Walking, talking, and…dropping a nap? The 2 to 1 nap transition typically happens between 12 and 15 months, but before dropping your child’s second nap, it’s important to see signs of readiness for at least 1-2 weeks. It’s easy to mistake sudden sleep disruptions at this age as signs of being ready to drop to one nap, but it could be a sleep regression or a sign we need to reevaluate wake windows, so we first want to check those boxes before changing their nap schedule.
Signs of readiness for the 2 to 1 nap transition
- either or both naps are short
- regularly refuses second nap
- bedtime refusal
- taking longer to fall asleep for bedtime
- frequent night wakings
- early morning wake ups
Remember, we want to see at least 2-3 if not all of these signs for a consistent 1-2 weeks.
How to transition to 1 nap
When transitioning to one nap, start by pushing their morning nap later. You can do this by adding an additional 15-20 minutes to their first wake window every few days. By doing this, their second nap will shift later and and begin to shorten. It’s normal if they don’t jump right into this schedule easily! If their first nap is too early or under 2 hours, you can offer a shorter cat nap in the afternoon to avoid them becoming so overtired, but keep in mind they will still need about 4 hours of awake time before bedtime after this cat nap so avoid offering it later than 3 or 4pm or instead of offering a cat nap you can move bedtime between 6-6:30pm. If their first nap is at least 2-3 hours, you can skip offering the second nap, because they were able to meet their daytime sleep needs in that one nap alone and aim for bedtime to be about 4-5 hours after the end of the nap.
Helpful Tips for the 2 to 1 nap transition
- Wake windows will stretch from 3-4 hours to 4-5 hours during the nap transition between 12-15 months and 5-6 hours around 18 months. Once they have adjusted to the 1 nap schedule after 2-4 weeks, you can begin following the clock or a set schedule to schedule sleep times.
- The morning wake window is now the longest wake window of the day. This allows your child to build enough sleep pressure to nap for a long 2-3 hour stretch.
- Get outside and introduce new activities during wake times to help them stretch their wake windows!
- Use an earlier bedtime if you need to! It’s very common for toddlers to need an earlier bedtime during a nap transition until they are able to adjust to the new schedule change. You may only need to do this for a week or so.
- Move at your child’s pace. There’s no rush! If they need to adjust their morning nap later by 5-10 minutes instead of 15-20 minutes, follow their lead and adjust slower. It can take some children up to 3-4 weeks to fully adjust to 1 nap.
If your child is struggling with this nap transition or you need more sleep guidance, you can checkout our infant or toddler sleep training packages or book a 30-minute phone support call to work 1:1 with The Sleepyhead Coach. We create customized sleep plans to help guide you along the process of sleep training and you get support from a professional sleep expert to help you reach your goals and stay on track!