One of the most common questions that parents using The Sleep Sense Program ask me is, “When should I move my child to one nap per day?”
Well, it depends on a few different things… so I’ve put together a short video for you explaining some of my best tips for transitioning your child to one nap when they’re ready!
If you’d rather read than watch, there’s a link to a full transcript below — and don’t forget that more than 109,000 parents like you have already used The Sleep Sense Program to get their child sleeping through the night! Click here to get started risk-free today.View the Video Transcript
Hi there, welcome to this week’s video blog. Today I want to touch a little bit about transitioning to one nap a day. I noticed on the blog there were quite a few of you expressing a little bit of concern with the transition from two naps to one. First, I want to give you a couple of hints on what to watch for, for signs that your child’s ready for the switch. What normally happens is the first nap of the day is great. In fact, it might be even better than it’s ever been; nice and long, goes down well, but then the afternoon nap rolls around and there’s a lot of fight.
Either she fights the whole thing or she plays in her crib or she only sleeps for 20 minutes. If that’s happening roughly three or four times a week, those are some pretty good indicators that your child’s ready to move to one nap a day.
One other thing I noticed from our viewers is that they’d made the transition to one nap a day, but their child wasn’t sleeping long enough. That’s very common. Whenever we make significant changes to our body rhythm of how we are used to sleeping, it usually takes at least four weeks for the body to adjust.
At first it’s a bit alarming if your child’s only taking an hour nap once a day, but I want you to give it time. I want you to hang in there. After the first couple of weeks, you’ll notice that the naps are getting nice and long. What I’d love to see for an afternoon nap, just one nap a day, is about a two to even three hour nap. You’ll get there, you just need to be patient with it.
What can you do in the meantime, though, to take the edge off a little bit? First of all, my very best advice is, once you’ve made the decision to move to one nap a day, you need to stick to it. I find that if you waffle back and forth between two naps some days, one nap the other day, it’s going to be much harder for your baby’s body rhythm to get in line with what’s the new routine.
The faster you move into things, and the more consistent you are with them, the better able your baby’s body is to get in line with what’s happening. Again, most things if you know me well, I say it it’s an all or nothing; once you’ve made the choice you’ve got to stick to it, even if that means you have a rough couple of days as you begin the transition.
If the naps are not yet long enough, what tends to happen then is she naps from noon until 1:00 and you can’t get her to go back to sleep after that, what are you going to do for the rest of your day to get her through until bedtime? My advice would be, around 3:00 in the afternoon, maybe go out for a drive, or a bit of a walk. If she takes a 20 30 minute catnap in the car or the stroller, that’s OK. Again, if you know me, I’m very against stroller and car seat sleep. I don’t think it’s the quality sleep. In this particular instance, I think it’s fine, just to take the edge off a bit, so that you can get your toddler to their regular bedtime, or close to it, without too much over tiredness.
If you push her through all day long without any kind of rest, you might find that when bedtime rolls around, she’s so over tired that it’s a struggle. She has a hard time settling down and getting into sleep. That should help take the edge off just a little bit.
Another thing you can do in the transition is move bedtime a little bit earlier. If she’s normally in her crib for 7:00, you can move that to 6:30 for a few weeks even to help take the edge off a bit. Again, overtiredness is something you should always be watching out for. That can just help ease some of this fatigue that may be setting in. OK?
One last thing before I set you free. If you’re transitioning to one nap, be careful not to make too big of a push from morning nap down to where it should be. Ideally 12:30 is the perfect time for one nap a day, but if she is usually napping at 10:00, jumping all the way to 12:30 might be too much of a push for her.
You’re going to need to ease into this gradually, and my advice is 30 minute increments every three days until you get to the appropriate time, and then that’s where it stays. OK? I hope that provides you with a little bit of guidance in this tricky time. Hang in there. Four weeks later you’re going to be seeing a great napper. Thanks, and sleep well.
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