I’ve been talking to a lot of parents lately about how to know when your little love is ready to drop to only one nap a day. Let me start by saying that I find that a good average age for when this tends to occur is somewhere around the 13th month.
Some babies go as early as nine months while others hang on to two naps a day until well into the 17th or 18th month. But if you were looking for an average, I would say 13 months. Let’s talk about some signs to watch for.
The first is that your baby will happily continue to take her morning nap. Nine times out ten, there is nothing wrong with morning nap. In fact, most people find that it gets even longer than it's ever been.
The trouble arrives when you put her down for that afternoon nap, and she just won't take it. Either she plays all the way through it or she alternates between playing and some crying or she just flat out starts to cry from out of nowhere. Keep an eye out for these changes.
But the tricky part about all of this is that those signs won't show up every single day. You'll find that there will be three or four times in a row where she doesn't take her afternoon nap. Just as you start to think to yourself, "okay, it must be time to drop that nap," then for three days in a row she takes both naps beautifully. That can really throw people off.
A good rule of thumb around that is if you notice this happening at least five days a week, then it’s a good sign that it's probably time to make the switch. Also, this needs to be going on for at least two to three weeks. This is key because it could just be a developmental milestone. If she's learning a new skill, it can throw naptime off for a week or two.
Now here’s a little bit of caution on making the switch. You can't just jump from a 10am nap to a noon nap. That would be too hard on her body clock and she will get so overtired that by the time you try for that nap, it's going to be trouble.
My advice is that you slowly start moving the morning nap down by about 30 minutes every three days. If it's usually 10am, you move it to 10:30am for three days, then to 11am for the next three days, 11:30am, and so on until it hits about 12:30pm.
I find 12:30pm is the perfect naptime for a one-nap day because she can have her lunch and go straight into the nap. If you’d like to talk about this or any other sleep challenge your child is having, feel free to send me a note through my contact form to set up your free 15-minute call. I'm always here to help!