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Going From Two Naps to One

May24

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Hi Amy,

Maybe this is something you’re going through with Ezra right now?  Or just went through?  So you have some sage, wise advice?  Or can at least hold my hand while I freak out for a while?

Advice Smackdown ArchivesI do believe the lack of taking ANY SORT of afternoon nap at all for the past few days is my baby’s way of telling me that, dude, he’s ready to drop to one nap.  I am kind of kicking and screaming, because I LIKE two naps.  And, OMG!  What am I going to DO with this child for such a long stretch of time during the day?  Breathe, breathe, it’s going to be fine.

So.  Suggestions?  Advice?  How do I drop down to one nap?  What do I do with this boy all day?  How do I keep myself sane?

Many thanks!
Alissa

PS – baby is almost 16 months old.  If that matters.

Yep. 16 months old. That’s prime drop-down-to-one nap time, and about exactly when both of my boys started boycotting my many many many many (AND ETC.) attempts to put them down for a second nap. Because, like you, I was terrified that going down to one nap would mean a terrible cut into my free time.

But honestly, it IS going to be fine, because that long chunk of awake time means you can…do stuff. Like, outside stuff. Even if it’s just running errands. You can run TWO errands! And then eat lunch out! All without having to sandwich everything in between naps lest you get stuck out in public with one truly miserably cranky baby.

And! (At least this was true for both of my kids, your mileage may vary.) That one nap a day? Is looooong. So nice and long. Ezra goes down right after lunch and basically sleeps all afternoon. Three hours, usually. Sometimes four. Five hours has not been unheard of, though I usually intervene at that point lest we start jeopardizing our precious regular bedtime.

So anyway. The key is to cut out that morning nap (which you’ve probably noticed is moving later in the morning anyway), tire him out as much as you can, and get him back to bed right after lunch. During the two-to-one nap transition, you might need to move lunch up a notch, lest he fall asleep riiiiight before eating, which screws everything up. And…that’s really all there is to it.

The end of Ezra’s morning nap meant the end of working from home without a part-time sitter around here, which was probably a bigger adjustment than anything, but it also makes weekend outings much easier, and Ezra’s moods easier to predict. (No more hoping that a 15-minute snooze in the car will be enough of a morning nap, for example.) And it means I’ve become quite a fan of the local playground and “nature walks” around the neighborhood, usually with Ezra pushing his doll stroller around while I wander behind with my iPhone — modern parenting at its finest. It’s a great age to finally buy (or actually commit to using) a jogging stroller, or sign him up for tumbling/music/whatever classes. There are some days (usually when it’s raining) when I’ve looked at the clock a dozen times by 9:45 am and desperately missed that morning nap, but I do love the predictability of that long, long afternoon nap. (It was always more of a wildcard back in the two-nap days, as I recall.)

As for the end of napping altogether…THAT’S a horrible day, and I don’t want to talk about it. (Happened some time between three-and-a-half and four, though I cheated and insisted on “quiet time in your room” for MONTHS after I knew he was really ready to quit napping. Some days I still do. When Ezra stops napping I’ll just ask someone to go ahead and bludgeon me with a shovel.)

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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18 Responses to “Going From Two Naps to One”

  1. Philip @ RAOP May 24 at 3:25 pm Reply Reply

    Ah the nap dilemma! My wife thought the same thing when our oldest drop down to one nap. The biggest problem was an infant that was still taking three. Now they all take one except the youngest at 5 months.

    What we did was move the nap earlier (12 or 12:30) just after lunch and for over a year he would nap for 2 to 3 hours. My wife really enjoyed it. As he got older it became quiet time. He didn’t have to nap, but he had to stay in his room and let his sisters nap. We do that even now and he is almost 4.

    To be honest, we are not planning on changing this anytime soon. He (and his sister after him) needs to learn how to entertain themselves and play quietly. Having an hour or two (usually two) in the afternoon where they are expected to play quietly isn’t too much to ask. They also do it very well now. It did take a week or so to get into the habit though.

    Dropping a nap is never fun, but it is also not the end of life as we know it either. just think, as your child grows and needs less sleep they are also gaining skills and are capable of doing more. Focus on the pluses and the negatives don’t seem too bad.

  2. amy corinne May 24 at 3:54 pm Reply Reply

    My daughter is 18 months and she’s never been a great napper. She’s been dropping down to one nap per day for the past month or two, but the fun part is that sometimes she naps in the morning and sometimes she naps in the afternoon. Sometimes she still naps twice. It sure is awesome not knowing what to expect day to day.

    Yesterday she napped from around 11:30 to 1:30 but most days, she naps for 2-3 hours starting around 2:00.

  3. heidi May 24 at 6:30 pm Reply Reply

    I just have to say enjoy it. I did not have good nappers. Not one of the four took 2 naps a day past the newborn stage. By 18 months? No naps at all for any of them. So I say phhhttt! to you and your nappers.

