Everything changes when you establish a routine with your child. He develops. Her personality emerges. He is now speaking a few words. She is beginning to walk. There are many changes in her future. Transitioning to just one nap is the greatest challenge.
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Five Steps to Transform from 2 Naps into 1:
1. Recognize signs that your child is ready.
- Your baby is between 13-18months old AND:
- Has trouble falling asleep at bedtime or naptime
- Starts to protest or refuse to take the second nap regularly
- Problems with taking short naps
- To fit both naps in, requires a late nighttime bedtime
- Experiences early morning awakenings often
Babies younger than 12 months old should not be allowed to take more than one nap. If you notice the signs, reduce your baby’s morning nap time to resolve them.
We understand that nap times may not be in your control if your child is in daycare. That’s okay! You can trust your daycare workers to manage bedtime.
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2. Gradually, you will be able to take a nap.
One nap should last approximately half of the day. This nap is usually between 11:30am and 12:00pm. Most babies fall asleep about 5-6 hours after awakening in the morning.
If your baby has been sleeping for more than 3 hours, it may seem like a huge change to ask her to stay awake for 5-6 hours. We want to shift the first nap from earlier to later, rather than making it all at once. You can accomplish this by gradually increasing the amount of awake time between 15-30 minutes before each nap, every few days.
3. Offer a relaxing routine.
A predictable naptime routine will help your baby get a good night of sleep. It doesn’t need to be complicated. It is important to take 7-10 minutes to relax before taking a nap.
One example is to take off any uncomfortable clothing and change the diaper. Then slip into a Zen Sack(tm), open a book, turn the lights down, and place him in the crib. This sends signals to your baby’s brain that it is time for sleep!
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4. As needed, adjust bedtime.
We want that the nap lasts between 2 and 3 hours. We want to get to bed about 4-5 hours after the nap is over.
You may have trouble keeping your baby awake after a short nap (less than 90 minutes). Nap transitions are often marked by a bedtime of 6:30 to 6:30pm. This will allow your baby to get back some of her lost sleep from the day and help you restore your normal sleep schedule.
5. Be consistent.
As you shift your baby’s sleeping routine, consistency is key. This transition can take up to 2-4 weeks. Be patient and keep going.
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It can be difficult to transition to a one-nap schedule at first. It’s not an easy task, even with the right tools. Give your child lots of grace…and while you’re at that, give yourself plenty of grace.