Navigating the 2-1 Nap Transition
Is your baby's sleep routine starting to get out of whack?
Are you having trouble getting them down for an afternoon nap on time? Maybe bedtime is becoming a bit of a nightmare?
Then it could be time to consider transitioning from two day naps to one.
Typically this transition normally occurs from the age of 12 to 15 months, but most babies start to show signs of readiness between 13 and 14 months.
Let’s have a look at what you can expect before, during and after the transition.
Transitioning From Two Day Naps To One.
What Should I Expect Before the Transition?
Up until 12 months, your baby is likely to be successfully napping for two sleeps during the day. Ideally, you want the first nap to be a short and the second one to be a longer, more restorative nap.
Leading up to the time when your baby turns 12 months, it is ideal to cap the morning sleep to about 20 minutes so you have enough time to fit in a longer nap after lunch. Typically the first nap should be 20 minutes long and taken around 9:00-9:30am. The longer nap should be around 1pm in the afternoon and last up to 2 hours.
As long as your baby is up by 3pm you should be able to settle them successfully for a 7 o’clock bedtime. *5 hours awake time between 2nd nap and bedtime usually works best.
Signs Your Baby is Ready to Transition to One Day Nap
From about 13 months onwards (as a guideline as every baby is different), your baby will start to show niggles and signs that they are ready to start dropping down to one day sleep. These niggles or signs could be that your baby is waking earlier in the morning, fighting going to sleep at bedtime, or that one of the naps is particularly problematic.
If your baby is resisting going down for a nap or taking a long time to fall asleep, then there may not be enough time to fit in a second nap. You may also find by letting your baby have a short morning nap, the second nap only ends up being one sleep cycle resulting in an over tired baby and a long gap before bedtime.
It is important to note that these signs are not a one off occurrence if they are having an unsettled day. The real sign that your baby is ready to transition is if these behaviours are starting to emerge over a couple of weeks and you have experienced consistent fights or resistance in getting them to go down for naps.
How to Transition to One Day Nap
When you decide it is time to transition to one nap, the best way to do it is to push out the morning sleep and get rid of the 9:30 or 9 o’clock short nap. Ideally you want to get to 11:30 in the morning before putting your baby down for their revised naptime.
The first few days that you try it, your baby may not sleep particularly long. It may only be for an hour and a half or even an hour. If this happens, try and resettle your baby so that they get around 2 hours rest.
By having that longer awake time in the morning, you are priming your baby for a much longer sleep anyway. So, it is likely that they will have a longer, more restorative nap without you needing to resettle them too often. Over the course of about 4-6 weeks you will be able to gradually nudge the first morning nap from 11:30am to 12 noon.
When Will My Baby Only Have One Day Nap?
One of the really important things to know about the transition from two to one day naps is that unfortunately it doesn’t happen overnight. You do need to give it time. It can take anywhere between 10 and 14 days before you start to notice that nap lengthen as your baby gets used to pushing out their first morning sleep.
Also, once your baby drops down to one day sleep you will notice that their night sleep sholud become deeper and more consolidated. Having only one day sleep will hopefully help knock out any early rising or night wakings that you are experiencing.
A really important thing to keep in mind is that once your baby does go down to one day sleep, you may need to bring bedtime forward by half an hour. Before their transition, your baby will probably have been going down around 7 o’clock. As your baby is now down to one day sleep it would be absolutely fine to bring bedtime forward by half an hour to prevent over-tiredness kicking in.
This overall transition from two days sleeps to one doesn’t take too long in the greater scheme of things. You will find that it only takes a couple of weeks before your baby fully adjusts to having one day sleep.
What if My Baby is Still Waking at Night?
If your baby is over the age of 15 months and is waking in the middle of the night, it could be because they are still having 2 daytime sleeps. Or at least be a contributing factor.
Having said that, if your baby is sleeping all through the night, for 11 to 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep and they are still napping beautifully for those two naps a day then there’s no need to make adjustments. You only need to make adjustments if niggles and changes are starting to occur.
If you are having trouble making the transition from two days sleeps to one, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with me here at Serene Sleep. I have a range of support options that are perfect for helping you navigate your baby's ever changing sleep patterns.