The first year of your baby’s life is full of changes. There is always a new tooth popping, a leap, an introduction to something new, and these changes usually happen just as you are getting comfortable with your new normal.
When it comes to sleep transitions, try not to place so much worry around it. There will be MANY transitions you will need to make to your baby’s sleep in the first few years of their life, and just know even if it doesn’t go perfectly, there is always a path towards good sleep.
ONE NAP LETS GO!
The transition to one nap marks one of my favorite sleep transitions, right after sleeping through the night. Why? Because being on one nap means greater FREEDOM. You suddenly have more space to play or go out and about both in the morning and afternoon AND ALSO, you get a nice chunk of time during the day where you get a break.
When we only had one child, that one nap was prime time for naps, showers, working out, eating. You name it. We had 3 solid hours of adult only time.
So WHEN should you transition?
You have several clues here:
One of the naps is starting to take a hit.
Is your little one fighting you or taking a really long time to go down for one of their naps? Has that nap suddenly become a 45 minute or shorter nap? Usually, the nap that gets affected is the afternoon nap. If both naps are going swimmingly and you like the 2-nap schedule, then keep riding it out until it isn’t working anymore.
Early morning wake ups start to creep back in
This is the case with my son and the reason I am in the middle of the one nap transition. I will have to add a note in the coming weeks to tell you whether it resolved his early morning wakes or not. There are two things playing out here. If you are doing two naps, that second nap may not be allowing time to create enough sleep pressure that lasts though those early morning hours when we are more susceptible to waking.
The second could be the total sleep needs of your little one. If two 90-min naps are happening, those 3 hours of daytime sleep could be eating into the total sleep needs for your child. They could very well need only 2 hours of daytime sleep in order to sleep those 11-12 hours at night.
You want to! Your little one is 12 months or older, and a one nap schedule fits your family better.
Even if your baby is perfectly happy on two naps, your family schedule may do better off with just one. In this case, I suggest waiting until at least 12 months to make the change and I would do it gradually so that you don’t start a cycle of overtiredness (is that even a word?)
So how do you do it?
Some sleep consultants may suggest that you just go cold turkey on the one nap and allow a few weeks for adjustment, but I am just not a fan of that. Why? Because then you may create problems where there were none. You could cause baby to go down for the nap overtired which may lead to a short crap nap. Worse, would be for baby to already be overtired for bedtime which could cause a wake up just a few hours after being put down or difficulty falling asleep.
So here is my favorite gradual way to do it:
Push the morning nap 30 minutes back, every 3 days.
As the morning nap gets later, cut the length of the afternoon nap so that you are still allowing for at least 3.5 hours before bed. (ex. If bedtime is 7pm, make sure they are up from their second nap by 3:30pm)
Once the morning nap is late enough that there is not enough time for an afternoon nap, cut the second nap and move bedtime earlier.
Over the next few weeks, as your baby adapts to their new schedule, gradually push back bedtime to where you want it.
Now one key thing is to keep baby WIDE AWAKE before their new nap or bedtime. Some ideas to successfully do this are:
- Go play outside as you near their old naptime
- Snacks! (who doesn’t stay up longer for good snacks)
- Bring in the loud sibling, or dad play backup
- Fun new toys saved specifically for the end of their awake window
Some things to note:
- Do not linger beyond the 3 days at the new morning nap time or baby will take that as the new morning nap hour. Keep pushing forward to that 12pm marker.
- Don’t forget to adjust their eating schedule also to make sure they aren’t going too many hours without food before the next nap (could make for a bad nap!)
- Don’t stress! If for whatever reason you face a bump in the road (Literally me today as my son was up all night from a vaccine reaction), put the nap transition on the backburner until things go back to normal.
That’s all. If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to send me a message or book an evaluation call. Sleep really is only a call away!