Some parents proudly look at the change from 2 naps to 1 as a major accomplishment, something akin to a college graduation! But what’s the rush? Daytime naps are lovely, and as I’ve said, adequate daytime sleep promotes good nighttime sleep—sleep begets sleep. Although it is also true that too much daytime sleep may delay bedtime or cause middle-of-the-night waking.

When Do Babies Transition to One Nap?

Most babies drop the second nap between 12 and 24 months. But be aware, this transition period is often rocky. Some toddlers drop the morning nap, some the afternoon nap…and others alternate (one day they nap in the morning, the next day in the afternoon)!

Consider yourself very lucky if your little guy is happy and playful in the late morning as he starts to skip his post breakfast snooze. More often, babies start skipping the morning nap but still need it. And this internal ambivalence makes them overtired and extra grumpy…and weepy. (In other words, even more like a little caveman as usual!)

How to Transition to One Nap

Your baby may spend a few weeks bouncing back and forth between 1 and 2 naps. (It’s almost like he needs 1 1/2 naps per day!) Many parents find that the best strategy for this “in-between” period is to at least have a midmorning rest time (with white noise, a and perhaps a little reading or massage). If your child seems antsy, let him watch 20 minutes of a calming Sesame Street or nature DVD (no cartoons, please).

Signs Your Baby / Toddler Is Ready to Drop Naps

Your toddler is 13-18 months old and does at least one of the following:

  • Your baby refuses his naps for two weeks
  • Your toddler is fussing or talking rather than taking his nap
  • Your baby continues to refuse his afternoon nap but takes his morning nap
  • Your baby is not refusing any naps (which could be a sign of regression)
  • If your toddler is refusing his regularly scheduled naps and falling asleep later, then it may be a sign he’s ready to drop naps
  • Your baby was taking equal length naps, but his naps now vary in time.
  • Your baby spends more time awake than usual without any fussiness. Typically around 4-5 hours straight.

Again, if you see these signs consistently for approximately two weeks, then it may be  time to transition your toddler to one nap.

Transition to One Nap: Final Thoughts

If your little guy switches to 1 nap, but then starts waking too early in the morning and seems overtired all day (irritable, staring, rubbing his eyes, falling back asleep while snacking, being more clumsy, etc.), go back to 2 naps for a month or two.

When he finally settles into a 1-nap schedule, the noon nap will last a little longer, and lunch, dinner and bedtime will arrive a little earlier.

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