transitioning your toddler from two naps to one: sleeping child

The first thing I learned when becoming a parent and a sleep consultant is that change is inevitable, especially regarding sleep! It seems as soon as our toddlers get into a consistent nap routine then things get turned upside down, leaving us as parents to wonder “what now?”

Transitioning from two naps to one can be complicated and requires patience, as it’s a slow process. Your toddler will need time to adjust to the change.

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Most toddlers switch to one nap sometime between 13 – 18 months, it’s best to watch your toddler for signs that they are ready to make this transition:

Signs your toddler is ready to transition from two naps to one

  • Refusing one of the naps but still taking the other one. For example, she’ll refuse the afternoon nap but takes the morning nap as usual. Occasionally it’s the morning nap that becomes the challenge and the afternoon nap becomes the long one.
  • Playing, talking or fussing in bed, skipping the nap entirely or taking a very short nap.
  • Refusing a nap at the usual time, but falls asleep later.
  • Your toddler usually takes 2 naps of equal length, but now nap lengths are different. One nap might be long and the other nap really short.
  • These things won’t happen every day but if you find it to be consistent for 4-5 days in a row, then it may be time to make the switch from one nap to two.

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How to transition your child from two naps a day to one 

It is not an easy transition to make and will most likely take a month or so before your child seems comfortable with the change. Try these expert tips and tricks:

  • Start by moving your baby’s morning nap later by half an hour, for 3 days and let her sleep as long as she likes. After the 3 days are up, move it again by another half an hour. Repeat this until nap time is at around midday. You will most likely find that naptime hovers between 11:30 and 12:00 for several months.
  • Your toddler may still seem tired at their usual naptime, so try taking her outside and changing the scenery, or giving her a snack when you notice that morning grumpiness set in.
  • Implement quiet time around 14:30 to help take the edge off until bedtime. Even if she does not sleep, at least she had some down time on her own.

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  • Do not let her sleep past 15:00 as this could interfere with bedtime!
  • Now that your toddler will be napping only once each day, it’s important that this nap is at home. Napping at home in the crib is more restorative than naps on-the-go.
  • I also suggest that throughout the transition your toddler should be going to bed somewhere between 18:00 – 19:00 at the latest.

This transition is definitely a tricky one and requires time and patience, however this is the BEST nap transition (in my opinion) because it leads to a blissful long nap every day, which means down time for YOU to enjoy and recharge!