how to transition to one nap

How to Successfully Transition Your Baby from Two Naps to One

As your baby grows, their sleep patterns change, and you will notice that they begin to require fewer naps. By around 12-18 months of age, most babies are ready to transition from two naps to one. However, it can be challenging for parents to successfully make the switch without disrupting their baby’s sleep routine. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about transitioning your baby from two naps to one and how to make it as smooth as possible.

Why transitioning to one nap is necessary

Transitioning your baby from two naps to one nap per day can seem like a daunting task for any parent. However, it’s important to remember that this is a natural part of the growth process. As such, understanding why this transition is necessary can help parents manage the stress and challenges associated with it.

One of the primary reasons for transitioning from two naps to one is to help align your child’s sleep schedule with that of other children in their age group. This consistency in sleep ensures your child gets the rest they need each night and helps manage daytime fussiness and crankiness.

Another reason why transitioning is vital is that it sets a foundation for healthy sleeping habits in the future. Children who have consistent sleep schedules tend to establish better sleeping habits later on in life, which according to research, contributes significantly to good health.

Factors to consider before transitioning

Before you start transitioning your child from two naps to one nap per day, several factors should be taken into account. These factors include:

  • Your child’s temperament: Some children take change more easily than others do.
  • Your child’s overall health and routine: Consider any underlying medical conditions or current concerns that may affect the transition process.
  • Your family’s schedule: Factors such as work schedules, traveling or time constraints at home should be taken into account to avoid leaving your child overtired or overstimulated.

Signs Your Baby is Ready for One Nap

Your baby will indicate when it’s time to transition from two naps to one. Below are some signs that can help you determine if your baby is ready.

Changes in sleep pattern and duration

One of the most tell-tale signs that your child is ready for one nap per day is changes in their sleep pattern. For example, they may be waking up earlier than usual before their scheduled morning nap and taking longer afternoon naps. This shows that their body is naturally preparing for only one nap.

Ability to stay awake for longer periods

By around fourteen months, children develop the cognitive ability to stay up longer and handle longer stretches of awake-time during the day without becoming too fussy or tired.

Increased mood swings or irritability

If you notice that your baby has started going through more mood swings than usual, such as crying fits or crankiness, it may be an indication that they are getting too much daytime sleep by having two naps a day.

Setting the Stage for a Successful Transition

Successfully transitioning your child from two naps to one requires some planning. Below are some steps parents can take to set the stage for a seamless transition:

Adjusting your baby’s daily routine

Before making any significant alterations to your child’s sleep schedule, gradually adjust their daily routine by moving morning and afternoon naps closer together. For instance, move the morning nap forward by 15-30 minutes each day while pushing back their afternoon nap by the same duration. These small changes will help your baby’s body get used to the new sleeping schedule.

Making changes gradually

Making gradual changes minimizes the shock of a sudden new routine for your baby. Over the course of a week or more, begin cutting back on the length of your child’s morning nap while lengthening afternoon nap time to maintain an overall healthy sleep duration across the whole day.

Determining the best time for one nap

The timing of your child’s nap may also be critical in successfully transitioning them from two naps to one. Optimal time frames typically fall between 11 am-1 pm, as anything before that can interfere with their morning feeding and playtime, while anything after that time could affect their evening feeding and sleep.

Preparing for the Naptime Routine

Once you have determined these factors, preparing for the new naptime routine is essential. Here are some things you can do to help your baby adjust:

Creating a calm, predictable routine

All babies crave consistency in terms of their daytime and nighttime routines. Create a predictable pre-nap ritual that signals to them that it is naptime, such as dimming lights and reading a book or singing a lullaby. Doing this also prepares their mind and body for restfulness, allowing them to fall asleep quickly.

Choosing the best sleep environment

For optimal naps, you should ensure that your baby is snoozing in an environment conducive to sleep – darkened room shades drawn – with a comfortable temperature to maximize comfortability levels through minimal disturbance.

Helping your baby settle into a new nap schedule

Transitioning from two naps to one is not only about ensuring they take one long nap but also ensuring they fall asleep and stay asleep uninterrupted, without feeling groggy awake. You can achieve this by helping your baby to feel calm and adjust to the new routine slowly.

Dealing with Resistance and Refusal

There may be bumps during the transition phase, such as resistance from your baby. Here’s how you can handle them:

Understanding common reasons babies resist one nap

Typically, a baby will resist one nap because they are used to having two naps per day and find it challenging to adjust to new routines. They may also refuse sleep if they’re overstimulated or overtired from a long morning playtime session or skipping morning nap time.

Tips for handling fussy behavior during transition

During this transition, rushing your baby into compliance could hurt their routine and make things worse; take things as slowly as you can and always seek to identify why they are irritated or behaving fussily.

Balancing Sleep Needs with Daily Life Demands

The demands of daily life shouldn’t have an impact on your child’s routine, especially regarding their sleep needs. Here’s what you can do to balance sleep and daily demands:

Adjusting your child’s feeding schedule during transition

Scheduling meals around the new nap schedule minimizes disruption to their routine and ensures that they continue to get adequate nutrition amidst the transition.

