The ABC’s of Moving Your Baby to One Nap (Without Losing Your Mind)

The ABC's of Moving Your Toddler to One Nap (Without Losing Your Mind)  http://www.incredibleinfant.com Sometime between 15 and 18 months, your child will go through a major napping adjustment.

It’s a weird time.

Some days he’s a happy bubbly little guy that just doesn’t seem tired for his  morning nap – but MY GOODNESS what a monster he becomes around dinner time!

Or there are days where it seems he’ll fall asleep anywhere.

Naps Happen

It feels like you’re gambling with your family’s happiness…and losing.

The idea of “one nap” starts to pop up in your head.

Perhaps that’s the solution to the napmare you’re all living in?

Today I’m putting my Certified Sleep Coach bowler hat on (blame Downton Abbey) to offer you some pointers and tips on the process of transitioning a child from two naps down to a single, long, afternoon nap.

Obviously, though, we have to start with a very important basic question…

How Do You Know It’s “Time”
to Switch to One Nap?

As with most sleep coaching, timing is everything.

If you try to do this transition and your baby isn’t ready, it will backfire and you’ll be left with an extremely grumpy baby, nighttime wakeups, ulcers, and broken toes (from kicking things in frustration).

Here are the four tests I encourage my clients to use in determining whether or not “it’s time”.

Test #1:  Ageism.  It Happens.

If your toddler is younger than 15 months, he is not going to be ready for one nap a day.

I’m sure there’s an exception to this rule out there somewhere, but for most of you reading this, heed this warning:  Don’t try to make this transition unless he’s passed the other three tests below!  

Pushing any sleep coaching when a child isn’t ready is like diving into a pool 10-inches deep.  Disaster.

You see, when a baby is overtired, his brain stops making the “sleepy happy” hormone melatonin, and starts secreting the “Red Bull for Babies” hormone cortisol instead.

This gives him a second-wind.  (Sound familiar?  Adults do this too!)  This means he’s going to act wired and energized, but his body and brain is really exhausted.  The result is more wakeups at night and early wakening (pre-6am).

Pushing a child to a single nap before he’s ready will mean he’s producing more and more cortisol, leading to a lot of crying and wakeups down the road.

If you’re struggling with naps and your baby isn’t ready for this one-nap transition, be encouraged.  I go over all kinds of napping strategies and tips in the Napping Know-How Webinar.  It will give you plenty of tools for your parenting toolbox.

Test #2: Sleeping All Night Consistently

If your child is not consistently getting 10-11 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night, then it’s not time to transition to one nap.  

You can try, yes, but it’s going to be a disaster.  (The cortisol thing, remember?)

Instead of trying to move to a single nap, I would concentrate on helping him get those 10-11 hours of solid sleep at night instead.

This isn’t as daunting as it sounds.  I recommend using this book if you’re going the DIY route.  Or you can register for one of my monthly sleep workshops and we can work on it together.

Test #3:  Wonky Morning Naps

Use a sleep log for 4-5 days and see if you notice a greater gap between the time you put him down for his morning nap and when he actually sleeps.

If it’s taking longer and longer for him to fall asleep for that first nap, that’s a good sign that he may be ready to stay awake longer in the morning.

Or, you may notice that the morning nap is shorter.

Or, you may notice the morning nap is longer, and then he’s refusing to take an afternoon nap.

My point here is that you’re going to need to keep a sleeping log for several days in order to spot these morning patterns.  Without seeing these things over a period of several days it will be hard to determine whether or not it’s time to transition.

Test #4: It Feels Like Groundhog Day

(If you haven’t seen Groundhog Day, you’re totally missing out on A) classic Bill Murray awesomeness and B) my joke. 😥  Get caught up to speed here.)

If your baby is older than 15 months, is sleeping through the night, and seems to be repeating the same wonky napmares every day for 10-14 days, I have a message for you.

*deep breath*

IT’S TIME.

“A” is for Adapt Slowly

Think of this process like Celebrity Rehab.

You’ll need to move slowly, to avoid a ton of *snapsnapsnap* Diva moments.

First, gradually start to push his morning nap back.

  • Day 1 -2:  11:00am nap
  • Day 3 -4:  11:30am nap
  • Day 5-6:  Noon nap
  • Day 6-8:  12:30am nap

The goal here is for the afternoon nap to start between 12:30 and 1pm and last around 2 – 2.5 hours.

He can sleep longer than 2.5 hours, but don’t let him sleep past 4 or 4:30pm, or it will mess up bedtime.

“B” is for Be Flexible

You will want to have a casual approach to the daily schedule, using your Little One’s cues and signals to help you.

Try to move bedtime up earlier (maybe closer to 7pm?) while you’re making this transition, to prevent making him overtired.

You also should be open to having an occasional “two-nap” day.

If it’s clear that he’s not going to make it until 12:30 one day, go ahead and put him down for a Quiet Time or nap at around 11.  Just limit any morning nap to 45 minutes, max.

“C” is for Call for Help
(If You Need It)

If your toddler goes down for a nap just fine at 12:30, but wakes after only an hour, you’re going to need to go back in and try to soothe him back to sleep.  (He won’t be able to make it to bedtime without hitting the overtired-cortisol wall.)

I go over how to coach him through longer naps in the Napping Know-How Webinar.  The “Sleep Averages Cheat Sheet” given away as a bonus for attending that webinar will help you make sure he’s reach his “sleep totals” for the day, helping to prevent nighttime wakeups.

Napping Know-How Webinar testimonial

The webinar is only $20 and gives you almost 2 hours of tips, tricks, and practical instruction on how to help your little one improve his daytime naps.  Click here to see the upcoming class schedule. 

Is Your Baby in Daycare?

There are two common questions that pop up usually around this point from parents with children in daycare.

What if daycare insists he takes one nap and he’s not ready?

This is a common issue.  The first thing I would suggest is to talk to your provider about possibly moving your baby to a younger age group until he’s ready to move to a single daytime nap.

If that’s not an option, than I would perhaps try to slip in another nap for him at the end of the day, perhaps around 3:30 or 4pm for about 45 minutes.  Then put him to bed for good around 8pm.  This may totally backfire!  You’ll have to test it and see what happens.

Worst case, you can always concentrate on giving him two naps on the weekends, to try to catch up from the week.

What if my child is only in daycare part of the week?

I would try to synchronize the afternoon nap at home with the time they usually put him down at daycare.  (Assuming it’s between 12 and 1pm.)

This way his internal clock will stay in sync.

How is Your Switch to One Nap Going?

Have you tried these ABC’s?

How are they working for you?

Or, if your child has already gone through the two-to-one nap transition, what suggestions would you give parents who are stuck in the midst of it?

The ABC's of Moving Your Toddler to One Nap (Without Losing Your Mind)  http://www.incredibleinfant.com


Meet Heather Taylor

Heather Taylor

Heather is the Chief Encouragement Officer here at Incredible Infant and has been writing and encouraging parents online since 2007.  She's certified in baby sleep coaching (yes, that's a real thing), has served as an Expert Parenting Panelist for numerous events, and has been a featured writer on blogs like DaveRamsey.com, SimpleKids.net, My Kid's Adventures, Cafe Mom, and others.  If it's 2am and you're desperate to read SOMETHING, click here for all her darkest secrets, including why she really shouldn't be allowed to blog.  


 

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Comments

  1. Ha… I have one of those that messed up his nap schedule and went to an one-nap a day early. He has been a horrible napper from day one! But a great sleeper at night! Trying to give him 2 naps a day just didn’t work. Around 9-10 months he started to mess it up so much. He had a 20-30 min “nap” in the morning and then a 5 minute “nap” in the afternoon. He was a total mess every day! But he still slept well at night (like 11.5-12 hours). Discussing this with the day care provider, I suggested to get him to sleep just once. Trying for around noon, see what he would do. Well… he started with a 45-50 min nap. Much better already… and he kept that up! Slowly increasing it to a longer nap, while keeping his 11.5-12 hours at night going. He is 16 months now and sleeps 1.5-2 hours at day care. In the weekend, we actually get him to sleep for 2.5 – 3 hours! And still have a 12 hour night! 🙂

    Our daughter (4 years now) was totally a different story. With her you could put her down on the clock!

