Sometime around 14-18 months, your toddler will be ready to drop down from 2-1 nap which we call as 2-1 nap transition.
Assuming your child is getting 11-12 hours of overnight sleep, the signs of nap drop readiness include:
1. Not sleeping for the morning nap and either fighting the nap or just playing in the crib.
2. Taking increasingly shorter morning naps such as 30 minutes.
3. Being in the 14-18 month age range with one of the above. When a toddler is 14-18 months, they can comfortably be awake between 5 and 6.5 hours before getting fussy from fatigue. So when you eliminate the morning nap, you will bump the afternoon nap up earlier so that the child is not exhausted by a 1 pm nap time.
Being overtired by the time they get down for a nap can often lead to difficulty settling for a nap, or result in a short nap.
For example, if your child is 15 months and getting up at 6:30 am, he may start to show signs of fatigue such as becoming hyperactive, rubbing his eyes, or being fussy, in 5 hours, at 11:30 am, if he has dropped the morning nap. This may sound very early for an afternoon nap but the beauty of the 2-1 nap transitions is when they go down to one nap, you get a MONSTER nap!!
Very often a good sleeper will sleep for 3 hours when the transition first occurs. Thus an 11:30 am nap time can mean getting up at 2:30 pm from the nap. This won’t be forever, and slowly you can move the 11:30 back towards 12:00 and then 12:30 and then 1:00 pm as the days pass and they become more habituated to the longer awake time in the morning.
At this age, your toddler needs between 1.5 – 3 hours of nap time per day and 11-12 hours of total night time sleep. We often think of nap transitions as black and white. Meaning that one day they are on 2 naps, and the next day they are ready to handle 1 nap.
This is not usually the case as nap transitions can take up to a couple of weeks to achieve one consistent daily nap.
This transition period can be a challenge at daycare where they often have strict 1 pm put down times to accommodate a variety of ages in their care. During the initial nap transition days, you can ask your provider if you child could go down at 12:30 instead of 1 pm, and then get up a little later than the group just to squeeze in that extra nap time during that first week of being on one nap.
Daycare will often wake all the kids up at say 3 pm, so they can have a snack, and playtime before parents start arriving for pick up, and activities always take place in a group. Maybe your child could sleep until 3:30 pm? Then you could squeeze a 3 hour nap into that 2 hour nap time.
Another factor that can make the 2-1 nap transition challenging is that it can coincide with the 18 month sleep regression.
You can read that post here: Why the 18 month sleep regression is the worst.
If you can’t get little extra nap time at daycare, then you can compensate by putting your toddler to bed a little bit earlier at night.
An earlier bedtime cuts into your time with your child at the end of the day, but it makes for a better rested and thus happier toddler.
The most important thing to remember is that sleep begets sleep. The more well rested your child, the easier it will be for that child to fall asleep and to stay asleep. It is a journey and its never perfect but we all do the best we can and they will survive!
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