    (I kid. I’m totally jealous and glad mine are in school all day now.)

  4. Jaymee May 24 at 6:44 pm Reply Reply

    2 to 3 hours is an extra long nap? I thought that was a normal nap. My son(8 months) takes a morning nap that is 2 1/2 hours long and an afternoon nap that is 3 hours long. Plus he sleeps 12 hours at night. I didn’t know he takes extra long naps, I wonder if when he goes to one nap if it will be more of a 4 hour nap. Could you imagine having 4 consecutive hours of free time every day?! All the thing I could get done!!

  5. JCF May 24 at 6:58 pm Reply Reply

    Yep, that’s pretty much been our experience with both kids as well–around 14 months, the afternoon nap stopped happening, and we knew it was time to drop the morning one!

    I dreaded it with my first, but like Amy said, I quickly realized that we could go to the park, the zoo, playdates, errands, library story time, etc. without worrying about squeezing everything in that short period of time between the two naps. I actually was very anxious for it with my second, since neither one of my kids has ever (past the newborn stage) been a good out-of-the-house napper.

    Now both kids (16 months and 2.5 years) take one nap from approximately 12:30-3:30 (give or take a bit on either side depending on moods–mine included), and we can get out of the house all morning! Woohoo!

  6. Roberta May 24 at 7:00 pm Reply Reply

    We went from 2 naps to 1 at around 13-14 months. My daughter has never napped for long and has always fought napping a bit. She now naps for 1.5-2 hours in the early afternoon – 2 hours is LONG for her! Like Amy says, you can *do* so many more things with your kid and not worry about squeezing it in between naps. I also found it much less stressful to only have to do the nap ritual once a day instead of twice. We also found that it improved her nighttime sleep and gave us much longer stretches of sleep at night when we dropped the nap. Bonuses all the way around for us!

  7. Heidi May 24 at 7:01 pm Reply Reply

    So, just to reiterate they get the same AMOUNT of nap time, just condensed? Or is that just my baby? She naps for 1-1.5 hours every time….Maybe Mimi (as she calls me) will nap too!

  8. Rachel May 24 at 7:42 pm Reply Reply

    Okay, my one year old has dropped his AFTERNOON nap instead of his morning nap. And, honestly, it’s going to be the death of me. He’s a super crankasaurus by 4pm and if he falls asleep at that point he, of course, then wakes up in an hour and then won’t go to bed until 10.

    I’m considering a nervous breakdown. How do I get him to ditch the MORNING nap? Before I cry?

  9. Susan May 24 at 4:03 pm Reply Reply

    Rachel, you need to push the morning nap later by keeping the baby awake longer – yes, it is a torment for both of you for a couple of days, but gradually he’ll get used to it. Snackbox used to nap 10-noon and 2-4, then dropped the afternoon nap, which was hell on all of us (I tried to encourage “quiet time in your crib” but that just translated into him howling for an hour). Then I started delaying morning nap for 15 minutes at a time, giving him a protein/carb snack mid morning. He started napping 11 – 2:30 or 3, but that meant he wasn’t eating lunch until mid-afternoon, and then dinner was only 3 hours later. So we pushed nap back farther – now we eat lunch at 11:30 and nap at noon for about 2 hours 15 min (sometimes 3). It is great to be able to do stuff in the mornings – I have totally signed up for the gymnastics/music/baby sign language classes and it’s great to get out of the house (bonus – all of those activities tire the boy out like NOTHING else).

  10. Ms. K May 24 at 4:22 pm Reply Reply

    Wow. This is a total revelation. This totally explains what my 16 month old is up to. The crappy afternoon napping. EXPLAINED! Wow! Thank you! Now if only I can get all the day care providers and my husband to all abide by the same schedule…fabuloso. Thank you Amalah!

  11. Jenn May 24 at 6:12 pm Reply Reply

    Two. Naps. A. Day? What is this two naps a day of which you people speak?

    My son is 15 months old. By the time he was Eleven Weeks old, he had organized his own sleep schedule – which included going to sleep at 9 pm and sleeping all the way through to 7 am. but that also included one nap. ONE. From noon-ish til 3 ish. Even now, he sleeps about 11:30ish til about 1:45 ish, and that’s it.

    I guess I can’t complain, because he sleeps at night, which is what is most important (at least to me!) but I never had two naps a day.

    Does this mean he’s going to give up the ghost of napping early? Oh sweet mother of pearl. Hold me.