    I know our son is an exception, but wanted to share the experience.

    Monique

  2. Christina says:

    Hi heather! I have 13 month old twins. Both sleep about 10-11 hours straight at night (with occasional bad night). I had a really good routine of naps at 9:30 and 1:30. They fell asleep instantly and slept for 1.5 hrs. For past month, baby B has struggled to fall asleep for first nap so I separate him and he won’t fall asleep until close to 10:30/11. At first it was 1-2 times a week, but he has refused second nap for past 7 days so he is miserable by bed. His brother is consistently taking 2 naps with occasional fluke. theyve only been sleeping through the night consistently for 2 weeks. Before that we’d have a wake up around 4am (9hrs). It seems as soon as he started sleeping through the night that baby B won’t take 2 naps. What should I do? I’ve been laying him down at the same time as his brother (9:30 and 1:30) and just hoping it’s a fluke?! He used to fall asleep quickly but now he struggles.

    • Danielle Miller says:

      Twins can be tricky! It really is possible that Twin B is ready for one nap even if Twin A isn’t. Every child needs different amounts of sleep.

      I recommend that you keep a sleep log for a few days and track what is going on with Twin B. If he is taking longer each morning to fall asleep it might be worth taking the plunge! The hard thing about doing this at different times for each of them will be that Twin B may need to go to bed sooner at night then too. Another idea we have for kiddos that run out of steam around dinner time but aren’t willing to take two naps is a baby carrier. You will find details in this article.

      If things don’t straighten out with nap time I recommend you consider Heather’s Napping Webinar. It really is so helpful and economical.

  3. Christina says:

    It won’t let me reply to your response, but thank you for the info 🙂

  4. At about 13 months bed time turned into a battle, taking 60min on average for her to fall asleep when she usually was down in about 10 or less… I didn’t think this could possibly be time for switching to one nap but nothing else we did made any difference. She was taking both naps without any problems and making sure the second nap didn’t go later than 3pm didn’t help either. After about a month of this bed-time drama I asked a mom group on facebook and several moms suggested she was ready for one nap so we tried it… She was SO ready. Everything got better at that point. She was back to going down easily and getting a full night’s sleep with no early wake ups. It’s great to have guidelines – that’s the best place to start, I just wish I’d had the confidence to consider switching sooner – would have saved myself some theatrics 😉

    • Danielle Miller says:

      Thanks for sharing this, Claire. Maybe some other mom will read this now and they will get to miss some theatrics (though we all know that’s what children do best!) 😉

      • Jamie Shatwell says:

        hi. I have a 13 months old son who is going to daycare. He went for the first time when he became 12 months. They switch to 1 nap from 2 naps. He wasn’t ready for it. I tried to keep two naps (930/10 (1.5-2 hours) and 230/3 (1 hour)) at home so he can catch up his sleeps. It was successful and it wasn’t successful because 2nd nap it takes 15 minutes or longer for him to fall asleep.  So I changed his nap to 12pm. he sleeps 2-3 hours. He goes to bed at 7pm but he is tired before that. He wakes up one time over night (he tends to sleep all night with no wake up). I read your online that if hes overtired that it will cause him to wake up over night or/and wake up before 6. I don’t know what to do. Should I let him go bed at earlier but will that cause him confuse and will that cause him to wake up earlier before 6am? HELP!

      • Danielle Miller says:

        Jamie,

        Have to tried moving his bedtime up? I would start with putting him down at 6:45 instead of 7. Even just 15 minutes could help!

  5. I have a 15 month old daughter whom we switched to 1 nap around 14 months because her wake times were so long that it was not possible to get 2 naps..now her nap is good but she is taking too long like 1 hr to go down at bedtime…any inputs and only sleeping 10 hrs. I am so clueless.

    • Danielle Miller says:

      Jaspreet,

      I recommend trying to start the whole bedtime process earlier. So if you are putting her down at 8:00 in the evening try 7:30 instead. Sometimes bedtime can be a struggle because you’ve missed the sweet spot. If she gets too tired she will fight sleep (so counterintuitive!).

  6. So she wakes at 6am
    Naps from 11:30-1:30.
    We have tried bedtime at 7,7:30 but she falls asleep around 8:15.
    What time do you suggest bedtime? ?

    • I would perhaps try to move it back by 15 minutes, and see how she goes. So, shooting for 8:00? Some babies have a natural sleep window later than others, so try that and see what happens. All you can do is try something for a few days and see what happens. She may never be a 7pm bedtime baby, but I would see if you could move it up in short bursts, rather than a big jump from 8:15 to 7. Hope that can help!

  7. Thank you for the post. Is the second nap dropped all together and you push up bedtime as you are gradually starting to push his morning nap back? Or does that stay at the same time until you bring the early nap to the afternoon?

     

    • Mel, good question. The idea is that you bring the morning nap up, so they get closer together. So the morning nap eventually schmushes into the afternoon one. 🙂

  8. My 14 month old used to take 2 naps. One at 9.30 and one at 12.30. The morning nap is now no longer than 15min. No matter when he takes it he wakes up grumpy. And now the evening nap has suffered and gone from over a hour to 45min. He has also gone from sleeping 6pm-7am to waking at night.

    How many days of fussiness and crying do you think it will take to get his body clock used to one nap?

    • Danielle Miller says:

      Neva,

      Oh, this can be a painful time for your little one (and for you!). It might take a couple of weeks but hang in there. Have you tried keeping him up later so you can combine the two? If this doesn’t work, I recommend you give this book a look over. The Sleep Lady covers sleep all the way up to age 5 so she will be a long term help to you!

  9. Hi! My son is almost 13 months and we just started to do a one nap schedule with the occasional day bring 2 naps (fist nap at 9:30 for a half hour then second would be 12:30) he is constantly waking up at night 2-3 times. He has been coughing lately but even before, he was still waking at night. He started daycare a month and a half ago. I would really like his 1 nap schedule to work. I am breastfeeding him at night when he wakes up but sometimes he doesn’t even care for it he just wants me to hold him. What should I do?

  10. My son is 1 week shy of being 16 months. His in home day care has been pushing for one nap a day for a couple of months now. He slept wonderful at home on the 2 days during the week that either my husband or myself stay home with him, and also on the weekends. But apparently he only slept about half the time he normally sleeps here at his day care. For example, he wakes around 6:30, napped from 9:15ish-10:30ish, 2nd nap from 1:30-3, sometimes 3:30/4 at home. But he was only napping about half that at daycare. Then about a month ago, he started taking a long time to fall asleep for the morning nap, and would just play in his crib, and would only sleep for about30- 45 min. This went on for about 2 weeks, so I said it was fine to move him to 1 nap. Well that is when everything went to hell in a hand basket. Unfortunately, the timing could not have been worse, because a few days later he got terribly sick, which he is just now getting over, and he is getting in 5 molars right now!!! Now when i or the daycare put him down for a nap, he absolutely screams his head off, and will NOT nap. He has absolutely no issues with nighttime sleep, but he is utterly exhausted, and falls asleep anytime we are in the car, or occasionally when I put a cartoon on. He absolutely refuses to be put down for a nap, and I do not know what to do. He has now refused to nap for almost 1 week. But about 3 of those days he ended up falling asleep on the couch before lunch for an hour, and two other times in the car.

