Are you wondering how to do the 2 to 1 nap transition? Use these tips to help your little one become a fantastic sleeper with just one nap a day.
Many parents dread the 2 to 1 nap transition. Why? Because it means your child will now nap for only two hours per day, and the entire rest of the day, she’ll be up craving your attention.
But there’s no escaping—children require less sleep as they grow older. Dropping the second nap is critical.
For most babies, the 3 to 2 nap transition happens when they’re between 6 and 9 months of age. The 2 to 1 nap transition occurs when your baby is between 12-14 months old.
You’ll know it’s time to make the change when your little one starts refusing her morning or afternoon nap or when she starts taking two mega short naps.
But how do you make the change? Do you just go cold turkey? Or do you start by shortening the first nap?
Stay tuned because I have the answer in the blog post below.
Establish independent sleep skills with 2 to 1 Nap Transition
The foundation of healthy baby sleep is independent sleep. It’s pointless to attempt transitioning from 2 to 1 nap if your little one doesn’t know how to sleep independently.
Maybe you’re rocking her to sleep or holding her in your hands until she drifts off to sleep land. These are called negative sleep associations. And they’re up to no good. Whatever you’re doing, it needs to stop.
The first step in making the change is teaching your baby how to fall asleep on her own.
To teach her how to self-soothe:
- Follow a consistent bedtime routine that will let your baby know that it’s time to sleep.
- If you’re feeding your child before sleep, move the bedtime feeding session to a slightly earlier part of the bedtime routine.
- Give her a soft toy or blanket to which she’s created an attachment.
In case your little one already knows how to put herself to sleep, ignore this first step and continue with the next step.
Push the morning nap forward
Let’s say that your little one takes her morning nap at 9:30 am.
The day you want to start the transition, push that morning nap to 10:00 am.
After two days, push it forward for 30 minutes and get your baby to nap at 10:30 am.
After two days, make it at 11:00 am.
And so forth, push it forward by 30 minutes every two days until you hit your goal of 12:00 pm or 12:30 pm, whatever works best for you.
Generally, it takes about a week to a week and a half to get there.
Even if she shows signs of overtiredness, keep pushing. In the beginning, your child’s naps may be shorter as it can take some time until she gets used to her new sleep cycle. Keep in mind that it may take up to four to six weeks for your baby to get fully adjusted to the one nap schedule.
If, let’s say, she takes a short nap from 11:00 am until 11:30 am, and she gets tired again at around 3:00 pm and falls asleep in the car, let her.
The good news is that as you get to your goal of 12:00 pm or 12:30 pm, she’ll start to lengthen her nap. Before you know it, she’ll be taking one long nap of one and a half or two hours.
Time it right
The ideal timing for your baby’s midday nap is between 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm. In some cases, if your baby is in childcare or if she has a later waketime, 1:00 pm is also good timing.
However, make sure 1:00 pm is the latest your baby goes down to sleep. Why? If you let her stay awake for long hours, she’ll get overtired, and you’ll be working against her natural rhythms.
Work out what time works best for your family or your school and stick to it. If, for example, the school does a Monday to Friday nap at 12:30 pm, then your little one should take her nap at 12:30 pm during the weekend as well.
Have a naptime routine
If you already had a naptime routine in place, stick to it. A naptime routine should be a shorter version of the bedtime routine where you change your baby’s diaper, sing a song, or read a book.
Another thing you can do is get your baby into more comfortable clothing, like pajamas. You want to get more comfortable when taking a nap, so why shouldn’t you do the same for your little one?
So go ahead and put her in PJs, and if she still sleeps in a sleep sack, you can keep doing that too.
Get her down at an earlier bedtime
If your goal was typically 7:00 pm for bedtime, you might want to consider an earlier bedtime to avoid your baby getting too overtired.
For example, if she has her nap from 12:30 pm to 1:00 pm and goes down at 7:00 pm, that’s six full hours of being awake.
A 6:00-6:30 pm bedtime is common during nap transitions. It can help restore lost daytime sleep until the midday nap gets a bit longer.
If an earlier bedtime is not possible, letting your baby have a quick power nap is fine. The goal is to avoid having a chronically overtired child. This catnap should be short, lasting for around 15 minutes or up to half an hour. Just make sure you don’t overdo it, or you’ll have a baby that’s laughing at you at bedtime.
To sum up, here’s how an ideal wake and sleep schedule should look like:
- Wake up
- Awake for 5 hours
- Down for the midday nap between 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm (1.5 to 2.5 hours)
- Awake for 5, 5.5 hours
- Bedtime (11 to 12 hours)