I do see that this transition is more successful between the ages of 16 and 18 months, but it is not unheard of in babies and toddlers who have lower sleep needs to make this transition earlier. Make sure your toddler is really ready for the change to one nap – if they’re not ready, this can mean unsettled nights, overtiredness and early rising – all of which no parent has time for!
I always suggest having your toddler on a short/long nap routine regularly before transitioning to one nap.This means a short catnap in the morning for 20-30 minutes, with their afternoon nap lasting longer. This afternoon nap is the one that will move forward into the middle of the day for their one nap scenario. That morning catnap is also one that can be done on the go (i.e., in the car or pram), usually with motion so they can rock to sleep, but also so they wake up when they stop moving.
- If you take them in the car and they stay awake the whole time
- If they are fighting the catnap or if they do nap, they are fighting the second nap
- If they do miss the nap, they are awake happily until midday, with no obvious signs of tiredness or irritability
- If on two naps (short/long) bedtime is getting later and later even when the second nap is capped short
- When they hit 15-18 months
- If they wake up earlier than usual on a two nap routine
- Firstly, try cutting their catnap short, little by little. If they’re not liking this, try keeping your toddler active and busy throughout the morning, offering lunch a tad earlier in the day. Shorten their ‘wake window’ from the nap to bedtime as they adjust to the one nap scenario – I usually suggest 4/4.5 hours before bed. This may also mean an earlier bedtime!
- As they adjust to the one nap scenario and are able to cope with a longer wake window from waking up in the morning to their nap, slowly push their nap back so that it sits somewhere between 12pm – 12.30pm. This one nap routine will stay in place for a good period of time – toddlers usually drop their nap ideally around the age of three.
Remember – some days, your toddler may fall asleep and do a two nap day. This is totally OK and common! Give your child a good 4 – 6 weeks for this transition to be completely settled.