    • Danielle Miller says:

      Natalie,

      Oh boy! NOT fun! I’m sorry about the timing of everything for your little guy, too much transition at once, huh?
      I think you probably need to get those molars in and then address the nap time again. He will, of course, need to nap, but work on trying to give him quiet times in his crib even if he won’t sleep. If he screams make sure you give him a way to comfort those hurting gums. Try this article for some good suggestions! If you are trying to avoid infant acetaminophen you might be interested in this article.
      Regarding the sleep at daycare. Is there a way to make his nap times more like home? Do you use a noisemaker at home? If so, then could they use one at daycare as well? It might be worth it for you to offer to purchase one for the daycare if they don’t already use one (the other parents will thank you too!). I hope those teeth come in fast! He’s getting it all over at once though, that is good!

  11. Thanks for the great article Danielle. I need your advice for my 1 year old’s naps. She’s never been a great napper-would sleep 30 minutes a time and only sometimes an hour midday. At 10 months she started resisting her 3:30ish nap and her morning nap (9/9:30)was now occasionally only 25 mins instead of 30. We dropped the 3:30 nap and extended her awake time to 2 1/2 hours but the stretch between her midday nap (around 1:00) to bedtime at 5:30 or 6 resulted in lots of crying at bedtime. Also at 10 months she started screaming before each nap where before she was happy and playing.

    Now she’s a year old and the last 2 weeks have been occasions of refusing the first morning nap, screaming really bad when I put her down, resulting in me picking her up and trying later (12ish) when she passes out from exhaustion. She would then sleep an hour but by 4:00 is tired again. I usually don’t let her sleep because that would mean a really late bedtime so get her down by 5:40 or 6. But between 4 and 5:30 she is very very miserable. This morning she woke at 8 (and normally wakes at 6:30) so I didn’t even try putting her down early and when I tried at 12 she went crazy! I’m not sure if she should be going down to 1 nap or how to structure her naps? She yawns sometimes 2 hours after waking in the morning (like this morning) but sometimes on those days even when she has been yawning and I put her down she won’t sleep, other days she does. I’m just really confused as to whether she is or isn’t tired, which is why she’s crying in her crib. When she’s really really tired she will lie straight down and go to sleep in a few minutes. Oh, I also want to mention she will not sleep in the car or stroller, only in her crib. Thank you for any advice, I’m so confused!

    • Danielle Miller says:

      Melanie,

      Sometimes you just wish your little one could talk and explain what’s going on, don’t you?! I know I do. 🙂
      I am glad the article was helpful (though I can’t take credit for it 🙂 ). I am wondering if your little one is sleeping well through the night. She probably isn’t quite ready for 1 nap but the first one will probably be a short one. That’s not a bad thing, it just keeps her from getting to that “too tired to sleep” place. I recommend starting by keeping a sleep log. This will help you discover if there are any natural rhythms. After that I recommend trying to put her down even before you see that first yawn (sometimes the yawn comes too late to get your baby to bed in the sweet spot). If you are missing her sweet spot, easy to do, that can make her fight the first nap and everything that comes after harder too. Take a look at this article for an idea of what her schedule might be.
      If putting her down sooner in the morning doesn’t work then I recommend you consider taking Heather’s Napping Webinar. There are so many great tips that will come in handy and can help you navigate this time of transition to come.

  12. Thank you Danielle! Actually she was waking once a night for a quick feed (around 3 or 4) but going back to sleep immediately, although the past few days has been sleeping through but unfortunately now waking around 5:20am 🙀 She actually sleeps longest for the morning nap, which I have been putting her down for at 10:30 although as she has been waking around 5am the past few days I think 10:30 might be a bit late as she had a meltdown yesterday and refused sleep all day. Hopefully today will be a better day, I want to try keep a consistent time in the morning and one in the afternoon so her body can adjust. I do agree that I wish they could talk haha!! It’s like a guessing game so often. Will check out the webinar too. Thanks for taking the time to reply ☺️

  13. Hi, my daughter is 17 months and we are just transitioning to 1 nap. She used to take 10am and 3pm naps for about an hour each and would fight the afternoon one so we decided to switch.

    She wakes up around 7:30am now and is asleep by noon but her 1 nap is only an hour or at best, 1.5 hours. Any suggestions on lengthening her 1 nap?

    She is asleep between 7:30 and 8pm for the night.

    Thanks!

    • Danielle Miller says:

      Ji,

      I would try putting her down a little earlier (say, 11:30). Try moving her nap up by 30 minutes and then again the next day (to 11:00) if the 11:30 time doesn’t work. She just might need to get her sleep earlier in the day.

      • I have the same issue and she is asleep at 11 or at 11:30 and wakes us exactly 1 hour after she falls asleep.  So i tried the 1 nap ideas for over 3 weeks and she is extremely exhausted only getting the 1 hr nap.  Today i went back to two.  one at 11 and the 2nd at 3:30.  both she has woken up after the 1 hour and is completely rested.  She will go to bed at 7 and fall asleep at 7:30 and wake up at 7.   She has had this 1 hour sleep for several several months.  She just will not sleep longer.  These last 3 weeks have been difficult because she doesn’t eat well when she is tired so we have a tired hungry baby. great combo …Ha…any suggestions

      • If she’s doing better with two naps, then just stick with that for several weeks. She just may not be ready, and that’s okay. Just make sure you’re catching her sleepy signs so she doesn’t get overtired.

  14. Hi! I’m not sure if you’re going to see this comment but I just found this page. I’m looking for some advice. Baby just turned 1 and it’s like all hell broke loose. He was refusing afternoon nap or he will take a really long morning nap so daycare did 1 nap with him. It was fine for a week. Now he’s throwing tantrums when it’s sleeping time (naps and bedtime) and waking up at 430am instead of 6am… I don’t think he’s ready for 1 nap but I dunno how to work with 2 naps anymore. Miss my little good sleeper!!

    • Danielle Miller says:

      Lynda,

      I think you are on the right track with the fact that he’s not getting enough sleep. Sounds like a huge dose of cortisol going on in his little brain (Think Red Bull for babies.). I recommend slipping in some extra naps. You can try a short nap when he gets home from daycare as long as that still leaves a two hour wake window before bedtime. Maybe try doing the extra naps every other day. It sounds like that might work since he went a whole week before crashing! If there isn’t time for a second nap on weekdays then try adding them in on the weekends. You can also try moving his bedtime up to an earlier time to add in some of that sleep he’s missing. Try moving bedtime up 20-30 minutes each day until the early waking stops. This is one of the counterintuitive things to know about sleep for your little one, the sleeper they are the harder it is for them to get a good night’s sleep (that’s the cortisol!).
      Also, if this helps, keep in mind that most 12-18 month old babies need 13.5 hours of sleep.

  15. Hi everyone!

    I would love some advice! I have an 18 month old who we just transitioned to one nap. He was happily taking two naps a day until about 17 months old, then started fighting the afternoon nap or skipping it altogether. We unfortunately had to make the transition to one nap a little more abruptly than we would have liked due to our nanny situation and her hours- but now he wakes at 730 and takes his nap at 1230. He’s doing fine in the morning making to nap time. And he can sleep a long time for his nap- we usually wake him up after  three hours. However, bedtime is a battle- takes about 45 minutes to get him down (around 730pm). And since we switched to the one nap- he is waking at night for sometimes up to three hours at a time (2-5am.) To be honest, before the transition he would still sometimes wake at night but it may be for 20 minutes tops. This waking lately is intense- it lasts forever, he’s so tired but won’t sleep and is very fiesty about it! We’ve tried playing with the length of the afternoon nap- 1.5 hours, 2 hours, 3 hours and every night we have the same three hour wakeup period. Any advice?

    • Danielle Miller says:

      Aimee,

      This will sound counterintuitive but have you tried letting him sleep until he wakes on his own from the afternoon nap? He might need more sleep, not less. That’s the counterintuitive part about sleep and babies (or toddlers in this case). If he doesn’t get enough sleep then he will be over tired and not sleep as well when he does sleep. Try having him nap it out and see what happens.

