We get many, many questions about those sleep stages where babies or toddlers experience a change in sleep patterns, nap times, and sleep environments. These are the toughest times for parents because they require us to be patient and to adapt – we are forced to abandon the routines that we’ve spent so long establishing! We have to accept that we will no longer have TWO breaks in the day, but now have to get all of our laundry, cleaning and food prep done in the span of one nap, and we have to take apart the darn crib and find a place to store it (or haul it away). Yes, we know these are trying times but hang in there. In a week or two, your “new routine” will be your “old routine!”
In this article, we will focus on the very challenging transition from two naps down to one. This is not an easy transition because it tends to take an extended period of time to recognize and then to make the shift. The most common mistake at this stage is to drop the 2nd nap too soon – Don’t make that mistake! Babies often go through developmental milestones around 12-15 months and these changes (like becoming much more mobile) often cause disruption in naps. You may notice that your baby starts to play through half of the naptime, that he seems fussy when you put him down, cries for much longer (even through the entire hour of nap), and may just seem generally cranky. This is normal and does not necessarily mean that you need to transition.
Before you drop the second nap, try the following for at least five days and see if you notice a change:
Put your baby down for nap anywhere between 15 and 20 minutes earlier than usual
Try an earlier bedtime (by about 30 minutes)
When you are certain that your baby no longer needs his second nap, you can start to slowly push the morning nap later, which means that you will keep your baby up for longer in the morning aiming eventually for one nap closer to 12pm. We recommend you do this in 15 minute increments – this may take up to 2 weeks. During this transition you will need to watch closely for your baby’s “sleepy signs” and make sure you’re not letting her get too overtired. You will need to put her down to sleep for the night earlier (as early at 5:30pm).
This process is challenging, as always, we are here to help. Feel free to visit our services page to learn how we assist clients. We’d be happy to work with you and your family on this transition.
Next issue: The transition from crib to bed!