hours.

The Telltale Indicators That Your Kid Is Ready to Make the Switch to Once-Daily Nap

Many cues can indicate that your child’s naptime routine needs adjustment. The No-Cry Nap Solution suggests looking for these signals to know whether a change is right.

  • Your child plays or fusses when put down for a nap, and either sleep for a short time or doesn’t sleep at all.
  • Your little one can ride in the car first thing in the morning without nodding off.
  • If your youngster doesn’t get their nap, don’t worry; they’ll be happy and hyper until it’s time for bed.
  • One of your child’s naps goes swimmingly, but the other nap is met with fierce resistance.

Generally speaking, Kim West, a children’s sleep therapist, says that if you detect persistent changes in your toddler’s sleep schedule for around two weeks, it may be appropriate to move to one nap.

Tips for Going from Two Naps to One

If you try to make the change before your child is ready, they may be miserable during the day and awake at night again. Because kids who are overtired have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep compared to youngsters who get enough rest. West recommends trying different things with your toddler’s routine to see if that helps resolve the issue before you decide to combine naps.

Try waking them up early from their morning nap to see if it makes them more cooperative in the afternoon if they tend to break down after a long nap and then in the morning. After 75 minutes of sleep, wake them up; if that doesn’t work, reduce the time. Don’t nap your child for less than 45 minutes at a time because that’s how long it takes for them to go through an entire sleep cycle.

If you’re trying to go from two naps to one, here are some more suggestions.

Modify your approach gradually.

The “one nap is too little, two naps are too much” phase often lasts anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months. When you think your child is old enough, you can start preparing them for a single nap during the middle of the day. Get started by delaying the morning nap by 15 minutes per day for the first two days. The ideal time to get going is right after lunch. After then, your child is likely to need two to two and a half hours of sleep.

It’s worth a try to lull your child back to sleep if you know they typically wake up after an hour. The usage of a white-noise machine may also enable children to sleep for extended periods of time. West advises parents to resort to tried-and-true methods—such as driving or putting their child in a stroller—if nothing else seems to work.

Quiet time will smooth out rough spots.

Your toddler might be experiencing some sleep disruptions because of this developmental period. According to Dr. George J. Cohen, “quiet time,” during which you read or listen to calm music, might help soothe your child’s morning crankiness as you transition to one nap.

Make allowances for less sleep.

To compensate for the lost sleep during the day, try pushing their dinner and bedtime up a bit. Also, if your child often needs two naps, you should be flexible and allow for such days.

Evaluate their schedule at daycare.

West recommends communicating with the daycare staff to figure out a solution if your child’s sleep schedule there doesn’t mesh with the one that works at home. You may even inquire if switching your child’s room during quiet time is an option at the facility. But if the director can’t work with you, don’t worry too much: Many children thrive when they adhere to one weeknight sleep schedule but another on weekends. Once the two are in sync, you won’t have to worry about naptime again until they reach about three or four years of age, when they typically stop taking naps for good.

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