  16. Lia Mills says:

    I know this article is older but I stumbled across it in my search for help 🙂  I have a 14.5 month old who has been fighting his afternoon nap for the last month or so, with the exception of a sick week in the middle of that where he napped great.  His morning nap has stretched to 2 hours (used to be 1 hour 15 min) but he refuses to nap in the afternoon.  He’ll just play in his crib for 1 to 1.5 hours or he’ll fall asleep for little bits of time and then play again.  I’ve been trying to put him down earlier for bed but his nighttime sleep has gotten much worse.  I think he’s getting overtired from refusing his afternoon nap.  He used to wake once a night for a 20 min nurse between 2am and 5am but now he’s waking around 10pm to 11pm and sometimes 2am.  AND he’s waking 30 min to an hour earlier in the morning.

    I’ve tried to hang on to two naps because he’s on the young side and he’s not sleeping through the night yet.  I don’t know if he’s taking a long morning nap because he’s so tired from not sleeping much overnight or if he’s ready for only 1 nap.  Days that I’ve put him down for only 1 nap in the afternoon (busy mornings with older sister or church), he will only nap for 1 to 1.5 hours in the afternoon and cry when he wakes, telling me he’s still tired.  When I try to get him back to sleep he will have none of it.

    Is it time to transition to 1 nap, even if his overnight sleep is a wreck right now?

    • Lia,

      Sleep begets sleep, so it’s probably true that his nighttime sleep is being thrown off by the daytime sleep (and vice versa). I usually recommend starting with the nighttime sleep first and then moving towards naps – mostly because it’s the easiest. Start by working through the shuffle (my favorite of the methods) – here’s a walk through. Concentrate on that first, and then when that has improved you can work on nap coaching.

      For the nighttime weaning, decide how many times you want him to be up at night to eat (and your doctor has approved) and then cut down on the other feedings by 2 minutes (if he’s breastfed) or 2 oz if he’s bottle fed, then once you’re at 2 minutes/2 oz, drop it entirely and use the shuffle to help him get used to going to sleep.

      Do that for a week, and then if you’re still having napping trouble, I would recommend registering for my Napping Know-How webinar, it goes through EVERYthing. Hope these things can help, Lia!

  17. So glad I found this and nice to hear other people’s experiences. My little one is 17 months next week – a lot of the time shes taking a long to time to go to sleep for her 2 naps (down at 9.30 am and 2pm), the naps can be very short – around half an hour a lot of the time. I wake her by 10.30 am if she isn’t awake to try and get the 2pm in but it’s hit and miss and then on occasion she hasn’t napped at all in the morning we have gone for a 12pm nap where she will do around an hour. She’s usually wakes between 6-6.30am and is down for the night between 6-6.30pm depending on the day. So everyday is different and even though I provide her with a very consistent routine she just seems to do what she wants. Shall I give her a go on one nap? She is prone to what are either overtired wakeups/night terrors in the night where she screams out half asleep but only for a few mins and settles herself back down and occasionally we’ll get pre 6am morning wakes but really I don’t think she can get much more tired on one nap when she’s only having two 1/2 hours. Any tips would be amazing! !

  18. Hello, very happy I found this article! My 12.5 mo son has never been a good napper always needing help to fall asleep, and since 10 months everyone has been telling me to try one nap. I knew he needed two though, once asleep he would stay down for 1.5-2 hours! Well, daylight savings happened, and that day he fought hard for his first nap, and completely refused the second. He then had an early (6:30pm) bedtime and slept until 7am (usually 6:15-6:30am). Then next day he completely refused his first nap, and slept 1.5 hours for the second. So today we are trying to go to one, cold turkey which I guess may not be right. He woke around 7am, and I put him down at 11:30. He was a little more fussy/clingy, but not miserable, and fell asleep quickly on his own, like he does at night. I plan on trying to soothe him if he wakes up early, as well as an early bedtime if needed. I didn’t plan or want to transition until closer to 15 months, but based on the article he seems to be meeting all the criteria. Thanks!

    • Danielle Miller says:

      Jenna,

      I hope this was a case of getting the right information at just the right time. 🙂
      My 3rd and 4th born children have both been early “1 nappers”. It varies so much from child to child and, as you have already discovered, you can’t fight it! It’s better to work with their natural rhythms, right?!

      • Hello Danielle,

        Things went well at first, and are now getting worse, but not horrible. He is almost 14 mo now and we have had days where he sleeps 2+ hours, but recently most naps have only been 1.5.  I feel stuck, and frustrated that I really don’t know what to do.  His mornings have also been getting earlier. So early morning, combined with short nap means we are barely making it to a 6pm bedtime, which then keeps the early morning cycle going. Two days recently he has had morning catnaps in the car (which is new!) and then a “later” (12:30/1pm) nap that I hoped would get him more on a 7p-7a schedule. But he just seems so tired, like he is behind on sleep, but I don’t know how to get him caught up.

        Today he woke up before 6am, I got him out at 6:30 and by 9:30 he was exhausted. So I did put him down and he fell asleep. Would I wake him up at 45 minutes to prep for a second nap? Or do I just let him sleep because he needs it? But then if its long and he fights taking a second one, then what?

        (I know this won’t be answered today, but just wanted to give an example of what my struggles are)  Thank you!!

      • Jenna,

        Firstly, you did the right thing putting him down again by 9:30. The amount of sleep during the day is more important than the number of naps. So doing whatever you can do to get him closer to the total number of 2.5 hours (the average for his age) of daytime sleep is perfect. If that means more frequent naps, that’s okay. I wouldn’t wake him unless he’s pushing past 3 hours. His early waking is probably linked to the fact he’s too tired when he goes to bed at night because his naps are wonky. So just focus on getting to that magic 2.5 hour number during the day and see if that helps. There could be a lot more going on here, but I can’t tell because comments aren’t conversations. 🙂

        We do have a new program starting in May called “Super Sleeper” that will be giving parents sleeping tips for different ages, and also open the door to one-on-one coaching with certified Gentle Sleep Coach Amy Potts, if you feel you’d like someone to walk through the process with you. If that interests you, just go here to get on the notification list. Then I’ll email you when the program is launched. Hopefully this can help!

  19. My 17 month old has been in this transition for about 2 months now, way too long. He doesn’t fight the morning nap, but the afternoon. He wakes anytime from 5:30 am to 6:30. If he wakes up on the earlier side, he is exhausted by 9am, and we have no hope of pushing his morning nap (he falls asleep in his high chair). If he wakes up between 6/ 6:30, some days he is going down at noon, others around 11. Typically his bedtime is 7:30, but we adjust earlier on days he didn’t have an afternoon nap. I feel like we are all over the place and there is no consistency. Should I force one nap despite when he wakes up?? Thanks!!

    • Danielle Miller says:

      Marisa,

      I would give it a try and see what happens! 🙂 If a more consistent schedule will help your sanity, then it’s worth a try.
      My little one transitioned into one nap and she goes down at 10 or 10:30! I think it has everything to do with their sleep patterns. I have wondered if she is not a morning person and just can’t deal with mornings. 🙂 Maybe your little guy will surprise you and be able to handle the day with a nap at 10:00 too.

  20. Genevieve says:

    Our son is 12.5 months, and for a good while he was sleeping and napping really well – falling asleep quickly, and sleeping well at night. But for the past 3 weeks he’s been fighting his afternoon nap like crazy and refusing it altogether every few days. When he does fall asleep in the afternoon, he ends up sleeping only 35-40 mins and waking up grumpy. The days he skips the nap he’s cheerful pretty much all the way through, though I can tell it’s too long before bed (because he ends up with only a morning nap). The past couple days I’ve managed to get him to take an afternoon nap by waking him from his morning nap after 45 mins, but he clearly hasn’t slept enough then, and ends up with less than 1.5 hrs of total nap sleep for the day. He’s also started having some night wakings (crying for 15-60 mins every night for the past week, when usually he either sleeps through or nurses once and puts himself right back to sleep.) Oh, and he’s been walking for a couple of months, so it’s not from that – though he is starting to talk more, which could be disturbing his sleep a bit. Even though he’s young, I’m thinking it might be time to attempt the transition. Do you think I’m reading the signs right?

