Nap Transitions

Naps : 2

1

Age

Somewhere between the age of 12-18 months (although most kiddos land between 14-16 months), your kiddo will be ready to transition to just one nap a day.  It sounds scary, but the good news is, you can plan your day around just 1 nap instead of multiple naps throughout the day.

How to predict which end of that spectrum your kiddo will be on?  Children who take multiple long naps each day at age one will likely be closer to the later half of that range.  Children who take two short naps, or one short nap and one long nap, will likely be towards the earlier half of that range. 

SIGNS OF READINESS

Morning nap is usually the driver to begin your transition to one nap, although you will also likely notice changes in the afternoon nap as well.

Signs of Readiness

  • Not showing signs of tiredness at typical nap time

  • Hard time falling asleep

    • Crying when laid in crib

    • Takes a long time to fall asleep

  • Shorter nap

  • You should notice this over a 1-2 week period - not just on an off day

  • You only need to notice one sign of readiness before beginning your transition - not all signs must be present to indicate your kiddo is ready to transition to one nap

ULTIMATE GOAL

The ultimate goal is for your little one to nap around 12/1230PM each day. 

The process of switching from two naps to one takes many weeks (sometimes months) for most kiddos. 

MORNING NAP

Begin by moving the morning nap 30 minutes later than your typical morning nap time. 

If your kiddo is exhausted during that 30 minute period, keep the nap time here until you begin to notice the signs of readiness (listed above) again.  Repeat this process until nap time is at least 1130AM. 

On the contrary, if your kiddo still does not seem tired, has a hard time falling asleep, or continues to take a short nap, you may continue to move the nap time 30 minutes later every 1-3 days.  Do this until you notice your kiddo is exhausted during the 30 minutes leading up to nap time, or his nap time is 1230PM.

Although the goal is to have a nap time around 12/1230, some children will land on an 1130AM nap time for a few months before fully moving nap time to 12/1230PM.

AFTERNOON NAP

Begin by monitoring for signs of tiredness 3 hours after your kiddo wakes from his morning nap.  Once he shows signs of tiredness, offer an afternoon nap.

The afternoon nap may vary day to day.  All of these variations are okay!

  • Later Than Usual - Initially, he may need an afternoon nap every day - it will just be later than usual since the morning nap is later than usual

  • Shorter Than Usual - If he continues taking an afternoon nap, it will become shorter than usual over time

  • Cat Nap - May turn into a cat nap (less than 30 min)

  • Some Days - You may notice that he is only showing signs of tiredness/actually napping some days.  This is the beginning of dropping that final nap.

  • Even after your kiddo drops that final nap, he may have random days where he needs a little cat nap - this is totally normal/fine!

  • Note - The only time you need to wake your kiddo from a nap is to avoid letting him sleep past 5/530PM.  This should give him enough time to get tired before bedtime.

AFTERNOON NAP ALTERNATIVE

As your kiddo drops that afternoon nap, you may notice he is still in need of some type of rest during late afternoon.  Instead of a nap, you can offer some quiet time.

Suggestions for quiet time:

  • Play quietly on the floor together

  • Sing calm songs

  • Read books

  • Go for walk in the stroller - if he falls asleep, that's fine

BEDTIME

Once your kiddo has transitioned to one nap a day, he will likely be tired earlier in the evening.  Consider beginning bedtime earlier until his body adjusts to being awake for longer periods of time (may be weeks to months) .  Once you notice he is not getting fussy or melting down as early you can begin to slowly move bedtime back to your normal time.  

Naps : 1

0

Age

Dropping down to no naps is (for most parents) a sad, sad phase.  The timing of when this should happen is not as specific as going from two to one naps.  Most children still need a nap until age 4, however some 3 years old's don't need a nap, and some 5 year old's do need a nap.  Clear as mud, right?

The reason for the variation is multi-factorial.  First, there is no cookie cutter picture for how all children should sleep.  Some children sleep shorter at night and need a nap to get through the day, and some kiddos just need more sleep than others.  Additionally, there are many cultural, social, and environmental influences leading to a variety of different overnight and nap patterns.

Keep in mind, children ages 3-5 require 10-13 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.  Let this recommendation + your kiddos signs of readiness (see below) guide you in determining if your kiddo is ready to let go of his nap.

SIGNS OF READINESS

It is generally pretty easy to determine if your kiddo is ready to drop his final nap.  Either he can hang without a nap, or he can't.  And you will definitely know if he can't.

Signs of Readiness

  • Not showing signs of tiredness at typical nap time

  • Throws a fit or refuses nap

  • Takes a long time to fall asleep

  • Takes a short nap

  • Is able to make it through the day with normal temperament and without falling asleep if nap is skipped (with the exception of the final hour before bedtime)

BUT FIRST...

Before you totally eliminate your kiddo's nap, you may consider a few other options.

