The Fussy Baby Site

Transitioning to One Nap – Winning the Dreaded Nap Battle

So you sleep-trained your baby and thought your sleep troubles were behind you. Then it happens – the dreaded nap battles.

Does one of these scenarios sound familiar?

  • Your child takes an hour to fall asleep.
  • Your child falls asleep easily but won’t nap in the afternoon.
  • Disorganized napping makes early evening an all out disaster.

Wouldn’t it be great if sleep issues were one and done?

Instead, your child’s brain and body are a virtual minefield of transitions and milestones just waiting to interfere with restful sleep.

Arm yourself with a little knowledge and you can head these changes off at the pass and enjoy smoother transitions.

6 Signs Your Baby is Ready For Just One Nap

  • Your baby is between 15 and 18 months (this can vary, but is a good guideline)
  • Your baby takes longer and longer to fall asleep for the morning nap
  • Your baby takes a short morning nap, or such a long morning nap that an afternoon nap is out of the question
  • Your baby sleeps uninterrupted for 11 hours at night
  • You may feel the transition: two naps are too much while one nap is not enough
  • You recognize a pattern developing, rather than the occasional occurrence

Keep in mind that a two to three week adjustment period might be necessary, even when things go smoothly. During this adjustment, baby may be cranky and need a slightly earlier bedtime. There will likely be days when baby still needs two naps and others where you can get by with just one.

Remember These 3 Crucial Points

Avoid making the switch too soon simply because your baby refused a nap once or twice. Don’t mistake normal age and milestone-related nap disturbances as a sign that baby is ready to drop a nap.

The afternoon nap is the one you will keep, so don’t allow baby to develop a habit of taking a long morning nap and then fighting a second one. Control the length of the morning nap to ensure your baby can go down again in the afternoon.

Ensure your baby is sleeping well through the night to avoid overtiring your child.

When You Are Ready to Make the Transition

Start by gradually pushing the morning nap later in 20-30 minute increments every few days. For example, 11:00 for a few days, then 11:30 for a few and so on until your baby has adjusted enough to make it to a midday nap (12:30 or 1:00) without growing overtired and fighting sleep.

Move bedtime earlier for a few weeks.

Be open to an occasional two nap “catch-up” day.

If your baby takes a short nap (common during this transition) try to resettle him or allow him time to resettle himself as this will be his only nap of the day.

Finally, take solace in the fact that this too shall pass. Once this transition is complete, your own schedule will become much more manageable. One daily nap makes planning and fun much easier. Congratulate yourself – you are well on your way!

Erica Desper is a postpartum doula and sleep consultant in the Philadelphia area. For over ten years she has been supporting families through the choices and challenges that come with parenting.