It’s that time, to drop another nap and your little toddler is now going to be chasing you around the house on just 1 nap a day!
When will this happen, how will you know it is time and how on earth do you handle this?
Today’s blog I am going to explain it all to you and help guide you through it to make it an easy transition from your child and you!
When will this transition happen?
15-18 months is usually the age bracket many toddlers start to show signs they are ready for 1 nap a day. Some children are ready to drop it earlier and some hang on to it to the bitter end!
You may wonder if it is time to drop a nap around 12/13 months as many babies start to refuse that 1ST nap of the day and this is usually down to the 12 month sleep progression. My advice would be to stick at it for a few more weeks before dropping any naps at this early age.
How will you know it really is time?
There may be a few signs you see...
Refusing the 1st nap of the day. Your toddler may be taking a longer time to fall asleep, they may be crying or unhappy about going to bed or not falling asleep at all
Waking earlier in the morning. Your toddler may be very consistent on the time they wake every morning, like clockwork. But then boom…. They are waking earlier
Lunch nap may be shorter. Possibly not falling asleep as easily as they previously were or / waking earlier from this nap
Waking in the night where previously they slept all night long
Waking super early in the morning like 5am! This is a one sign they are having too much day time sleep. Click HERE for early rising info.
How to make this transition happen easily?
This is going to be a process and you need to take you time with it. Your child for all their life has spent the day playing around naps. And suddenly they are being reduced again! It may take up to a month for this transition to happen so know that is normal and take it slowly especially if your little one is sensitive to sleep.
The awake window you are aiming for will be 5-6 hours. Some children will only cope with 5 hours on the dot and others are full of beans and keep going for 6 hours but my advice is to start slow and steady and aim for 5 hours. Then you can extend if you feel your toddler needs a little longer awake.
Toddlers on 30 minute morning nap…
You may like to still offer your toddler a mini nap in the morning especially if they have been awake from the crack of dawn. If she is still falling asleep easily let her have just 20 minutes for a few days then reduce to 10 mins then reduce to nothing! You can take up to 10 days for this part.
Bring the lunch nap earlier to 11am once the morning nap has gone
When down to one nap it ideally needs to be right in the middle of the day. Equal awake windows either side of the nap.
Every 3-4 days push the lunch nap a little further forward by 15 minutes until you get to 12pm. If your little one continues to wake as early as 6am you may need to keep this nap at 11am for a little longer until you feel she is ready to have a longer awake window and keep bedtime at 6pm
You are aiming for 2 hours nap. Some toddlers only sleep 1.5 hours and that is fine. Of course bedtime will now be dictated by the waking tome of this nap. Don’t be afraid of a 6pm bed time!
Remember longer awake window for a child who is not ready for it will cause overtiredness and this in turn will aid the early waking’s to occur/continue
The earlier to bed will reduce the cortisol in the body and therefore your toddler will have a longer, peaceful sleep!
But My Toddler Takes a Long Morning Nap – What Do I Do?
Often is the case toddlers split their day sleep equally over 2 naps. If they are taking 1.5 hours in the morning and 1.5 hours at lunch what you will need to do is push that first nap forward, you do not cut it short. By pushing it forward we can fade out the current lunch nap.
Try pushing it forward by 15-30 minutes every 3 days.
If your child is sensitive to sleep acknowledge this and take time .
This will push out the current lunch nap which you can shorten in increments and you can go right through to bed time!
Shorten the first nap in 15/30 minute increments either by delaying the nap or waking from nap earlier and bring the lunch nap forward a little (if you have cut it shorter on the end of nap). Bedtime will be about 3-4 hours after lunch nap wake up
But What about Lunch Time?
You want to offer lunch right before nap. This will help stave off any hunger and waking during the nap wanting food! As you push lunch nap later lunch time will get later and you will see it all pans out quite nicely!
Should You Do A Naptime Routine?
Yes! Just a short version of course, 5-10 mins is absolutely fine! Clean those fingers and faces up after lunch and of you go to the bedroom. Change nappy, ensure they have on comfy clothing, no one likes to try sleep with a full tummy and a tight waist band on right..! Read a little story, into sleep bag, cuddle, kiss, lights off and sleep time!
So there we go, you are now on the track for one nap a day and that is where it shall be until your child is 2-3 years old!
Of course if your toddler is not showing any signs just yet of needing to drop a nap and all is working for you then there is no need to change anything just yet! Have this blog in your back pocket for when the time comes and you are all ready for it!
Peaceful nights to you all,
Your Paediatric Sleep Consultant