  • Be sure to offer lots of stimulation - new activities, different environments, and challenge learning.  Daytime activity plays a major role in influencing tiredness during the day and at night.  This is a good time to reflect on your daily routines and add some fresh, fun changes to your day if needed. 

  • Consider offering nap time a little later.  He may still need a nap, but isn't quite ready by noon.

 

QUIET TIME

When dropping your child's nap, be SURE to replace it with quiet time.

Rules of Quiet Time

  • At least one hour - generally 1-1.5 hours is reasonable

  • Around the same time each day- can be after a certain activity (always after lunch - time may vary some), a specific time (always 1-2PM), or at a general time of the day (early to mid afternoon when you are done with daily activities - this works well for weekends)

  • Must stay in a designated room

  • May do any activity - as long as it is calm and quiet (no yelling, no jumping around)

  • Spend quiet time alone - no adults or other children.  If you have multiple children who need quiet time, it is best to keep them in separate rooms to avoid added stimulation, crazy play, and/or arguing

QUIET TIME SUGGESTIONS

How should your child occupy his time for 1-1.5 hours each day?

Quiet Time Activity Suggestions

  • TV/Movie - Yes, it is okay for your kiddo to watch TV during quiet time.  If you have a limit of how much screen time he gets each day, you may save some (or all ) of that time for quiet time.

  • Art - Any art your child can do independently is a great option.  Coloring, play-doh, stickers, etc.

  • Legos - Younger children may enjoy free play with a big box of legos, while older children may enjoy independently working on a lego set

  • Books - Reading pictures is a great way to learn and relax if your kiddo enjoys looking at books.  Also, consider finding interactive books hat keep your child's attention.

  • Imaginative Play - It is totally fine for your child to use his imagination during quiet time.  He does not need to sit still.  He can play dress up , play with dolls, build a race track for cars, build a city for his action figures, cook in his play kitchen, etc

  • What other interests does your child have?  Basically anything he can do independently ,inside, in a relatively calm and quiet way is fair game!

TROUBLE SHOOTING #1

Implementing quiet time does not go smoothly for all families.  

If your kiddo will not stay in the designated room for an hour, you have a few options

  • Give your child a way to know when quiet time is over - set a timer he can see, tell him it is over when his show/movie is over, or set a music playlist that ends after the set amount of time

  • Begin with a shorter quiet time - How long will he stay in the room?  If he will only stay in the room for 20 min - set your timer (or whatever other indicator you have) for a couple minutes short of 20 minutes so he can be successful at staying in the room for the set amount of time. 

  • Praise him for staying in the room for the entire quiet time (even if it is shortened) and offer an agreed upon reward (sticker, special post-quiet time activity, etc). 

  • As he continues to accomplish staying in the room until his timer goes off, gradually increase the amount of time by 5 minutes every 3-5 days.

  • If quiet time is shortened - you can do some additional quiet activities together for the remainder of the 1-1.5 hours.  Although, I would avoid giving this a name or making a big deal bout this because it will be harder to transition away from when you are ready for a longer quiet time.

TROUBLE SHOOTING #2

If your child does not want to be alone during quiet time...

  • Explain that this is quiet time for everyone including mommy and daddy.

  • Avoid loud or distracting activity during this time.  Try yourself to do something quiet (take a nap, do work on the computer, read a book, cook, make a grocery list, clean)

  • Check in on him at intervals throughout quiet time

    • Check ins should be brief (about 1 min), boring (avoid engaging in activities with him), and relatively infrequent (come just a few minutes before he tends to call for you/come looking for you).

    • As he comes to expect/trust your check ins, you can gradually make them more infrequent.  Wait one extra minute at each check in until you notice he calls for you/comes to get you.  Then keep your check in's here until you feel he is ready to stretch them out again.  You want him to be successful at waiting for you to check in on him, so avoid trying to make your check in's too infrequent too soon.

  • Offer a reward for staying in his designated room, playing calmly/quietly, not calling out for you, and waiting for you to come check in on him (sticker, special post-quiet time activity, etc).

 

QUIET TIME

When dropping your child's nap, be SURE to replace it with quiet time.

Rules of Quiet Time

  • At least one hour - generally 1-1.5 hours is reasonable

  • Around the same time each day- can be after a certain activity (always after lunch - time may vary some), a specific time (always 1-2PM), or at a general time of the day (early to mid afternoon when you are done with daily activities - this works well for weekends)

  • Must stay in a designated room

  • May do any activity - as long as it is calm and quiet (no yelling, no jumping around)

  • Spend quiet time alone - no adults or other children.  If you have multiple children who need quiet time, it is best to keep them in separate rooms to avoid added stimulation, crazy play, and/or arguing

Born Happy, baby coach, toddler coach, sleep coach, sleep consultant

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Born Happy provides individualized in-home and virtual baby and toddler parent coaching.

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