    • Danielle Miller says:

      Genevieve,

      I think you are right on track! It’s probably time to try for the one-nap transition. He’s a bit on the young side but it sounds like he’s making the choice for you!

  21. Shelly says:

    Danielle-

    My daughter is not quite 12 months, (she turns 1 on the 15th). She is usually a great sleeper; goes to bed at 7pm and I wake her around 7-730am because we have to get her brother off to school. She goes down for nap at 930 or so and will sleep about 1.5 hours. Her afternoon nap starts at 130 and goes until 230ish. I have to get her up at 245 to go pick her brother up from school. Lately she has been taking long morning naps and I have to wake her so she can fit in her afternoon naps. I wake her around 11 if she is still asleep. The last week she has been fighting her afternoon nap and will lay back there for a good 30-45 minutes before falling asleep. I then have to wake her to go get her brother even if she has only been asleep for 30 minutes. She has been cranky and whiny these last few weeks. I just don’t know what to do I don’t think she’s quite ready for 1 nap but due to my schedule how do I make 2 naps work? Do I try for 1? Please help!!

    • Danielle Miller says:

      Shelly,

      It’s not unusual to see little ones go through a sleep transition (which looks like sleep resistance!) during this time. I would give it a full week before trying any major changes. If she’s still resisting the two naps then I think you could try for one long nap. It sounds like that might actually be better for everyone since you need to pick up brother at 2:45. It can be a bit confusing for a time but keep noticing her cues (like the extra long morning naps) and you two will figure it out!

  22. Sarah Jones says:

    Hi Danielle,Just wanted to say what a great article. The most helpful I have read so far about whether to transition to one nap or not. My 18 month old toddler has currently just started day care full time and it has totally thrown a spanner in the works as she does not nap well there. At home she was still doing the two naps as she still has a high sleep need. A 45 min cat nap at 10am in the morning and then about 1.5 hours about 2-3.30pm. Most nights she would sleep through 6.30am-6.30pm, with the occasional periods of early waking’s. Since she started day-care a month ago, I have been lucky to get two 45 min naps from her, sometimes a little and sometimes a little longer. I have been working closely with the carers to try and extend her sleep times with no luck. This week we decided to change to one nap to see if she will extend the time, however she has only been sleeping for half hour each day. So that means we have one very over tired baby who has also been rising at 5am because of it. My question to you is – should we stick to the two naps as two short naps is better than one? Or should we just persevere with the one nap, in the hope she will finally extend it to 2+ hours? Or is this just wishful thinking? I am struggling to be patient as I feel all my hard work of getting her into a great napping routine at home is now being undone now she is at day-care!!

    • Danielle Miller says:

      Sarah,

      This is tricky, I know. I would go with your gut on this one. She might not be ready to transition to one nap since it sounds like she is still working through the transition of day-care. I would give her time to get used to her new normal and fit the sleep in where you can (and it sounds like that might mean an early wake up call for you!). After another month or so you can try the one nap transition. I think you will know when she’s feeling more at home at the daycare and is ready for the change.

  23. Carolina Benitez says:

    Hello Ladies, thank you all for your very useful comments, my baby boy Xavier is 14 months and had wonderful naps until a week ago. He started refusing his afternoon nap. I still give him a quiet time, and he just rolls around and does not sleep. The problem with my little one is that he wakes really early between 5- 5:30 am most days, so by 9 or 9:30 am he needs a nap. He is having a nap that can go from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours, but because he needs this nap so early and is refusing the afternoon nap he becomes really overtired by 7pm his usual bed time. At day care, they seemed to have pushed his morning nap to about 10:30am but he does not sleep any longer that 1 1/2 hour, by the time I put him to bed at around 7 he is overtired. I feel a little sorry for him that he is so tired and I wish he will sleep his afternoon nap. I feel the have mess up his sleep at day care pushing his morning nap at a later time.

    I would really appreciate any advise you have.

    regards

    Carolina

     

     

  24. Hi! I have an almost one-year-old who passes all of the tests except for being old enough to move to a single nap a day. She has slowly been moving her morning nap back by 30 minutes every week…started at about 9:00 a few months ago, and last week wasn’t taking it until 11:15 (waking at 12:15), which would push her afternoon nap from 4:00-5:00. Too close to bedtime, and she wouldn’t go down for the night until after 8:00 when she is usually asleep by 7:00. But she would still get up at the normal time in the morning (6:30ish), making her overtired the next day.

    I’d love to transition her to one nap to put an end to this cycle, but I’m afraid that if I keep pushing her morning nap back, she will continue to only nap for an hour. Today I tried it, and she fell asleep at 12:45 but was up again at 2:00, and struggling all afternoon. Is it too early for her to be on the one-nap system? Or what can I do to get her to take a single nap for long enough to sustain her until bedtime?

    • Danielle Miller says:

      Brooke,

      If you feel like she is trying to move herself to one nap (sounds like that might be the case) then maybe you have a precocious little one on your hands. 🙂 I would go ahead and go for it since she is leading the way. Just be careful that you get her down for that nap sooner then you might have guessed. If you make her wait too long she won’t be able to sleep well because her brain starts to produce cortisol (think Red Bull for babies) when she is over tired. I would continue her move forward and give 11:30 a try and then noon. If you can’t quite find the sweet spot then keep her to two naps (as best you can) for another month or two. Hope this helps!

  25. Charlie says:

    This chain is so helpful – thanks everyone for the useful comments! My son just turned 14 months and I’ve been trying to transition him to 1 nap. He was taking two hour long naps every day but his afternoon nap became impossible so I figured it was time to make the change. He was also sttn waking around 630 – going to bed around 730. The problem now is that trying to stretch things out in the morning is a disaster and he will only nap for 30-45mins if I push it. He’s waking early (515 today) so he’s ready for a nap by 9 but then refuses anything in the afternoon and is going to bed early (last night by 530) and then we are in a vicious cycle of an overtired baby, early mornings and little to no naps. What do I do!?

    • Jenny Andrus says:

      Early wakening is actually a sign that he’s going to bed too tired at the end of the day, which makes sense because his naps are all wonky. My guess is that he’s in the Twilight zone of not being ready for a single nap quite yet every day. Perhaps try going every other day? One day of giving him 2 naps a day, the next day trying to move him back? Sounds like he just may not be ready for the single nap transition. If he’s getting up at 5:15, try starting your nap routine at 8:30, so he’s sleeping by 9. Heather’s Napping Know How Webinar can help you learn how to extend those 30-45 minute naps. It’s hard work but it really does pay off in the long wrong. Hopefully those things can help you!

      Thank you and good luck!

      Jenny

  26. Great article.
    My 13 month old daughter just started sleeping until about 5am when she gets nurses and then back to sleep until 7/7:30.
    A couple of weeks ago we tried to shift her to 1 nap which caused more wake ups at night (again). So we went back to the 2 naps: 10am/2:30pm. Now about 3 weeks later she is taking much longer to fall asleep for her morning nap and just runs around her crib and doesn’t fall asleep…. So I took her out and put her to nap at 12:30pm. She seems okay with it….. But I’m worried she’ll start waking at night again since she’s not sleeping completely through the night.

    • Pauly,

      I think she’s a bit too young to start moving to a single nap. Especially if she’s not sleeping completely through the night yet. Amy and I would love to work with you on those nighttime wakeups and the napping, even the early waking. We’ve never had an unsatisfied client and I’ve been doing this for two years now. 🙂 All our clients find success, and I’m sure you could too. Click here to see how we can walk you through all these struggles.

