At some point (and it’s different for all babies) usually between 12 and 18 months, your baby will be ready to drop a nap and move to a 1 nap day. This is a huge milestone for your baby - all of a sudden, their wake window will be much bigger. Don't feel daunted by it though - there is no reason why this transition can't be smooth! Some babies will take to it really easily and just fall into a new routine and others might need a bit of guidance - either way, we've got it covered!
Because this varies from baby to baby, here are some of the key things to look out for that may signal your little one is ready to transition:
Early waking – Has your little one suddenly started waking up early? This can sometimes just happen overnight! This is a key indicator that they might be ready to drop that morning nap.. simply put, your baby might be getting too MUCH sleep, so they want to start their day early! The starting point is always to cap the morning nap – reduce it to 30 minutes and wake your baby after that. If you find they’re still waking early, you can try dropping the morning nap altogether.
Refusing the morning nap – Your baby may start refusing their morning nap or taking ages to nod off. Try putting them down slightly later at first and keep it quite short.. basically a little cat nap to tide them through to lunch time. Don't let them sleep too long though otherwise it could start to impact that lunchtime nap!
Refusing the lunchtime nap – If your baby starts to refuse the lunchtime nap it’s a sign that something needs to change. Start by shortening the morning nap and protecting the lunchtime one. Your baby’s lunchtime nap should be long and restorative and will be the one nap that stays when they do transition to one nap, so it’s worth taking the time to get this right. Just remember not to let them nap too late in the afternoon otherwise you might find they battle bedtime!
We recommend you take it slowly when you change to a one nap day, unless your little one is in the older age range.
The wake window is going to change more than at any other time in your baby’s sleep transitions. You run the risk of your baby being overtired if they’re not ready – which leads to their body working really hard to keep them awake. When that happens your baby gets a surge of cortisol – which makes it harder for them to fall asleep and stay asleep. Cue the dreaded night wakings!
Wait and see what happens. Around this age there are a lot of other developmental factors at play! The lack of sleep brought about by the development milestone of walking often gets confused for a baby being ready to drop the second nap. This is why it’s so important wait and see if they’re actually ready to drop the nap, or if they’re just eager to practice their amazing new skill.
You might need to tweak naps by 15-30 minutes over the course of a few days or weeks until you get it right, or your baby may be able to adjust to a longer wake window quickly and easily. It varies so much - being aware of how long your baby is capable of staying awake for and looking out for those sleepy signals, will help to get your little one into a good nap schedule.