One nap, two nap, red fish, blue fish? Transitioning your toddler to one nap may seem as simple and benign as reading a Dr. Seuss Book. Yes there will be more fun to be had once you are through this transition and can have more time for morning activities, but getting to that point is a bit more like “Fox in Sox”: as trying as a tongue twister. As the book is prefaced: “Take it slowly. This book is dangerous!” The move from two naps to one is not for the faint of heart. There will be lots of struggling to keep your bleary eyed tot awake till naptime and further struggles to reach bedtime. So what’s a Mom or Dad to do? First, make sure they are truly ready before putting them (and you!) through this sometimes-arduous journey.
Most toddlers make the leap to one nap sometime between 15-18 months of age, however many 18 month olds are still taking two naps a day — so don’t rush it! But if both naps just aren’t happening, here’s what to do:
Ultimately you want the nap to begin at 12pm. On day one you will start with the nap at 11am. You will hold at 11am for 3 days. On the fourth day, you will move to 11:15am and remain there for 3 days. Then move on to 11:30 and 11:45 staying there for 3 days each too. On day 13, you will hit your target of 12pm. As your child reaches age 2, you will see the starting time of the nap move closer and closer to 1pm where it will stay until your child stops napping.
Remember this is a HUGE transition for your child. In order to keep them from becoming woefully overtired, make sure you move bedtime earlier to compensate.
• Try to get out and about in the morning prior to nap and in the afternoon after nap for some sunshine and exercise, but DO NOT let them fall asleep in the car!
• The first few days they will most likely start to crash at around 10am. Have a snack ready at this point to help keep them going. It will also ensure that they do not go down hungry for nap as lunch will be after nap on the first several days until you reach 12pm.
• Once you reach 12pm, try to have lunch before nap at 11:15. Again, this will ensure a full belly for nap.
• Be consistent. Your child will be tired and cranky and you will be tempted to revert to a two nap schedule, but this will just make it harder on them. Once you decide to take the plunge into the one nap a day pool, there is no going back. It is just too hard for your child’s body to flip back and forth. You just need to rip the Band-Aid off and go for it.
Courtesy of Amy Lage, child sleep expert and founder of Well Rested Baby.