  27. Hi Heather! I’m so glad I came across your article! SUCH great information, thank you! My daughter just turned 13 months old and her schedule has gone to crap! The last few weeks have been early wake ups, short naps, and taking longer to fall asleep (20 minutes instead of 5-10). She’s always crying when I put down for her 2nd nap as well. She used to nap at least an hr/1.25 at each of her two naps. Now I’m lucky if I get 50 minutes. It usually 35-45. She sleeps through the night, and used to do 11.5 hrs straight, but it’s now less than 11. On Sunday she refused her 2nd nap and screamed for 30 minutes until I went in and got her. We did early bed time that day. I’m wondering if I should switch to 1 nap this early? She does get tired before her first nap, especially when she has such an early wake up, like this morning at 5:15. I had to stretch her to 9:15am for first nap so we could make it through the day! Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated! Thank you so much!

    • Jen, I would go back to two naps for a little longer.

      There might be more going on here, though, than just a nap issue. Early waking can be a tough cookie to crack! Personally, Amy and I would love to help you get down to the grit of what’s going on and get it fixed.

      ALL of our clients have been able to fix their sleeping problems with our help, and I’ve had quite a few cases even more challenging than yours in the past two years! It’s a track record we’re really proud of. It’s an investment, sure, but it always pays off. Click here to learn more about what we can do for you.

  28. Hi Heather –

    I just came across your article and had a quick question –

    My son is 16 (almost 17) months old, and is still taking two naps.  But he has always been what we affectionately call a “consistently inconsistent napper”.  Some days the morning nap is two hours with a short afternoon nap.  Other days, each nap is an hour to an hour and a half.  Some days he fights one or the other nap.  And his naps have been inconsistent since birth.  He also wakes before 6am every day (I can literally count on one hand the number of times in his life that he has woken after 6am).  This is also how he has been since birth.  It doesn’t matter what time he goes to bed (usually it’s 7-7:30ish), whether early, or with a bedtime pushed back – he’s up by 5:30/5:45.  We’ve been VERY consistent with his schedule since day one, but he has always been on the “minimum” end of the amount of recommended sleep.  We think he has FOMO (fear of missing out).  🙂

    Anyways, I’m trying to transition him to one nap (because I’ll never be able to tell if he’s “ready” – his naps are too inconsistent), but even moving his morning nap back by 15 minutes has him waking up after 30 minutes!  (I’m usually able to get him back down). Also, I have NO idea how I’m going to ultimately stretch him to a 12:00 or 12:30 nap time when he wakes SO early.

    Any thoughts/advice/recommendations?

    Thanks so much!

    • Jackie, I’m so sorry that my reply is so tardy! I totally missed this in my queue. 🙁 Hopefully I can still be helpful! Early waking is usually connected to the baby being too tired when he’s put to bed the previous night. (I know that seems strange, but it’s totally legit.) This makes total sense, considering his napping struggles during the day.

      I would recommend attending the Napping Know-How Webinar here, at the very least. That will get you started with a few basic techniques to implement and try. If you do that and things have still not improved, Amy and I would love to work with you one-on-one to figure out the big picture and select other advanced methods to get him sleeping later in the morning and napping better during the day. You can see our consultation packages here.

      It’s good that you’ve been consistent! That’s absolutely one of the most important things! You just need to tweak your techniques. 🙂

  29. Shannon says:

    Hi there,
    I have a just turned 1 year old who was great at napping/sleeping. We have been following a routine since she was about 10 weeks and pretty much followed it until now. She was very routine based and if I strayed I heard about it.

    The last two weeks we have been all over the place. Her morning sleeps have gradually gotten later and she goes down now at 10am. Usually she falls asleep within 10-15mins. Some days she sleeps for an hour but up until recently she did 10-12pm. 2 weeks ago she did this but for her afternoon nap(usually about 3 if she slept til 12) she started taking ages to fall asleep,up to an hour but she did fall asleep. This week she has fought the afternoon nap every day. Her morning sleep is ranging now from 45mins-two hours which means some days she’s so tired by bed time(always 7pm) I don’t know what to do; whether to move her to one nap(try and keep her up longer in the morning) or others have suggested shortening her 1st nap to 45mins but I’m worried if I do this she still won’t do the afternoon nap. She has slept through the night since 10 weeks but now she’s waking,not enough to call me but more then she used which I know is probably because she’s exhausted.

    Any advice would be great.

  30. Hi Shannon!

    My name is Amy and I am a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach who works alongside Heather. Thank you for your very good question. I do think that your daughter is a little young to transition to one nap a day. We generally see that transition closer to 15 – 18 months old. Shortening her first nap is the best plan for you right now. Try to limit that morning nap to 1 hour (that’s a very good fit for a 12 month old). There ARE exceptions to that shorter morning nap, of course. For instance, if she’s been under the weather or unusually active that early morning she may need to have a slightly longer nap. That’s perfectly fine as long as it doesn’t become a habit. After a one hour morning nap, try to get her afternoon nap started about three hours after the morning nap ends. You may need to watch how long she sleeps for that afternoon nap as well. A 12 month old,  generally  speaking, needs about three hours of daytime sleep each day. Again…generally speaking. 🙂 Your little one may require just a bit less. Be careful though, because if she doesn’t get enough sleep during the day it will affect her night time sleep. She will actually begin to wake more at night if she hasn’t slept enough that day. Remember, sleep begets sleep,  when it comes to our babies! Hope this is very helpful and please let us know how we can help in the future! 

    Take good care, Amy

     

  31. Valerie Fieber says:

    So my 12 month old goes to daycare.  They only give him one nap and it is usually only one hour.  I have tried to give him another nap around 3:30 but it has not been working lately.  He fights it and it’s just too difficult to get him to nap.  Plus he wakes up cranky each time.  These past few days he has been waking up at 5:30.  His bedtime is 7.  Do you suggest I start the bedtime sooner?

  32. I have a 17 month old who used to go down quickly for naps, and nap about 30 minutes in the morning (an hour if I’m lucky), an hour+ in the afternoon. The past week he has started fighting the morning nap – this morning he took an hour and fifteen minutes to fall asleep, and then only took a 25 minute nap! He wakes up grumpy after most of his naps. He goes down right away for the afternoon nap though. He wakes up around 5:30-7 and goes to bed at 7:30-8, waking up once in the night to breastfeed. I did start weaning him  – it’s day 6 of no breastmilk at naptime. He seems tired, rubbing his eyes (after only 2-3 hours of being up in the morning) so I’ve been putting him down for a morning nap but the way he’s been fighting it, I’m wondering if he’s ready to go down to one nap. Also, sometimes he wakes up at 4:30-5:30 and only goes back to bed if I breastfeed him… how do I get him to sleep the extra hour or so? Thanks!

  33. Thank you for this website. I can’t tell you how often I’ve visited throughout my baby’s first year! She is now 15 months. She has never been a great sleeper, but I can’t seem to figure out her nap situation right now. I’ve been keeping a log continuously since she’s been born, especially now due to food allergies.

    So right before she turned 15 months, she took a 3 hour nap for a couple of days, so those days she only took one nap and would go to bed 6:30/7 and wake 6am.

    She has flipped back and forth since then, most days being 1 nap. Problem is, she wants this nap to start at 10am, waking anywhere between 12:15-1pm, resulting in one nap and bedtime by 6:30/7pm, or if waking at 11:30am, resulting in 2 naps, bedtime 7:30/8pm. I never let second nap go past 5pm.

    I’ve tried to make consistent bedtimes, but it changes depending on naps, and her wakeup times varies from 5:30-6:30 am, most days 6am. She sleeps 10/11 hours at night.

