2-1 Nap Transition (Around 10 - 18 Months of Age)
If I am being honest, and you know I am all about honestly around here, this was the hardest nap transition for all three of my kiddos! You finally have settled into a blissful two nap routine, you have been on this 2 nap life for a solid 6+ months and then bam - your child is flat out refusing their second nap, leaving you to stretch your wake window from 11am until an appropriate bedtime!!
But I am here to tell you, with some tips, tricks and whole lot of patience and consistency, your child will go back to a blissful nap schedule and live the best 1 nap life.
Now that we have been in this transition with my third for about 3 months, life is definitely easier. We get to go enjoy the sunshine in the morning, have lunch and then he goes for a nap! Our routine and day is ironed out…but it took some work!
When does the 2-1 nap transition occur?
On average the 2-1 nap transition happens around 15 months of age. Remember all children are different, so some will transition as early as 10 months and some will transition closer to 18 months and that is absolutely okay!
This transition is a bit harder and takes longer than the 3-2 nap transition, as your baby’s daytime sleep is impacted. There’s a lot more pressure on this one nap to get all the day sleep your child needs! If you have been doing a long morning nap and then a short afternoon nap, it will take you a bit longer to merge those two naps together. Your goal is to manipulate the morning nap until it is gone,
What ends up happening is that the first nap will be eliminated; your child will begin to consistently stay awake and play through this nap (consistently means several days to a week) and that will let you know it’s time to drop it. If your child begins to consistently fall asleep later in the morning, leading to a later second nap that interferes with bedtime, this is also a cue to drop down to one one nap.
Below is an example of what a one nap schedule may look like for a 10-18 month old.
Typical 1 Nap Schedule
(~ 5 Hours of Wake time between sleep periods)
7 am — Wake up and feed
12 pm — Nap (2 - 3 hours)
7 -8 pm — Bedtime
Keep in mind that at this age your child requires a minimum of 12-13 hours of total sleep. Day sleep is max 3 hours, but if this is “stealing” from night sleep then you want to cap it at 2 hours. Night sleep is always the most restorative sleep, and therefore you want to prioritize it!
How to navigate the 2-1 nap transition?
In the beginning you can slowly bump your morning nap later by 15-30 minutes. Your goal is to get to one nap in the early afternoon approximately at 12 pm. Some helpful tips to help with this transition include:
Slowly move first nap later: Start by shooting for a morning nap at around 11am, then the next day move it to 11:15 am, then 11:30 am, then 12 pm. The more consistent you are, the better it is! Once you get to a 12pm nap time it will become the time that becomes the most predictable for your child, the more you put them down to sleep! Keep in mind as you are manipulating the first nap, you will need to opt for an earlier bedtime to prevent a sleep debt from forming.
Don’t be afraid of offering two naps one day: During this transition it is absolutely okay to offer two naps one day, and one nap another day. I actually encourage this for my families that send their babies to daycare Monday-Friday. A lot of daycares have a nap time around 12 pm, and some babies aren’t fully ready for this transition. However, they do it and bedtime is moved earlier and you get through the week - all is good! I then encourage them to offer two naps on the weekend, to catch up on sleep and this works beautifully. A lot of babies start to prefer their one nap life, and start taking lengthier naps during the weekend for their parents. Bliss!
Stick to your routine: Continue to do your nap time routine before naps to help cue your child to sleep. Around this transition some babies are heading to daycare, so I would encourage you to write a letter to the childcare provider of what your child likes for their sleep. This will help with consistency, and help sleep be achieved easier!
Earlier bedtimes are your friend: If your child has started having early morning wakings, or more night wakings this is a tell tale sign that they are overtired. Move bedtime earlier, to help with your childs sleep debt if they have accumulated one, or to help prevent one from developing.
Be gentle with yourself: Nap transitions are never black and white. If nap transitions or anything sleep related was easy, sleep experts wouldn’t exist. This transition can take a couple weeks for you to be in a beautiful rhythm of your child taking one consistent 12pm nap. So hang in there, keep going, you’ve got this!! And for the days that don’t go as planned, always remember tomorrow is a new day. I call those “reset days”!
Your child may transition cold turkey or gradually; this means they may need two naps for a day or two and then will be able to get by with one nap for a day or two.
The one nap may need to be moved earlier as they get accustomed to only one nap. This means moving the nap to 11:30am for a little while, then slowly moving it later to noon to achieve one sleep period in the early afternoon.
As always, move bedtime earlier again during the transition, especially if one nap lasts less than 2 hours.
If your child is getting less than optimal amount of hours of sleep for a child their age, and the best way to remedy this is to temporarily move bedtime earlier. This is an important rule to follow and can be used as your grows; always replace lost sleep with an earlier bedtime when possible. The drive to sleep is the strongest at the front of the night, but the sleep itself is also deeper and more restorative than at any other time.
This means if your child missed a nap, goes to bed late, wakes up early...the best thing to do is move bedtime earlier. An overtired baby isn’t just a cranky or fussy baby, an overtired baby is also more likely to awaken at night than a well rested baby because sleep begets sleep! The less rested a child is, the less that child will sleep.
You’ve got this! Sleep is coming!
Wondering about the other nap transitions, and what to do when your child is done napping? I got you covered! To schedule a 15 minute free Discovery Call to find out more about how I can help your family nurture healthy sleep don’t hesitate to reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org