I’ve been working with a few families lately where their lovely toddlers are starting to show signs of moving from two naps to one. These little ones anything from 13 months onwards are starting to resist the afternoon nap but are exhausted by bedtime, which means the cortisol party comes to town! This can prove difficult when trying to implement consistent sleep patterns, and so I have written a post to help anyone else that may currently be experiencing the same thing. These tips are taken from a handout Kim West (The Sleep Lady) put together to share with tired families like you!
2 to 1 nap facts and tips
Most bubbas are ready to give up the second nap between about 15-18 months but may show signs much earlier on (usually around 13 months plus). This is a tricky back and forth type of phase, where they are definitely not ready to transition to one, but will fight it with gusto!
Whilst this phase is going on, still try for two naps, but if you only get one and its super early in the day (leaving more than 4/5 hours till bedtime), try a later afternoon buggy stroll as a top up or bring bedtime forward on that day.
To help you identify when toddlers are truly ready, they need to be –
1. Consistently getting around 10-11 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night. If not, work on improving night sleep before making the nap change.
2. Consistently taking longer and longer to fall asleep for the morning nap.
3. Consistently taking shorter morning naps or sleeping for too long in the morning and then refusing an afternoon nap.
If you see this type of pattern for maybe 10-14 days straight, you can start the process of dropping the second nap by pushing the morning nap later. It should take about 7-10 days to transition fully.
Here’s how you do it -
1. Gradually push the morning nap later over a period of a few days to around 11 in the morning. Then to 11.30 for a few days. The goal is for the afternoon nap to start between 12.30-1pm but it might take a while to get there. The trick is not to get stuck with a later morning nap, as then the wakeful window will be too long between waking and bedtime. Ideal nap length should be 2 1/4 to 2.5 hours.
2. If your toddler only sleeps for an hour and wakes up tired, try and soothe them back to sleep. If it doesn’t work have a back up plan like a buggy walk, car drive or sling swing.
3. Try not to let them sleep past 4-4.30pm so as not to throw bedtime off.
4. Try an earlier bedtime for two weeks to prevent them getting overtired.
5. Occasional two nap days are fine. Watch for the signs and allow a second nap if they seem really tired. You could limit the morning nap to 45 mins in this case.
6. If your little one goes to childcare some of the time, try to sync up the timings so as to set good pattern.
Above all, remember it will definitely pass! It just may take a little while to fall into place. In the mean time follow these tips to help you get the smoothest transition possible.
If you would like more support, give me a call. I offer a no obligation free consultation to discuss your needs and how I can help. You can reach me at Helen@familysleepcoach.co.uk or on 07973 128133.