Today I received this question from a mom and she's wondering, "How do I tell if my baby is ready to move to one nap a day?" With this question, the first thing to share is what age does this tends to occur. I find that a good range for the average age for this, is in between the 13th and 15th month.
I say that, but I have seen babies go as early as nine months, and I've also seen babies hang on to two naps a day, until well into the 17th or 18th month. But if you are looking for an average, 13 - 15 months is what I’d tell you. I'm going to share with you three signs to watch for.
What to Look For
What’s pretty common is that your baby will happily continue to take their morning nap. 9 times out 10, there is nothing wrong with morning nap. In fact, most people find that it gets even longer than it's ever been.
But the trouble arrives when you put them down for that afternoon nap, and they just won't take it. Either they play all the way through it or they alternate between playing and some crying or she just flat out starts to cry from out of nowhere. Those behaviors will be the three things that you'll start to see to indicate that a nap transition is on the way.
Now, what makes all of this tricky is that those signs won't show up every single day. You'll find that you'll have three or four times in a row where they don’t take their afternoon nap, and you'll find yourself thinking, "OK, it must be time to drop that nap," and then for three days in a row, they take both naps beautifully. That can really make parents scratch their heads.
Rule of Thumb for the Transition
A good rule of thumb around that is if you notice this happening, at least five days a week for at least two weeks, then that is a good sign that it's probably time to make the transition happen. Part of why I suggest waiting at least two weeks to see this behavior more consistently is because it could be related to a developmental milestone, if they’re learning a new skill, it can throw the naps off for a week or two.
If you’re at a point where four or five times a week, for at least two to three weeks of length, that you’ve been seeing those signs at naptime, then you can go ahead and make the switch. When you do this, keep this next very important tip in mind: You can't just jump from a 10 o'clock nap to, all over sudden, a one o'clock nap.
That would be really hard on their body clock and they will get so overtired that by the time you try for that nap, it's going to be nearly guaranteed a disaster. My advice is that you slowly start to move morning nap later, no more than 30 minutes every three days.
If it's 10 o'clock, you move it to 10:30 for three days, then you move it to 11:00 for three days, 11:30 and so on, until it hits about 12:30.
I find 12:30 is the perfect time for a one nap day. They can have their lunch and go straight into their nap. And parents get to enjoy a lovely break to start their afternoon!
As always, I’m here to help if you need more support and guidance. Good luck!
I am a Pediatric Sleep Consultant who works with families to help them resolve their littles' sleep issues. As a mom of two littles herself, Katie has walked in the shoes of her clients and is passionate about helping them re-discover peaceful sleeps in their own homes.