  12. Erin May 24 at 7:37 pm Reply Reply

    At first I was skeptical, too…but I actually like one nap better than two. Just like you said, we’re now free to go to the park in the morning, take a music class together, get home and eat…and THEN nap…which leaves me with AT LEAST two hours sometimes more in which I can do what I want to do, or need to do. The afternoons get tricky, but my son wakes up at 2 or 3, and I start dinner at four…so we just usually play outside, go for a ride, or (EEKKK!) watch a video for awhile until it’s time for eating, bath, last minute playtime and bed. It IS a predictable day, my baby is happier and less cranky…and I even find myself wanting him to wake up so we can go do the many things we’ve been able to do since he’s not sleeping ALL THE TIME.

    Just watch out, because that nap will move around a bit. At first it started at 10:30, then went to 11…now we’re at 12. And I like 12. 12 is very good :) Just go with the flow and enjoy the last days before DA DA DUMMMMM no nap…AHHHH!

  13. Alissa May 24 at 8:19 pm Reply Reply

    Thanks, everyone, for helpful comments!

    I just did the switch to one nap with the boy on Saturday. And it’s going ok so far. He goes down at 11 right now, up around 12:30. Eventually I’ll push the nap back to noon or later.

    Right now my problem is with bed time and when to make that happen. Because when he’s awake by 1PM, he most definitely doesn’t last til his normal 7PM bed time. Can’t I just put his little butt in bed for the night at, say, 4PM? ;-)

    Glad to hear from all of you that it’s not as dramatic and as big a deal as I am worrying about!

    Alissa (the question asker)

  14. crabby appleseed May 24 at 10:12 pm Reply Reply

    My daughter was a horrible sleeper from the day she was born. Starting when she was about four months old, she started waking up at 5am. Every day. No amount of sleep training would break that habit. eventually, she pushed that back to 4:30. I could ignore her, but she’d just scream until 6a anyway, so it didnt’ do any good.

    then we stopped trying to make her take two naps. within two days, she was sleeping until 6:30 every day. sometimes later.

    I know she needed both naps when she was six months old, but I REALLY regret waiting so long to drop to one nap when she was clearly ready earlier. It solved our sleep problem like magic. Oh, and RACHEL- she initially tried to do the same thing. We just worked hard to push the morning nap until at least 11am (our pedi’s trick was to give her lunch as early as 10:45), and it worked like a charm.

  15. Wallydraigle May 25 at 2:38 am Reply Reply

    The transition is such a nightmare. Silver lining, though: toward the end, when my daughter just couldn’t make it to noon without completely falling apart, but had outgrown an actual nap in the morning, she would fall asleep (more of a doze, really) on me for about 20-30 minutes in the morning, something she hadn’t done since she was an infant. It was so very sweet. I really miss that. When my second baby is at that stage, my older daughter will be almost three, so I won’t have the luxury of just holding her and smelling her hair this time. *sob*

  16. Wallydraigle May 25 at 2:43 am Reply Reply

    Forgot to say that I, too, prefer the one nap a day. I also eye the clock around 10 in the morning some days, but for the most part, I much prefer this. It helps that my daughter is very good at independent play. We’ve encouraged it since she was small, and it also seems to be in her nature. We play with her, too, of course, but she doesn’t need hands-on attention ’round the clock. If she did, I am quite sure I would miss that second nap a whole lot more.

  17. Kirsty May 25 at 5:14 pm Reply Reply

    Wow, I’m with Heidi and Jenn on this one – my elder daughter (now 8 and a half) is a good night-time sleeper but HATED naps almost from birth (and gave up all pretense of napping completely by the time she was 2 – except at school, where she ACTUALLY SLEPT (peer pressure, anyone?) for about a year longer). My younger daughter (now 6 and a bit) despises sleep and always has; naps were never really an issue because she just WOULDN’T. Even at school – if she did “sleep”, she’d be the last to “fall asleep” and the first to wake up.
    That said, once we realised that these (to us) mythical 3-hour afternoon naps just weren’t going to happen, it did give us a lot of freedom to get out and about on day-trips, out early on winter afternoons (our daughters’ friends never saw daylight in winter!), etc. I wouldn’t worry about it – every development brings change of some kind, just go with it and turn it to your advantage. If it’s not happening, don’t force it!

  18. Jessica Mar 14 at 9:08 am Reply Reply

    It’s nice to see that someone sees it like I do! I WISH my 13 month old would be able to drop to one nap a day right now! Though I do love having the alone time, I think I’d rather have the convenience of less naps cutting into our day.
    He switched from three naps to two around 10 or 11 months. We’ve tried him on one nap and it’s hit or miss. He tends to go through these weird sleep regressions (not where he’s waking up at night, but were he only naps a short amount of time an wakes up hysterical). At the moment, he sleeps is unbelievably inconsistent. A couple of morning he slept til 9am and this morning woke up at 6:45 then fell back to sleep an hour later. I don’t really know what to do with him when he’s like this, I feel helpless because I don’t understand my own child (especially since my two year old is so astoundingly predictable). Anyway, lots of rambling… The point is, it will be a happy day when we can cut him down to one nap.

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