The day my babies were ready for the 2 to 1 nap transition was a really exciting time. I remember feeling so liberated being able to spend longer periods of time out of the house. We could go out for brunch without having to rush back for the nap. Or spend half the day at the zoo and not have to worry about whether or not they’d nap well in the stroller while we were there.
But it’s a big change for your baby dropping from 2 naps to 1. So how do you help your baby with the 2 to 1 nap transition and have it go as smoothly as possible? As a baby sleep coach, I’ve help thousands of parents navigate transitioning from 2 naps to 1. And today, I’m going to walk you though it too.
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When Is 2 to 1 Nap Transition
First of all, how do you know when is the right time to transitioning from 2 naps to 1? There’s not going to be a specific age that your baby turns when you’ll automatically know when to make the 2 to 1 nap transition. Because most babies will be ready to begin dropping from 2 naps to 1 between the ages of 11 – 18 months.
So rather then targeting a specific age, I’d like you to watch for specific signs that your baby is demonstrating when they’re going to be ready to begin transitioning from 2 naps to 1. Here’s three different things that your baby could be doing that would show they’re ready to transition from 2 naps to one.
2 to 1 Nap Transition Signs:
- Your baby is now taking longer to fall asleep for one, or both of their naps. Maybe 30 minutes or more.
- Baby is playing in their crib for a while before falling asleep at bedtime. Again, 30 minutes or longer.
- Your little one is just awake for one of their entire naps because they’re now ready to go longer stretches during the daytime hours.
If you see your baby demonstrate one of these signs just once or twice, then they’re probably having an off day. Instead, give your baby 2 weeks when they start showing one or more of these signs before transitioning from 2 naps to 1. Why?
Because your baby could going through something else and isn’t necessarily ready to transition from 2 naps to one. They could be going through a sleep regression. Or they could having a night or two of teething. Maybe they’re a little under the weather. So give it a little time before beginning the 2 to 1 nap transition.
How To Do 2 to 1 Nap Transition
Knowing when to begin dropping from 2 naps to 1 is the first step. Next, you’ll want to know exactly how to transition from 2 naps to one. I don’t recommend doing the 2 to 1 nap transition cold turkey.
Because your baby is going from 3 hours of awake time to now 5 or 6 hours of awake time. In other words, you’re almost doubling their awake windows! And that’s too much to handle overnight.
Instead, I recommend using more of a gradual approach over the period of 10 days. This will help your baby get used to being awake for longer and longer stretches as the days go on, without risking them getting too overtired. And here’s how you can do that.
2 to 1 Nap Transition Schedule
To gradually transition from 2 naps to one, you can push the nap back by 30 minutes every 3 days until you’re at your new naptime.
So let’s say that your baby wakes up around 7 a.m. everyday. Their old nap schedule would have them going down for their first nap around 10 a.m. So we’ll use 10 a.m. as our baseline on when to push that nap back. Here’s an example of that 2 to 1 nap transition schedule…
- Days 1 – 3: Nap at 10:30 a.m.
- Days 4 – 6 Nap at 11:00 a.m.
- Days 7 – 9 Nap at 11:30 a.m.
- Days 10 and Beyond – Nap at 12 p.m.
And once you’ve got that nap starting 5 hours from when your little one wakes in the morning, you’ll be on your new schedule going forward.
On days 1 – 3, there’s a good chance that your baby will still need their second nap. You can plan on that second nap being about 3 hours from when they woke up. So if they went down at 10:30 a.m. and woke up at 12:30 p.m., then nap number 2 would be around 3:30. Just cap that second nap to wake your baby about 3 hours before their normal bedtime.
But by day 4, I would say good-bye to that second nap once and for all, and just be on that one nap a day going forward.
1 Nap Schedule
What does a 1 nap a day schedule look like? It’s wonderful! Imagine having a good 5 – 6 hours of time that you can spend doing activities outside your home before your baby needs to go down for their nap or bedtime. It’s amazing!
Here’s a sample schedule of what that one nap a day looks like:
- 7:00 a.m. Wakeup
- 12:00 p.m. Go down for Nap
- 2:00 p.m. Wake up from nap
- 7:00 p.m. Begin bedtime routine
- 7:30 p.m. Bedtime
A baby on 1 nap a day generally needs between 11 – 12 hours of sleep at night, although some babies may need as little as 10 hours of nighttime sleep. And their daytime sleep needs are around 1.5 – 2 hours for that nap.
If your baby is not sleeping through the night, is getting less than 10 hours of sleep at night, or isn’t sleeping at least 1 1/2 hours for their nap, it may be time to start sleep training.
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Nap Routine When Switching from 2 Naps to 1
When you’re switching from 2 naps to 1, it’s important that each and every time you’re getting your baby to sleep for their nap at home, that you’re doing a consistent naptime routine with them. That will help them understand that it’s time to go down for their nap each time. Because remember that babies and children just thrive on consistency.
Your nap routine is going to be pretty short. You’ll just spend between 5 – 10 minutes helping your baby prepare for their nap. For their nap routine, you can start off by changing their diaper. Then dress them in their sleep sack. After that, you can read your little one a book or two. Then pick them up and say good night and place them down into the crib. That’s it. Easy peasy.
Avoiding the 2 to 1 Nap Transition Night Wakings
An area of trouble that you might run into with the 2 to 1 nap transition is night wakings. Your little one may have been sleeping through the night before switching from 2 naps to 1. But all of a sudden, they’re back to waking in the middle of the night.
The best way to avoid the 2 to 1 nap transition night wakings is going to be preventing overtiredness. Your baby is going through this big change where they’re now awake much longer stretches during the daytime hours. And overtiredness could be a side effect of that. So to help combat that overtired, you can get your baby down at bedtime up to a full hour earlier for a few weeks. I usually recommend bedtime an hour earlier for the first month when switching from 2 naps to 1. After a month, you can push bedtime back by 30 minutes for a week or two. Then by week 6 of the 2 to 1 nap transition, you can go back to your baby’s normal bedtime hour.
Support with the Transition from 2 Naps to One
If you follow the steps I’ve outlined above, dropping from 2 naps to 1 should go pretty smoothly for your baby. But if you do have any issues that arise from the 2 to 1 nap transition or any other sleep issue for that matter, don’t hesitate to reach out.
As a baby sleep coach, I work with parents all over the world to get their baby falling asleep easily at bedtime, sleeping through the night and taking awesome naps during the day. And I’d love to help your family too. You can schedule your free Sleep Evaluation with me today so that I can learn about your baby’s sleep challenges and see if my program is the right fit for your family.
Until then, sleep well!