How to transition from two naps to one!
So, you are feeling pretty confident with your little ones nap schedule, things are ticking along with a morning nap and afternoon nap. Then all of a sudden (because babies like to do this) you think what you know you are doing, and naps become a battle. Either your little one takes longer to fall asleep in the morning, or afternoon, or you are seeing early waking, or more night wakings, sometimes all of the above. It’s something you don’t want to push too early, as it can lead to being over tired. Most of the families that I work with find the transition happens around 13-18 months, but sometimes as early as 11 or 12. So what are some strategies to help work through this?
Trialing new wake windows
When we are talking nap transitions, often your little one is able to extend their wake window. One way you can assess this is by allowing your little one to “miss” their first nap time, and be on the lookout for tired cues. You can then adjust nap times based on new ideal wake windows, but capping the afternoon nap to avoid pushing bed time too late.
As with all aspects of sleep, it is often a matter of trying different things to see what works best for your little one, I find this especially true for naps. If you find the afternoon nap is a struggle, you can try taking 15-30 minutes off of the first nap. When families are struggling with their second nap of the day, it often ends up happening later and later, affecting bed time, and it can snowball into split nights or early waking! Sometimes naps need to be capped at 40 or even 30 minutes while working through the transition.
I also hear of parents asking, how long does the nap transition take? Of course, that is individual for each little one. I always tell parents to reflect back on the last nap transition, typically from 3-2 for an estimated timeline. Typically, it can be a week or two, and don’t be surprised by setbacks, especially with illness! While this transition can seem very rocky, rest assured (ha ha ha) that you will likely be able to maintain one nap per day for at least 1-2 more years!