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How to Transition Your Baby to One Nap

Your little baby isn’t so little anymore! As your baby grows, he’ll be able to stay awake longer and sleep less. See when it’s time to transition to one nap and how to make the transition to one nap smooth for the whole family!

transition to one nap - mom holding baby by crib

Transitioning from 2 naps to 1 can be one of the trickier nap transitions. Instead of extending your baby’s wake time by 15 or 30 minutes, you’re stretching it to 2 or 3 hours, to get them on a new one year old schedule, which can be quite a stretch!

While many parents don’t love losing one of their baby’s naps, the one-nap schedule gives you more time and flexibility to get out of the house for adventures. After you make the transition to one nap, you’ll have the morning and afternoon free, giving you a nice break while baby sleeps midday.

Most toddlers will still sleep the same amount of time during the day (around 2 to 3 hours). Instead of taking two shorter naps, they’ll consolidate their daytime sleep into one longer nap.

Learn all about when babies go from two naps to one and how to make the transition to one nap.

What Age do Babies Go From Two Naps to One?

Most babies are ready to transition from 2 naps to 1 nap between 13 to 18 months.

There is a 12-month sleep regression that can make you think your baby is ready to move to one nap sooner. Make sure you don’t confuse a sleep regression with the need to drop a nap.

If your 10 or 11-month old is struggling with naps or night time sleep, it’s likely a sleep regression and not time to transition to one nap. Most sleep regressions work themselves out within two to six weeks.

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If you’re struggling to get your baby to sleep, The Baby D.R.E.A.M. System is here to help! I’ve included all the information I give my clients when I work with them one-on-one to get their babies to sleep. Learn more and start sleeping!

How Do you Know When Baby is Ready for One Nap?

Wondering when to drop to one nap?

There are signs your baby is ready to drop the nap that are similar to a lot of the same signs he showed when you made the 3 to 2 nap transition. Some of the signs that your baby is ready to transition to one nap include:

  • Your one-year old refuses to take a nap. He might play and laugh the whole time in his crib during nap time.
  • Your child isn’t ready for his nap at his normal time. He isn’t showing signs of being tired and is content to stay awake.
  • Your baby starts waking up early from his nap. He may have taken 1.5 to 2 hour naps each day, and suddenly your baby only naps 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Bedtime becomes a battle. If your child starts resisting bedtime or playing in his crib after you put him to bed, he may be ready to drop a nap.
  • Your baby’s naps seem all over the place. You may have gone from having a predictable, set nap schedule to a suddenly chaotic nap schedule.
  • The afternoon nap can start to interfere with bedtime, pushing everything back.
  • Your baby starts waking up early in the morning. If your baby was typically sleeping until 7 am and suddenly starts waking up consistently at 5:00 am, it may be a sign he is ready to transition to one nap.

If your baby is between 13 and 18 months old and showing these signs, then it’s time to transition to one nap with your baby! Don’t wait for the 18 month sleep regression to make the transition.

baby standing in crib playing - may be a sign he's ready to transition to one nap

How Long Does it Take to Transition to One Nap?

The one-nap transition can be one of the trickier nap transitions, because if that one nap doesn’t go well, you don’t have any other daytime sleep to help out.

It may take a few weeks of short naps for your baby to adjust to the one-nap schedule. When your baby is transitioning to one nap, it’s common for them to only nap an hour or so at first.

If your baby’s naps are too short after making the transition, it’s normal! If you followed the guidance on when to transition to one nap, don’t go back to two naps at this point.

You can do an earlier bedtime to help make up for the lost sleep or try to squeeze in a car nap or stroller nap in the afternoon to help prevent your baby from becoming overtired.

The good thing about the one nap schedule is that it means more awake time for your baby, which means more time for you guys to go out and have fun adventures together!

baby laying in crib awake - could mean baby is ready to drop a nap

How Do I Transition My Baby to One Nap A Day?

Okay, once you’ve decided your baby is ready to make the transition, here’s how to do it!

Here are two ways to transition to one nap.

Gentle Approach

With the slower, gentle approach you will choose a new desired one-nap schedule and push the morning nap back by 15 to 30 minutes each day until you reach the new nap time (ideally between 12 and 1 pm depending on your child’s bedtime).

For example, if your baby was waking at 7 am, napping from 10 to 11:30 and then again from 2:30 to 4:00 pm with a 7:00 pm bedtime, you would push the first nap back to 10:30 that first day.

When I made the one nap transition, I let my daughter sleep for as long as possible for that first morning nap. Some babies may go up to 3 hours!

Each day you’ll push the new nap time back by 15 to 30 minutes until you are able to merge the two naps together.

Until you reach the later nap time, you may have to offer a catnap in the later afternoon or an early bedtime to help your baby from getting overtired.

1 year old standing in crib ready for one nap transition

Cold Turkey Approach

Another way to transition your child to one nap, is to find the new desired nap time and put your baby down at that time.

You may need to pull out some tricks to distract your baby in the morning to keep him from falling asleep sooner than you intended.

I always found that going outside helped my daughter. They may seem very tired initially, but they’ll get a bit of a second wind once they make it over their old wake time hump!

Bedtime can also be brought up with the cold turkey approach until your baby can meet the new wake windows without a meltdown.

In either approach when you transition to one nap, the nap may be short at first. It may take your baby some time to consolidate his sleep and get a good 2 to 3 hour stretch with one nap.

If you’re having trouble getting your baby to extend their nap, after giving them some time to adapt on their own, you can use one of the sleep training methods.

Transition to One Nap At Daycare

If your toddler goes to daycare, they will usually handle the nap transition for you! I would recommend starting the transition on a weekend while you can work toward those later wake times and let daycare take it from there.

Kids often sleep better at daycare anyway, especially once they are on that one nap schedule!

One Nap Schedule

Here’s a sample one nap schedule that you’ll stick to once you make the transition. At this point, don’t worry about wake windows. You’ll keep your baby’s nap the same time each day.

7:00 am: Wake up and nurse/bottle

8:00 am: Solids/Breakfast

11:30 am: Solids/Lunch

12:00–3:00 pm: Nap

3:00 pm: Snack

5:30 pm: Solids/Dinner

6:30 pm: Start bedtime routine

7:00 pm: Bedtime

The beauty of the one nap schedule is that you are almost done with nap transitions! Your baby will stay on the one-nap schedule until it’s time for him to drop the nap completely, usually around 4 years old.

Amy Motroni