Dr. Sarah Mitchell
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When to Switch from Two Naps to One Nap? Helping Babies Sleep

It can be hard to know when your baby is ready to switch from two naps down to one nap.  In this post we’ll lay out the most common signs of nap drop readiness and how to execute it effortlessly. 

Why transition to one nap? 

In general you transition to one nap to consolidate the nap time into one big nap.  This helps keep a reasonable bedtime that isn’t too late.

How do you know when a baby is ready for one nap?

  • Your baby is no longer ready to nap for the morning nap.  You put her down and either she fights it, never falls asleep or takes a 30 minute micro nap. 
  • Your baby goes down fine for the 1st nap but you can’t seem to get her to sleep for the 2nd nap.
  • She’s napping fine but you find you have to wake her up from naps as your bedtime is getting later and later, passing 8 pm.  Your naps are stealing sleep from your night time. 
  • Average age to make the transition is 15 months.  By 18 months most kids are on 1 nap. 

What age do most babies transition to 1 nap?

Most toddlers make the shift around 14 to 15 months of age.  However I’ve seen kids as early as 13 months and as late as 18 months.  

How do you transition to 1 nap? 

You drop the morning nap and the afternoon nap shifts earlier to accommodate the change.  You use a 5 to 6.5 awake window in the morning from waking up for the day.  At the beginning of the shift to one nap use a 5 hour awake time before nap.  However, don’t have a nap before  11:30 am.  As your LO gets older, say by age 2, use the 6 to 6.5 hour window.

For example, she woke up at 6:30 am, nap time will be 5 hours later around 11:30 am with lunch beforehand.  Ideally you get a 3 hour nap when you nail the timing and have great sleep habits. 
If she wakes up before 6 am, that 5 hour window would be 11 am. That becomes an awkward time for a nap because even if she sleeps for 3 hours, that’s a 2 pm wake up and that can then be 5 hours before a 7 pm bedtime which can actually be too long of an awake time after nap.

Signs Your Child Can Adjust to One Nap 

She can stay awake 5 hours before nap.  She might be a little tired but she shouldn’t be falling asleep at the table.  Then she needs to be able to stay awake ~4 hours from nap end until bedtime.  

Signs 1 Nap Is Working For You:

  • She continues to sleep through the night
  • She wakes up happy sometime after 6 am for the day 
  • She wakes up happy after a long 2+ hour nap 

Signs 1 Nap is NOT Working For You:

  • Waking up happy sometime after 6 am 
  • She starts waking up at 5 am and it’s not teething related 
  • She starts waking up in the night
  • She’s getting less than 1.5 hours of nap in and waking up crying 

In Summary

Nap transitions are never absolute, meaning that you make the transition in one day. You may go down to 1 nap for a few days and then get hit with a 5 am wake up.  With an early wake up like that you would go back to 2 naps to help her recoup some lost night time sleep.   Overall it should take 1-2 weeks to be consistently on 1 nap. You lose the morning nap and your afternoon nap becomes earlier to adapt to the change. 

Having trouble getting your baby to fall asleep without lots of help from you?  Take my sleep quiz to figure out why.  In 6 simple questions you’ll get a personalized response from me on what’s going well and what you need to work on. 

Baby Sleep Quiz for parents


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