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Changing from Two Naps to One

Changing from Two Naps to One

How to move from two naps to one

Instead of thinking in terms of “dropping a nap,” it’s better to think in terms of a schedule change. In most cases, the new singular nap is really a melding of the two naps into one nap in the middle of the two previous times. Often this one nap is longer than either of the two previous naps, but not quite as long as the two combined.

The switch to one nap is rarely a one-day occurrence. Most often there will be a transition period of several months when your child clearly needs two naps on some days, but one nap on others. On some days you’ll have no idea if it’s a one-nap day or a two-nap day. Here are a few ways to cope during transition time:

1. Go with the flow

Watch for your child’s sleepy signs, such as rubbing his eyes, and put him down for a nap when those indications first appear.

2. Keep a two-nap routine

Keep two scheduled naps, but don’t require that your child sleep at both times–allow quiet resting instead. This often works best as one longer late-morning sleeping nap and a shorter afternoon quiet time rest period. If occasionally your child falls asleep during the second nap time, you can either let him sleep as long as he likes–but be prepared to move bedtime later–or gently wake him after an hour.

3. Move to one nap

Choose a single naptime that is later than the usual morning nap, but not as late as the afternoon nap. Keep your child active (and outside when possible) until about 30 minutes before the time you have chosen. Then, give your child a healthy snack and begin a wind-down period and pre-nap routine. It may help to break lunch up into two parts, serving half of his lunch before nap and half when he wakes up. For a few weeks he may be fussy or whiny that last hour or so. Just be patient as he adjusts to the new schedule.

4. Earlier bedtime

On days when a nap ends up being early in the day, move bedtime earlier by 30 minutes to an hour to minimize the length of time between nap and bedtime.

Meet our expert:

Elizabeth Pantley is the author of eight parenting books, including: The No-Cry Sleep Solution. She is also a contributing author to The Successful Child with Dr. William Sears. Based in Washington, Pantley is the president of Better Beginnings Inc. (a family resource and education company) and a parenting expert for a variety of publications including: Parents, Parenting, and Redbook.