When Do Babies Drop To One Nap
When Do Babies Drop To One Nap?
Babies’ sleep patterns and schedules change frequently within their first 12 months of life. Once babies are 6 months and older, their naps typically consolidate and get longer. Very quickly your baby will go from taking 3 or 4 naps a day to a 1 nap schedule. Daytime sleep will start to consolidate (yay – goodbye to the days of short naps!). Wondering when this will happen and how you can support your baby during this process? Read on!
When Do Babies Drop To One Nap?
Most babies are ready to drop to one nap between 13-18 months but every baby is ready on their own timeline. There are several factors that go into when it’s time to drop to one nap. Some of those include how long it is taking them to fall asleep for both naps and nights, the developmental milestones that they are working on and how their overnight sleep is going.
The signs to look out for when it’s time to drop a nap are if they are taking a long time to fall asleep for either their morning nap or afternoon nap or they are falling asleep right away but they are taking a short nap. If your baby tends to stay awake during their nap and not falling asleep or skip a nap, this is also another common sign that it’s time to drop a nap.
Signs Baby Is Ready For One Nap
Sudden erratic schedule
Usually when a child is about to drop a nap, you’ll start to see their normally consistent schedule begin to go haywire. You may see bedtime struggles, middle of the night wakings, or sudden early wakeups that appear seemingly out of nowhere. Some people may call this a sleep regression but this is a completely normal part of childhood development. ⠀⠀
Your baby may begin to take shorter naps. This may lead you to believe you should ADD a nap when really a nap should likely be dropped. I would continue to offer your baby two naps a day until it’s been 2-3 weeks of consistent, short naps.
If your baby was consistently sleeping through the night and has sudden night wakings then it may be time to cut your baby’s daytime sleep and consolidate to one nap.
If your baby wakes up well before 6am and wakes up crying, fussy and doesn’t seem well rested, this is another sign that something is off with their schedule.
How To Transition Baby To One Nap
Ok, but HOW do I drop to one nap?! Nap transitions can be overwhelming but I promise it will be okay! Take a deep breath and realize that it may be kind of funky for a little bit.
At the beginning of the nap transition, you’re going to want to stretch your baby’s morning awake time so that the nap is starting as close to 11am as possible. Ideally you will want to keep your baby home or close to home to avoid them falling asleep before 11am. I would try to avoid a car ride or stroller because they will likely fall asleep due to the motion.
A 90 minute nap is a restorative nap on a 1 nap schedule, as your baby works on consolidating sleep, this nap may be up to 2-2.5 hours long. I recommend capping the nap at 2.5 hours to preserve nighttime sleep. During the nap transition, you can certainly offer 2 naps on days where the 1 nap was short, it is fine to toggle between 2 and 1 nap during the transition. If they skip the 2nd nap, be sure to put your child to bed early to salvage their sleep!
Before naptime, try to get them engaged and stimulated with active play!
Go outside, vitamin D and fresh air can help build sleep pressure. Prior to nap, do a shortened naptime routine. This can be 10-15 minutes where you bring your child into their room, put them in their sleepsack, turn on white noise, read a short book, sing a song and put them down for their nap. At the beginning of the transition, it may take time for them to consolidate the nap. This is NORMAL! Leave your baby in the crib for 90 minutes from the time they fell asleep. This will help signal to them that this is their naptime and with time and consistency, the nap will lengthen. Once they have consolidated the nap, you can slowly push the nap start time closer to 12pm. Do this slowly, 5-10 minutes later each day.
During the nap transition, I would aim for your child to be ASLEEP 4-4.5 hours after waking from their nap. This bedtime will likely be earlier than when they were on 2 naps, again – this is normal! Do not stretch bedtime, this will get them overtired and bedtime and overnight sleep will suffer. Once their nap lengthens and you’re able to push their nap time to midday, bedtime will naturally become later. The 2-1 nap transition can take up to a month to happen so be patient, give it time and consistency and it will happen! Need more help making this transition? Checkout my 2-1 nap transition guide on my website and be sure to follow me on Instagram where I post lots of FREE tips and guidance.