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How to transition your baby from two naps to one

I get many emails from mom’s asking how they’ll know if their baby is ready to go from two naps a day to one. Babies are usually ready for this change around a year of age.

I have seen babies go as early as nine months and I’ve also seen babies hang on to two naps a day until well into the 17th or 18th month. I would say the average age for transitioning from two naps to one is 13 months. Here are some clues that your little one might be ready.

Number one is that your baby will happily continue to take her morning nap. 9 times out 10, there is nothing wrong with morning nap. In fact, most moms find it gets longer than it’s ever been.

The trouble begins when you put her down for that afternoon nap, and she just won’t take it. Either she plays all the way through it or she alternates between playing and some crying or she just flat out starts to cry from out of nowhere.

Image result for baby standing in crib

Now, the tricky part about all of this is that those signs won’t show up every single day. You’ll find that you’ll have three or four times in a row where she doesn’t take her afternoon nap, you’ll start to think to yourself, “OK, it must be time to drop that nap,” and then for three days in a row, she takes both naps beautifully! That can really throw people off.

A good rule of thumb around that is if you notice this happening at least five days a week then that is a good sign that it’s probably time to make the switch. I would wait till it’s occurring for two to three weeks consistently because it could just be a developmental milestone, like standing or walking, which has been proven to affect infant’s sleep patterns. Sleep usually improves (as long as parents haven’t introduced new sleep props like rocking or feeding) after the milestone has been reached. It’s not uncommon to see your little one practicing standing in his crib at 3 AM or in the middle of his nap! The key is to not interrupt this and let him fall back asleep after he is finished.

But if you see your baby struggling with that afternoon nap consistently for two to three weeks then it is most likely time to make the switch. It is very important not to just drop the morning nap and push your baby straight into an afternoon nap at her regular time.

This will be too hard on her body clock and she will get so overtired that by the time you try for that nap, it’s going to be trouble. My advice is that you slowly start to move morning nap down. Move by thirty minutes every three days until you reach your ideal time.

I find 12:30 is the perfect time for a one nap day. She can have her lunch and go straight into her nap.

Another clue you might need to move to one nap is bedtime shenanigans. If your baby who always went to bed like a dream is taking longer and longer to settle at night, think about his naps! Maybe it’s time to make the switch.

Are you feeling unsure if your baby is ready for one nap? Reach out to me and let me help you!

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Carrie Bruno RN, IBCLC


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