Is my child ready for one nap a day

We have a joke in our little family.  Cheesy as it is.  Whenever we question why our little one takes a little extra long to do down, or how how to readjust her post-travel, my husband always says, “Maybe you should talk with a Sleep Consultant?”  In this case, I’m glad I sought help 😉

Recently all of my hands-on learning has revolved around naps.  Like I mentioned last week, my daughter transitioned to one nap a day.  Already when I mention this to moms with kids my daughter’s age they immediately ask…

“How can I tell if MY kid is ready to move to one nap a day?”

 

First of all, let’s make sure you’re not pushing your baby too soon. I find that a good average age for this is somewhere around the 13th month.  My daughter happens to be 12 months, but she was showing all the signs.  Plus, now that we are on one nap she goes down much easier at bedtime.

Within my circle of Sleep Consulting I have seen babies go as early as nine months, but I’ve also seen babies hang on to two naps a day, until the 17th or 18th month. But if you are looking for an average, I would absolutely say 13 months. 

The following are signs you should look for when your little one approaches this age. 

She happily takes morning nap, but not afternoon nap

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 people find that it gets even longer than it’s ever been.  Recently I thought my daughter was extra tired from her morning play, until that afternoon nap arrived…

You’ll notice when you put her down for that afternoon nap, and she just won’t take it. Either she plays all the way through (my daughter) or she alternates between playing and some crying or she just starts to cry out of nowhere. Those are some things that you’ll start to see.

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

MY RULE: if you notice this PM-nap resistance at least five days a week, then it’s a good sign to make the switch. Also, this needs to be going on for, I would say, at least two to three weeks.  Sometimes nap resistance can just be a developmental milestone.  If she’s learning a new skill it can throw nap time off for a week or two.

Personally I chalked my daughter’s nap fight up to “She’s about to walk!” …She’s not quite walking and we are well into two weeks of one-nap days.  So always make sure you leave room to let them sort things out if it is a development stage.

WARNING: You can’t just go from a 10:00am nap to a 1:00pm nap in one day.  Your poor little guy’s body clock will be in utter chaos! By the time they get to naptime, they’ll be so overtired it will be even harder to get them down (remember: over-tiredness looks like hyperactivity) 

My Advice

Slowly start moving morning nap down into the afternoon.  Personally I suggest 30 minutes every three days.  If it’s 10:00am, you move it to 10:30 for three days, then you move it to 11:00 for three days, 11:30 and so on, until it hits about 12:30.

I find 12:30 is the perfect time for a one nap day. She can have her lunch and go straight into her nap. Any later than 1:00 you cross over into overtired land (remember: over tiredness looks like hyperactivity)…you don’t want nap time to be a fight! 

If you have questions about your Little One’s naps or would like a more detailed discussion on why your child isn’t sleeping well, send me a message.  I would love to hear more about them!

Sweet Dreams,

Your Pediatric Sleep Consultant