General

What to Consider When Transitioning Your Baby to One Nap

When your baby reaches about six to eight weeks old, you’ll likely begin to notice that she’s getting tired earlier and earlier in the day. This is because she’s growing and developing at an incredible pace. While this is a good thing, it also means that your little one will need more sleep as the days progress. If you’ve been following the same pattern of alternating between two naps throughout the day, you’re likely going to have to make some adjustments now.

Transitioning to one nap a day 

During the first 18 months of life, a baby’s sleep patterns fluctuate frequently. A proper schedule has not yet been determined from infant to approximately 6 months, and the daytime remains irregular. Individual deviations exist, of course, but about 6 months, daytime sleep increasingly becomes three times a day: a morning nap, an afternoon nap, and an evening nap. At 7.5 months, children began sleeping three times a day: morning nap, afternoon nap, and nighttime nap. Then, at 9 months, evening naps are dropped, and the shift is made to two morning naps and two afternoon naps, gradually increasing to two afternoon naps from late 8 months to 9 months. Between the ages of 1.2 and 1.5 years, it switches to one nap. Naps will eventually stop at around 3 1/2 to 4 years of age.  When to transition to one nap is different for each child since they all sleep differently.

There are now extra factors to consider when to transition to one nap. The length of a child’s activity time (the amount of time he or she can stay awake) has a significant impact on his or her mood and behavior, and naps are essential until about age 3, regardless of how well he or she sleeps at night.

Characteristics of a child that still needs to nap twice a day (morning nap and afternoon nap):

  1. The child is under the age of one year.
  2. When you try to put them to sleep, they resist at first, but once they do, they always sleep for at least an hour.
  3. When you take them out in the car or in a stroller, they sleep.
  4. They will remain up till nap time or throw tantrums if they do not get enough sleep in the morning.
  5. When you go out, they don’t take a nap, but they take two good naps at home.

Characteristics of a child when to transition to one nap.

  1. Takes one of two naps, but wakes up quickly. Alternatively, they may not sleep at all.
  1. In the morning, they get out of their cot or stroller and never return.
  1. They are in a good mood and enthusiastic all the way to their next bedtime if they don’t take a morning nap
  1. They go to bed OK the first time, but they oppose the second time and refuse to sleep.

Is two naps enough for your baby?

As tiredness increases, homeostasis leads the body to try to sleep more and more. However, if you are unable to sleep and get overly exhausted as a result of your lack of sleep, you will experience sleep problems. When the body is too exhausted to sleep, it becomes anxious, and the limbic system feels threatened. Negative emotions (weeping) increase as the limbic system is aroused. Because the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which regulates “negative emotions,” is immature and loses activity when the baby sleeps, the newborn becomes irritated and cries excessively. This never-ending cycle of anger, weeping, and inability to quiet down is making it increasingly difficult for the child.  Furthermore, if the baby is too weary to sleep at night due to a lack of naps, the brain will be unable to calm down, causing the baby to wake up in the middle of the night and cry even more.

When to transition to one nap occurs after a year. Instead of two afternoon naps and a morning nap, babies just take one nap per day. Babies who used to fall asleep every three to four hours due to exhaustion are now stronger and can stay up for longer periods of time.

If your baby isn’t tired enough to take one nap during both of their usual times, then it’s okay to let them take two naps in one day. It’s especially useful when you’re transitioning from taking 3 to taking just 2, but you can use it at any time you need some extra support.  Some parents discontinue naps when their children are one and a half or two years old, but this is far too early! Naps provide a number of advantages that are critical for a child’s development: 

  1. Improved memory
  2. Memory enhancement
  3. Stress alleviation
  4. Immune system boost

How often you can take short naps

Here’s what a nice nap looks like for babies of various ages.

1–2 months old

Babies sleep all day and night during this time. You aren’t conscious of nap time yet, and it’s perfectly fine to go at your baby’s pace.

2–4 months

It is ideal for babies to have three different naps during this age, when they are progressively learning to distinguish between day and night: one hour in the morning, two hours in the afternoon, and one hour in the evening.  The primary aim is to ensure that evening naps do not extend past 5:00 p.m., as this will interfere with nighttime sleep and bedtime routines.

5 to 8 months old

Nap times should be reduced to one hour in the morning and two hours in the afternoon at this time.  Long morning and evening naps should be phased off gradually.

9 to 1 year old

Some babies, depending on their personalities, may not sleep in the morning at this age since they are growing in strength. Morning sleep should be limited to around 30 minutes, with a two-hour nap in the afternoon. This is the period when to transition to one nap.

Longer naps for your older baby

Aim for a nap of about two hours. Allowing children to play vigorously in the morning and putting them to sleep after lunch makes it easier to develop a regular rhythm. If left alone, a 9-month-old baby can sleep for up to 3 hours. If the naps are too long, the infant may not go to bed at night, disrupting the daily pattern. Rather than letting your infant sleep till he or she wakes up, wake him or her up after roughly two hours.  Here are some suggestions for getting a baby who sleeps poorly to nap longer. This approach can take anywhere from three days to a week.

  1. Create a sleep-friendly environment.
  1. Before your child falls asleep, begin tucking him or her into bed.
  1. Allow them to sleep on the crib in order for them to fall asleep again when their sleep cycle gets shallow.
  1. Do not pick up the baby soon after he or she wakes up crying, but rather give him or her a chance to fall back asleep when he or she feels sleepy.

During the first 18 months of life, a child’s sleep pattern alters dramatically.

However, if you understand your baby’s or child’s tough sleeping pattern, you will be able to better adjust to changes and have a greater sense of control in child rearing.