Navigating outings and events around your baby’s
sleep schedule

When our routine gets in the way of our social lives, we tend to look at leisure time more than our baby’s sleep schedule. Do not let outings and events interfere with your child’s sleep; plan activities for times when they are awake between naps so that enough time is left for regular napping periods.

Managing schedules with other children and family members

If you have older children with different schedules, plan your routine around the youngest in the family for their benefit. Encourage older children to help with tasks, which frees up time to spend with the baby as they transition to one nap.

Troubleshooting Challenges During Transition

Sometimes things can get complicated, and your baby might begin to regress during the transition phase. Here are some tips on how to deal with common issues:

Managing sleep regressions and developmental milestones

If your baby suddenly has changes in their sleep patterns that seem erratic or regressive, try not to panic; it is very typical during this stage. To manage this process, implement a few changes while still adhering to the same routine – avoid changing bedtime hours or extending awake time duration.

Coping with illness or vacation disruptions

Vacations and illnesses can disrupt routines for babies, making it challenging to transition them from two naps to one nap per day. However, similar techniques can be applied daily – like creating a regular calm environment pre-nap – for better chances of success.

Hacks, Tips, and Tricks for Making It Work

Here are some tips that parents can use for easier transitions.

Creative ways to help soothe your baby to sleep during naptime

Some creative ways of soothing babies into sleep include white noise machines or bubbly baths before bed-time.

Strategies for keeping your baby entertained and happy during awake periods

Keeping babies engaged and entertained during awake periods will rid them of excess energy when it’s time for a nap. Engage in playtime activities such as puzzles drawing toys that keep kids mentally stimulated.

When to Seek Professional Advice

It is always advisable to talk to a medical expert if there is any concern about sleeping habits. Here are some signs to watch out for:

Recognizing signs of sleep disorders or underlying health issues that may hinder transition success

If you notice signs like snoring, gasping sounds during sleep, apnea, or pauses, it may be time to speak with a pediatrician to check whether there are underlying health issues that need to be addressed before any routine changes can be made.

Consulting with pediatricians or sleep experts

If you are unsure about which approach is best for your baby based on their current state, it is recommended that you have a consultation session with a professional.


Transitioning your baby from two naps to one can be a challenging process, but with the right preparation and strategy, it’s possible. Remember to make gradual changes, provide a calm and predictable environment before sleep time, and adjust sleeping routines in line with your child’s developmental needs. Restful sleep is beneficial for baby development and mood – so take good care of your little one as they grow up!

FAQs About Transitioning to One Nap

1. When should I start transitioning my baby from two naps to one?

The transition typically occurs between 12-18 months, as your baby’s sleep needs change.

2. How do I know if my baby is ready for one nap?

  • Your baby has trouble falling asleep for their morning or afternoon nap
  • Your baby takes longer than normal to fall asleep for naps
  • Your baby wakes up early from naps and seems restless or cranky

3. How do I shift my baby’s schedule to accommodate one nap?

You can gradually shift your baby’s current nap times later in the day until they are taking one mid-day nap, around noon or 1pm. This process can take a few weeks, so be patient!

4. How long should my baby’s one nap be?

Typically, a one hour to two and a half hour nap is appropriate for a toddler who has transitioned to one nap. However, every child is different so it’s important to pay attention to their individual needs.

5. What if my baby resists the change to one nap?

  • You can try pushing the morning or afternoon nap a little later each day, allowing your child to naturally adjust.
  • You can also adjust the bedtime routine so that your child is going to bed earlier until they get used to the new schedule.

6. What if my baby still seems tired after the one nap?

  • You may need to increase the length of the nap or adjust the bedtime routine so your child can get more restful sleep.
  • You can also try decreasing the physical activity level leading up to nap time, or providing a quiet restful environment.

7. Will my baby’s eating and nursing schedule change with one nap?

It’s possible that your baby may become hungrier as they adjust to the new schedule. However, you can try offering small snacks throughout the morning and afternoon to keep them satisfied and energized until their mid-day meal.

keys takeaways

4 Keys Takeaways for Transitioning to One Nap

  1. Timing is key: The transition to one nap usually happens around 12-18 months, but every child is different. Look for signs of readiness such as longer wake times or resisting the morning nap.
  2. Gradual transition: Don’t expect your child to drop their morning nap overnight. Gradually shift the timing of the morning nap later and later until it’s gone. This can take weeks or even months.
  3. Adjust bedtime: With only one nap, your child may start getting tired earlier in the evening. Adjust their bedtime accordingly to ensure they still get enough sleep.
  4. Be flexible: Some days your child may need two naps, while other days they may only need one. Be flexible and adjust accordingly to ensure they are getting the rest they need.

Remember, every child is different and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to transitioning to one nap. Stay confident and knowledgeable throughout the process, and trust that you know what’s best for your child.

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