    I’ve tried to push her nap start time later, thinking she’s ready for one nap, but she’s often yawning at 9am, after waking at 6:30am. But I don’t put her to nap until 10am, and let her wake time determine if it is a 1 or 2 nap day. She falls asleep on her own since 8/9 months.

    Just looking for some guidance in terms of naps and bedtimes. With her nap at 10, I often feel like her lunch and dinner is squeezed in a shorter time frame so I can get her to bath and bed not too late from her wake time.

    • Hi Ella!
           GREAT question. Your daughter is right at the most common age of going down to one nap a day permanently. She is trying to tell you that she’s ready for that by sometimes being able to skip her morning nap and make it happily through the day with just one afternoon nap.  During this transition from two to one nap a day, babies will OFTEN go back and forth for awhile. This is very normal so don’t let it confuse you. You are doing a GREAT job and it sounds like her bedtime is still close to consistent. This will even out as her transition to one nap a day completes. In the mean time, to help your meal schedule and aid in keeping a consistent bedtime, make sure that you wake her from morning naps that are too long, then watch for her sleep cues after lunch time to see when she is ready to go back down.
      Hope this is really helpful! Take good care and good job!! Amy

  34. Hi Heather!

    My almost 17 month old twins are ready for one nap as they don’t seem very tired for the 10 morning nap anymore. The problem is when I have tried to push it back and they go down say around 12/1230 they nap only for 45 min- 1.5 hours. How can I get this one nap to be longer? Consistency with the schedule? Thanks so much!

  35. Hi there,

    My son has just turned 15 months and has always been a great sleeper. 7pm-7am and two naps a day.

    He’s started waking at 4am or 5am and just laying in his cot rolling around and chattering, not crying. He takes a while to fall asleep at night and for his nap. And he’s getting quite tired in the day and most days he’s not going for his second nap.

    There’s a lot of changes in his life at the moment and we’re not sure what is the main issue:

    1) He’s just started at nursery (3 days a week) and cried at drop off for the first 2 weeks, but doesn’t anymore.
    2) He’s of the age where moving to one nap could be a possibility, however he’s often pretty tired by 11 because of the early wake ups.
    3) He’s also got his canine teeth coming through. The top two are through and the bottom two are nearly through.
    4) He’s just started walking.

    Is he waking early because he’s overtired? If so, we need to get this one nap working despite the early waking?
    Or is it separation anxiety, it seems weird if it is because he’s not crying when he wakes, but the timing with going to nursery is quite a coincidence.

    Any ideas or help would be great as we’re getting pretty tired now and have no clue what to do.

    – Richard

  36. Amanda Tison says:

    My 17 month old is ready to transition to one nap. She took two naps perfectly until about 3 weeks ago. She has started fighting her afternoon nap and bedtime almost daily. So I’ve tried transitioning to one (slowly adjusting) however she then treats bedtime like a nap. She will go down early (like 6pm even!) and she’s super tired, and she will sleep for 1.5 hours and then wake up and stay up for another 4-5 hours!!! And not go back to bed until after midnight and then wake up at 5am!!! Normally she wakes up at 6am but she’s been waking up earlier too. So on these days I give her 2 naps. She fights the afternoon one but ends up taking it because she’s up so early. But what should I do about the – treating the early bedtime like a nap – issue while transitioning her to one nap?? Thanks!!!

    • Amanda,

      This is a really difficult transition period for most babies. My advice is to do exactly what you’re doing – go to an every-other-day format until she gets a little older. You could also slip in a very short catnap some days, at perhaps 4:00. Just for 45 minutes to an hour. This can help her avoid going to bed to exhausted (and then perhaps waking up too early as a result). If you’d like more help with these napping issues, try having a Sleep Session with Amy. It’s a one-hour brainstorming planning session with Certified Gentle Sleep Coach Amy Potts. You talk through everything, create a plan together, and then you can implement the plan later in the week. Click here to learn about these Sessions.

  37. My little guy just turned one. He is an awesome sleeper! Two naps have seem to be our sweet spot. Waking up at 7am, first nap at 10 and second nap around 230/3, and bedtime by 8pm. He seems to be refusing his second nap like crazy. He will just lay in his crib but will still be awake by 4 and then I feel like that’s too late for him to fall asleep. So we go get him but then he be going to bed around 6 or 630 and wakes up early.

    I am slowly trying to get him to push his morning nap later. For the last couple days it’s been 11-1230 But his then starts to act tired by 3:15 and have tried to offer second nap but again lays on crib and fights it and will be going to bed by 630.

    Are we on track for transitioning to 1 nap? Is it ok to push morning nap? It seems if he goes to be early he wakes up early and then we are back to trying for 2. I am lost with this one!

    • Hmmm… This is a tough one, Amanda. Are you making the nursery as dark and boring as possible? It’s hard to give really good napping advice in a comment because there are just so many variables I don’t see. I’d want to know what you’re doing to help him fall asleep, how long that’s taking, what happens when he wakes up, what you do when he’s not going to sleep, what HE’S doing when he doesn’t want to sleep, etc. etc. All questions best answered as we talk back and forth – letting me really get to know his unique personality and your parenting style.

      Amy and I would love to help you extend that 2nd nap for him a little while longer – I really do think he’s a tad too young to switch to only one nap a day every day. That can really make him too tired at bedtime – causing earlier waking, etc. etc. – exactly everything you mentioned. Not sure if you could swing it, but my Certified Gentle Sleep Coach partner Amy would love to talk with you on the phone for an hour or so and help you create a napping plan that everyone can do well with. She would discuss with you different techniques to extend naps, and you could pick the one that you think would fit with his personality best. They are called Sleep Sessions. We’d love to get to the bottom of things with you! xox

  38. Hello,

    I’m so grateful for this article! My daughter is 15 months old. She’s been showing signs of readiness for about a month (refusing more and more of her afternoon naps, and now fighting her morning nap as well) She sleeps through the night consistently as well.  I’m now giving in and starting the transition to one nap. She was previously napping at 9:30 am and at 2:30 pm, so I’ve started by putting her down around 11:30 for the past few days. She seems exhausted by then and goes to sleep quite easily, but has been awake by 1:15 each day. That is clearly not enough sleep (right??) and she has been super cranky in the afternoons and evenings.

    I’ve tried just letting her stay in her crib in hopes she will go back to sleep but it hasn’t worked. If I go in there she is so excited to see me that there is no way she will go back down. I’m not sure what to do and I’m starting to doubt myself in terms of making this transition, despite all the signs of readiness being there.

    Any tips on how to make her nap longer?

    • Marissa, looks like your baby is caught in the middle of this tough transition period. I would consider adding a shorter nap (45 min – 1 hour) late in the afternoon, perhaps around 3:30. This should help her avoid becoming overtired before bedtime. If that doesn’t work, or if you still have questions, consider setting up a personal Sleep Session and letting us talk with you on the phone to come up with a workable plan. We’ve got plenty of tools in our toolbox to discuss with you. Hope this can help!

  39. Hi,
    My baby boy is 10.5months and he is sleeping from 7pm to 6am straight. He use to nap 1.5hrs at 9am and then again at 2pm. The last week he is struggling to fall asleep, he is playing in his cot for up to 45min before he will fall asleep. I then have to wake him after an hour in order to nap later and have a long enough wake time before bed time. It is the same problem with the later nap, he is fighting both naps. Is he ready for one nap already? Thanks for the great read!

    • Mary, are you making the nursery as boring as possible? Very little light, a noisemaker to drown out interesting sounds, nothing inside the crib that could steal his attention. With many highly-alert babies, it can become necessary to limit as many stimulations as possible, so they have NO CHOICE but to fall asleep. With one family I worked with, we discovered that their son was staring at the little animals on the crib sheets and staying awake! We switched the crib sheets with a boring neutral color, and he started napping much easier. 🙂

      There’s no way that at 10.5 months he’s ready for a single nap. Chances are if this continues you may start having more night wakening, or early waking (before 6am) due to overtiredness. I would recommend setting up a Nap Coaching Plan to help him settle down for two naps faster and stay sleeping to meet his recommended daytime sleep quotas. Our Gentle Sleep Coach Amy Potts is great at helping parents decide on a method that would work best for your baby and create steps to help him learn how to fall asleep – and stay that way – faster. Click here to learn more about our Sleep Sessions.

