When do babies drop to one nap?
Just like with everything related to babies and newborns, there isn’t a one size fits all answer for when or how your baby should nap but generally speaking babies should drop from two naps to one between the ages of 12 and 24 months.
The most important thing is not to force the change. When they’re ready to drop from two naps to one your baby will show a few key signs.
But don’t expect it to happen overnight, as when you’re transitioning to one nap you’re creating a whole new routine for you and bub so it will take a bit of adjusting to their new schedule.
Why do babies drop a nap as they get older?
As any new parent knows, getting your baby to fall asleep soundly is no easy feat, so the idea of cutting one of those blissful periods out of your day may sound crazy, but it is more important than you think.
In the early stages of life babies fall into REM sleep (dreaming state) during their morning nap which is crucial for brain development. Brain development occurs early in life so the younger the bub the more crucial the morning nap, as they grow and get older the need for a morning nap lessens.
Signs your baby is ready for one sleep a day
- Your baby is older than 12 months old.
- Your baby doesn’t fall asleep during morning car rides anymore.
- Your baby takes longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep if you put them down in the morning.
- If your baby naps during the day, they take longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep at night or don't seem tired in the evening.
- Your baby naps well in the afternoon.
- Your child is waking very early in the morning.
Signs your baby still needs two sleeps a day
- Your baby is under 12 months of age
- Your baby still falls asleep in morning car rides
- Your baby is grumpy if they don’t get a morning nap
How to transition to one nap?
It can help to think of this period as changing your child's daily schedule or routine, rather than dropping a nap.
And remember, on some days over the next few months, your child might still need two naps and on other days he'll be totally happy with just one. Going to just one nap a day might take months so patience is the key (not easy when you have a tired toddler around...).
There are a number of different options.
Choose a new nap time.
1. Pick a time for your child's nap that’s later than the usual morning nap, but not as late as the afternoon nap, and try to stick to that if you can. For the first few days, make sure your child is busy and active during the morning but doesn't doze off in the car.
2. If your child does nap like this, move their bedtime forward by 30-60 minutes, so they don't get too 'strung out' or over-tired before bed.
3. This might take a few weeks to get right and you'll need plenty of patience!
Let your child sleep when he wants to sleep.
1. Watch for your child’s sleepy signs, like rubbing eyes, yawning, pulling on their ears and and put them down for a nap when they seem tired.
2. This might mean they still have two naps a day, but might not sleep long during either. In that case, they can keep the two naps, but don’t expect that your child sleeps at both times – allow quiet resting instead.
3. After a while, move the morning nap a little later but use the second nap time as 'quiet time' instead. Maybe you can read a book together or your child can have some books in his bed to look at alone.
4. Once your child gets used to this quiet time, ensure that you move the morning nap later but still give them some 'down-time' in the afternoon.
If your baby is struggling with sleep altogether, try these seven baby sleeping tips.