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Just when you thought you had a pretty solid napping schedule for your baby, you start to notice some changes with your little one. They are most likely over a year old, they might be starting to walk, starting to babble more frequently and overall just wanting to constantly be on the move. All of these changes could be contributing to how your baby’s nap schedule might start to look a little different. Can you blame them for not wanting to be asleep as much during the day and wanting to continue exploring this big beautiful world they find so intriguing. Dropping a nap can be tricky to determine, so here is a little help to get you through this sleep change.
When Is My Baby Ready For Only One Nap?
For most little ones, between 13-18 months of age is usually the time when dropping a nap occurs. However, there is no hard deadline on when eliminating the morning or afternoon nap needs to occur. As parents, we need to keep in mind that sleep is so critical for babies growth and development and forcing them to drop the nap earlier then they need is not necessary. If you ask the mother of a two year old if they miss when their baby’s nap schedule consisted of two naps per day, chances are most would say YES! So let your baby give you the clues they are ready to transition to only one nap per day.
Read More: Benefits Of Napping: Why Kids Really Need It
Signs Your Baby Is Ready For One Nap A Day
If your baby is younger than 12 months of age, it is rare to drop to one nap. However, if you notice any of the behaviors below, try shortening your baby’s current nap time and not letting the naps exceed 1.5-2 hours.
If your baby is between 13-18 months you may begin to notice some of the readiness signs below:
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Short naps are the new normal
- Afternoon nap is interfering with your current nighttime routine
- Continuous early morning wakings
Not everyone of these behaviors have to take place in order for you to drop a nap. Let’s dive into each of these individually to understand what these readiness signs may look like.
1. Difficulty Falling Or Staying Asleep
It seemed like yesterday little Susie couldn’t wait for naptime. She was yawing 15 minutes prior to her nap and would occasionally crawl into your lap and lay her head down. She let you know she was going to be fast asleep once you laid her in the crib. Now, when it is time to lay her down, that is her cue that it’s time to rage. Playing in the crib or even fussing when she would normally fall asleep within minutes is a good sign your baby’s nap schedule might need to change. Your baby is letting you know they are not tired and need more awake hours. By dropping a nap and keeping your baby awake longer will help tremendously with keeping your bedtime routine on track and ensuring your little one can burn off that extra energy.
2. Short Naps Are the Norm
You’re starting to get into a good groove with all of your other “mom duties” and you hear over the baby monitor a party going on in your little one’s crib. But it has only been 30-45 minutes AND this seems to be the norm lately with both daily naps. Your baby’s nap schedule could be the culprit or your little one didn’t burn off enough steam and cat naps are all they need right now. By dropping a nap, your little one will have more hours to be awake, play, and get out all their energy so the nap they do take will be a solid, restful snooze.
3. Afternoon Naps Interfering with Nighttime Routine
Your nighttime routine used to be so calm and relaxing. Your little one used to take a bath, read, drink bedtime milk, and then out cold for the night. Now it seems to be a constant struggle with loud protests on most nights and watching your baby just lay awake in their crib. This is probably a good indicator that your baby just isn’t tired enough and needs more awake time between naps. Your baby’s nap schedule might need some tweaking in order to stop pushing back bedtime. Try shortening that last nap or dropping it altogether. You might need to play around with your baby’s nap schedule a little to keep their bedtime between 7 pm – 8 pm.
4. Continuous Early Morning Waking
And just like that it is 5:30 am again and you have your own private alarm on the baby monitor letting you know it is time to rise and shine. This has NOT been the norm with your little one’s wakings in the morning and now is constantly happening. Your baby’s sleep is changing and if they are getting too much sleep during the day they will not need as much sleep during the night. Your baby’s nap can be shortened or can be dropped completely to see if less sleep time during the day will help your baby to sleep the normal 10-12 hours they were used to getting. Let’s get your baby’s nap schedule back to normal with their 7 am wake up call!
How To Transition My Baby’s Nap Schedule To One Nap A Day?
Ok, now that you are ready to transition your baby from two naps to one, you are probably thinking, how does dropping a nap work? We want to keep your baby awake longer so that means it’s time to start pushing back nap time little by little. Start with 10-15 minute increments until you gradually fall into the time you are looking to start the one nap per day. You want to strive for the one nap being a mid-day nap so try picking a time between 11:30 am – 12:30 pm and have that be the goal you eventually get to. Your baby’s nap should be restful and last anywhere between 2-3 hours. Remember, this is a gradual transition so it may take a little time. Be patient with yourself and your little one.
How To Keep My Baby Awake Longer
It may not seem like that big of a deal, but asking your little one to stay awake hours longer than they were before, is a pretty big deal. For your baby to stay awake longer you will need to keep them busy with lots of different activities. Try switching up their daily morning play time to keep them going. Put together stations for them throughout the house and rotate from each activity every 10-15 minutes, the same amount of time your asking them to stay awake longer. Add a station in every few days, when you increase their wake time by 10-15 minutes to keep your baby’s mind stimulated.
Try getting outside (weather permitting) and make sure your baby is getting enough light exposure. Light helps to stimulate our brains. Help your little one get in some vitamin D and take a walk, get out your water play or have a fun picnic in the park. If you are stuck inside, turn on your lights, open your blinds, crank up some music and dance it out. This can be a great way to think outside of the box on how to keep your baby awake when they start showing signs of sleepy cues. And your dance moves are sure to get a giggle or two out them.
Our babies do a great job of providing us with signs on things they need and want, the tricky part can be figuring out how to decode those signs. Transitioning to one nap per day is going to be one of those behaviors changes where you will need to watch for their readiness cues on when they are ready for a single nap per day. Remember, this will be a gradual process with some getting use to for mama and baby but welcome this change in your routine and rock your new days ahead!
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on 15 Fund Indoor Activities for Toddlers.
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