We were blessed to have Leslie Black of A Kiss Goodnight help us with transitioning Evie to sleeping on her own at night (you can read about that here), no more rocking her to sleep in her arms, after winning a contest on North Shore Mama. That gift of sleep came at the perfect time. Since then I have been able to take part in some webinairs Leslie has hosted, and ask questions about sleep and pick up some tips on transitioning from two naps down to one. Before getting these tips I was extremely intimidated about how we would transition Evie, and knowing when it was right to do so. However, with Leslie’s suggestions we had an extremely smooth transition. We went from Evie having two short, power naps back to having a nice long solid nap. Evie will now nap 2 and a half hours to 3 or so. It’s wonderful because we get time to do some work around the home, or down time! I truly hope Leslie’s tips will help you, if you have questions or need help with your little ones sleep or lack there of get in touch with her.
Making the Switch from Two Naps to One by Leslie Black of A Kiss Goodnight
Any time your child needs a change in schedule, things can become difficult for a while. Some schedule transitions are easier to make than others, and parents often report to me that the transition down to one nap per day is one of the toughest. It can take a child’s body 4-6 weeks to adjust to this change in their sleep habits, as they have to get used to going much longer periods in the day between sleep so there can be a lot of cranky or fussy behavior. Although making the switch can be hard, knowing when your child is ready and having a concrete plan will make the transition much easier.
The first step in making any transition, is to make sure your child is really ready and not just going through a phase. Before making any adjustments to your child’s sleep routine, you should see a distinct change in their sleep habits for 2 weeks. Children’s sleep can be temporarily interrupted by sickness, teething, developmental milestones, travel or starting daycare. If your child is going through any of these things, this may be the cause for a sleep interruption. If not and the interruption has occurred for at least 2 weeks, the next step is knowing the sleep signs to look for. The signs can be one nap becoming very long and a protest occurring for the other nap (generally, the morning nap becoming longer, but it can be the other way around), a sudden fight at bedtime or sudden early morning wake ups. If you see any or all of these signs for at least 2 weeks, you can be confident that an adjustment in schedule is needed.
When beginning your transition to one nap, it’s important to be patient and take things slowly. Your toddler will likely show signs of sleepiness at their regular nap time, so you will need to use a lot of distraction in order to keep them awake a little longer. You can try things like a change of scenery, getting outside or giving a snack that includes fruit. This will feel like a bit of a scramble at first, but below I will outline the steps that can make this transition as easy as possible.
Step 1: Move your toddler’s naptime later by 30 min. So, if the morning nap was at 10:00, push it to 10:30 for 3 days. Let your toddler sleep as long as they like.
Step 2: Put your toddler down for “quiet time” around 2:30 to help take the edge off until bedtime. She can stay in the crib for 1 hour. She may not sleep, but at least she will have had some down time before bed. If she does fall asleep, don’t let her sleep past 3:30 in order to keep bedtime on track. She may be a bit grumpy when you wake her up, but she will get passed this.
Step 3: If she didn’t sleep during quiet time, you may need to put her to bed as early as 6:30 in order to prevent her from becoming overtired.
Step 4: After 3 days, move the naptime to 11:00 for 3 days. Follow the same guidelines for afternoon quiet time and bedtime.
Step 5: Move naptime to 11:30 for 3 days. There may not be any time left in the afternoon for quiet time and you may find your toddler quite difficult to deal with around dinnertime. Remember, it’s ok to put her to bed early. This is a better solution than fighting with a toddler all evening!
Step 6: Move naptime to 12:00. This may mean that you have to move lunch to 11:30 until she adjusts to the new schedule. Don’t be surprised if during the next few weeks she starts nodding off in her highchair!
Although this transition is slow and takes great patience, once you have your toddler successfully transitioned to one nap, you will find that your day gets much easier and you have time for many more fun activities. If you follow the steps above and stay consistent, you will get there!
Leslie Black is a Registered Clinical Counselor with a Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology. She is also a certified Sleep Sense Consultant. You can get in contact with Leslie at her website: A Kiss Goodnight, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org , you can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.