  40. My situation is very similar to marissa’s in the previous post. Should the nap naturally lengthen as she gets used to it? My daughter hasn’t had late afternoon naps since she was a newborn so that idea wouldn’t work for us.
    Many thanks

    • Usually naps don’t lengthen on their own. (Although you could get lucky!) Usually, parents have to gently coach the baby to learn how to fall back asleep and stretch those naps. If you’re not sure how to do that, I would recommend setting up a time to talk with Gentle Sleep Coach Amy Potts in a Sleep Session. She can learn more about your specific baby and help you come up with a Nap Coaching Plan you can be consistent with. (Consistency is key when it comes to nap coaching.) Click here to learn more about Sleep Sessions.

  41. Hi there
    I have a 15 month old who for a while now takes a long time of fussing and some crying to sleep for his second nap but sleeps for an hour. First nap is good.
    I keep thinking he needs to transition to 1 nap but when I’ve tried he’s only slept for 1.5 hours and is cranky till bed time (which I’ve moved to 6:30 on those days). I have tried to get him back to sleep but no success
    Any idea on how to proceed?
    Thanks so much

    • Jenny Blake says:

      Hello Nereida,

      Sleeping infants can sometimes make or break family sanity. But good news, we have an EXCELLENT sleep coach on staff who has helped many a family navigate those choppy waters. Her name is Amy and here is her link. Make sure you scroll down to see the parent reviews. She does offer two packages: a coaching package with follow up calls, and a one time sleep session. It sounds like you would benefit more from the simple sleep session. She is wonderful at when she does. She could quickly assess what your family like looks like and how best to help your little guy get on the napping schedule he needs. 🙂

      Good luck!

  42. Hi Heather,

    I have a 17 month old who has been exhibiting several of the signs that he is ready to transition to one nap for about a month. Sometimes he refuses both morning and afternoon naps, sometimes he takes only one good nap, and sometimes he takes two short naps. The issue we are having with the transition is that  his wake up time in the morning is very unpredictable and has bee since birth. He falls asleep between 7:15-7:30pm, but he wakes up anytime between 4:30 and 6:30am (6:30 happens maybe once a week). We have experimented with earlier and later bedtimes and one and two naps, but it doesn’t seem to help with the early wakings. When he wakes up at 5am, he just can’t make it past 9:30 or 10am without falling asleep. On the days when he sleeps in a little later, we are able to push his nap back to 11ish and he takes one nap for 1:15-2:00 hours. Do you have any ideas for how we can get on a more consistent schedule? Currently, we are switching between one and two naps based on when he wakes up. Thanks!

    • Jenny Blake says:

      Hello, Sarah!

      Oh my gosh, transitioning naps is the worst! I have 5 kids, and this was one of the hardest part of parenting them in their early years. The frustrating part is that everything seemed to be going so nicely, then the baby got older and daily life became unpredictable and frustrating.
      The best thing I can suggest for you to do, would be to set up a sleep session with our sleep coach, Amy. She can help you and after she looks at your health assessment, she’d talk you through your individual schedule and help your little guy transition so that he’s getting the sleep he needs which, in turn, makes sure YOU get the sleep you need! Her information is here and she would love you help you further. She is an expert and will smooth this out for you and for him. It’s especially rough to try and figure this out over the holiday season when everything gets turned upside down anyway. Amy is really great at this, and since all infants are individuals, you really need an individual plan to help him with this transition. Thanks, Sarah.

  43. Hi! Wow, so happy to have found this site! Love the advice being given! I’m in a situation..I have a 16 month old who pretty much naps twice a day. He is up in the morning at 6-6:45, takes his first nap around 10, which lasts anywhere from 1.5-3 hours, and then he’ll be tired again in the afternoon, so I give him a second nap. I’ve been considering to send him to playgroup with the hours being from 9:15-12:15, but my son is tired in the morning by 9:30-10, rubbing his eye and yawning. Do I try to push off his morning nap to just one nap after the playgroup, or is that not fair to him? Sometimes he doesn’t take an afternoon nap, either because he had a long morning nap or he’s overtired by the late afternoon and has a hard time falling asleep. When that does happen, he is super cranky and zombie like and has a hard time. So I’m not sure what to do. I’d like to have my own time of getting out in the mornings and for him to have a chance to play with other children at playgroup, but I want it to be at the right time. I need advice here please. Thanks so much!!

    • Jenny Blake says:

      Hi Samantha!

      I love that you want to take him to a little play group! Learning to play with other children is an important skill and he’ll enjoy it. On the day of play group, I would wake him up at 6:00. Then give him breakfast and put him down again for a morning nap at 8:00. Let him sleep until 10:00. Then wake him up, have a little snack and go to playgroup. Then be there from 10:15-10:30ish until 11:30ish. You can gauge and see how he’s doing, but the first couple of weeks you go, you may want to leave before he’s overly tired. You can either eat lunch at the play group or eat lunch when you get home. Then put him down for his afternoon nap. You may find that on playgroup days, his afternoon nap is longer than his morning one because he’s so tired out. Good job being a wonderful mom, Samantha!

  44. i have a weird situation. my little guy is one and is a pretty good sleeper. 8pm-7:30am with either no wake ups or one wake up for a bottle at 5. naps are usually from 10:30-noon and 3:00-4:30.

    however, recently (in the last week) he’s started getting super cranky around 10am. it’s usually a fight to keep him awake till 10:30. then he’s been fighting the 3:00 nap, sometimes only sleeping for an hour and sometimes staying awake the whole time (laying in his crib kicking around and babbling and whining).

    what gives? i can’t get him to stay awake for a minute longer in the morning! i’m at a loss.

    • There’s a growth spurt around 12 months, Liz, so I suspect that’s what you’re dealing with here. I would go ahead and put him down a tad early if he seems tired, he may need an earlier naptime for the next week as his body adjusts. Also, you may notice he’s hungrier than he was before. Hopefully this can help!

  45. Hi!

    My 15 month old is transitioning to one nap. Previously she would nap around 10 and 3/3:30pm. But if always have to wake her by 11am to get her to go down for her 2nd nap. And even then it was usually a fight.

    She generally wakes up between 6/6:30 in the morning, so I was gradually trying to push her first nap back (10:45, 11, 11:15) she is only napping for about 1 1/2 in duration so generally I’d put her to bed early (6pm) as her normal bedtime is usually 7. The only thing is she is starting to wake up earlier and earlier in the morning and now I’m at loss of what to do! Today she woke up at 5:30am!

    Please help! We start our mommy and me preschool classes this week which are from 9:30-11:30. But now I’m worried that making them will give me a miserable and overtired baby!

    Thank you in advance for any help!
    Danielle

    • Danielle, usually when we see a baby waking earlier in the morning (before 6am) it’s linked to being too tired when she went down the night before (which seems to make sense, based on what you’re saying here). My guess is that some days she’s ready to drop that 2nd nap and some days she’s not. She’s still pretty young! I would count out 4-5 hours after she woke in the morning for her next nap and then play the rest of the day by ear. If she sleeps for an hour or less, know you’ll probably need to give her a 2nd nap. (The average daytime sleep at this age is 2 – 2.5 hours).

      I hope that can help! If you need more help with this, sign up for a Sleep Session with Gentle Sleep Coach Amy Potts. She can look deeper into your sleep log and give you some strategies that will work with your baby’s personality and your parenting preferences.

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