My child is now 13 months old and lots of people are telling me should be on one nap during the day, he doesn’t seem ready to me, when do you think he would be?
Typically young children are ready to transition from two naps to one around 15-18 months. It is very important not to rush this transition as if your child is not biologically capable of being on one big sleep, you may start to experience, frequent night waking as a result. I often hear that parents are advised to do one nap from 1 year of age; however, rarely do I see a child ready for this transition until closer 15/16 months. Allow this stage to emerge naturally; I would want to see a number of factors that would indicate they are ready as follows:
a. Your child may begin to take longer and longer to fall asleep for their morning nap
b. Your child may begin to not take the morning sleep
c. Or your child may sleep in the morning and as a result be unable to sleep for nap 2 in the afternoon
I encourage parents to try and see a pattern emerge before assuming that it is time. It is not unusual for toddlers to go on “nap strikes” for several days, but then go back to sleeping as normal. Trust your own instincts and then plan the move.
It can be a tricky dance during this time and the nap that is dropped is the morning one, leaving your child with one big sleep, ideally commencing from 12 onwards and be about 2-2.5 hours in duration.
As your child acclimatizes to the change, the single nap may need to start earlier initially somewhere around 11-11.30am and then you can work on moving it more towards the centre of the day. Gradually moving the nap time by 5 minutes every day until you get closer to 12.30-1pm is a good solution. Be patient, it can takes a good few weeks for the body to adjust; you may find that some days the nap has happened very early in the day and as a result you may need to bring bedtime earlier temporarily, to avoid your child becoming overtired.
Very often parents end up with the one nap too early in the day and this creates a large wakeful period before bedtime, which can in turn cause resistance to sleep and frequent night time awakenings. Don’t put too much emphasis on the wakeful period from waking in the morning and try to maintain not more than 4-5 hours between the end of the nap and being in bed asleep. This way you can ensure that timing issues will not have a negative impact on your child’s sleeping patterns
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Lucy Wolfe, CGSC, MAPSC, is a paediatric sleep consultant and mum of four young children. She runs a private sleep consulting practice with her 98% effective formula for sleep; she provides knowledge, expertise and valuable support to families across the country. See www.sleepmatters.ie