The transition from two naps to one can be difficult and making this transition will take time – be patient! To help you make this decision, below are some signs to guide you by My NewBorn.
Signs your child still needs two naps a day
Your child needs two daily naps if:
- Your baby is under one year of age. (Note: A small percentage of younger babies are ready to drop to one nap. If all other signs point to one nap, you can make the switch early.)
- Your baby sometimes talks, plays, resists, or fusses when you put him down for a nap, but s/he always ends up falling asleep and sleeping for an hour or more.
- Your baby almost always falls asleep in the car.
- Missing a nap makes your baby cranky and fussy.
- Your baby gets whiny, fussy, easily frustrated, or has tantrums three to four hours after waking up.
- Your baby often misses naps because you’re on-the-go, but when you are home s/he takes two good naps.
Your child is ready to switch from two naps to one if:
- When you put your baby down for a nap, s/he plays or fusses for at least 30 minutes before falling asleep. Then, s/he takes only a short nap.
- Your baby can go for car rides early in the day without falling asleep.
- Your baby can miss a nap and remain cheerful and energetic until his next nap, or bedtime.
How to make the transition
Instead of thinking in terms of ‘dropping a nap’ it’s better to think in terms of a schedule change. The change from two naps to one nap is rarely a one-day occurrence – most often there’ll be a transition period of a few months when your child clearly needs two naps on some days, but one nap on others. There of course will be some babies who transition to one nap very easily and others who take months for the change to happen.
You have a number of options during this time:
- Watch for your child’s sleepy signs, and put your baby down for a nap when s/he first seems tired.
- Keep two naps, but don’t expect that your baby sleeps at both times – allow quiet resting instead.
- Choose a single naptime that’s later than the usual morning nap, but not as late as the afternoon nap. Keep your baby active (and outside if possible) until about 30 minutes before the time you’ve chosen.
- On days when a nap occurs early in the day, move your child’s bedtime earlier by 30-60 minutes, to minimise the length of time between nap and bedtime.
If your baby is on two naps (approx. 9am and 12.30/1pm) it is recommended that you start to reduce their morning nap. So if your baby is sleeping 60 minutes in the morning, then start to reduce it down to 45 minutes. If your baby is only having 45 minutes, then you reduce it down to 30 minutes.
The second sleep is the most important sleep of the day, as this breaks up your baby’s day and this sleep ensures that s/ he doesn’t get overtired by the time bedtime rolls around.
When you start reducing the morning nap, you still keep the time of the lunchtime nap. For example, if your baby was sleeping 9-10am and then 1-3pm, your baby will now be sleeping 9-9.45am and then 1-3pm.
Keep on this schedule until you find that when you put your baby down for the morning nap, s/he won’t go to sleep or you have had a few days where s/he has skipped the morning nap without too much trouble.
Once you drop the morning nap, you may need to bring the lunchtime nap back so your baby now goes down for their afternoon sleep at 12 or 12.30pm.