Dropping a Nap Without Drama

nap without drama sm

The road to a single nap can be bumpy. Let us lead the way.

The move from two naps to a single afternoon nap is a hallmark of toddlerhood, but it’s fraught with confusion for parents. Your tot knows when he’s ready to transition, but with decidedly limited verbal capabilities, he can’t easily clue you in.

Instead, he cries and fights naptime, wakes up tired after a too-short nap, or skips them altogether. Even worse, diminished day sleep may leave him so overtired that he sleeps restlessly and wakes at night. The result: a cranky toddler with exhausted parents.

Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix. According to Dr. Raj Kakar, board-certified sleep specialist and medical director of the Dallas Center for Sleep Disorders, it can take months to arrive at a comfortable one-nap routine. Until then, kids are in limbo. Two naps, and they’re bouncing off the walls at bedtime; one nap, and they’re fried by sundown. The good news? A little knowledge goes a long way. Read on.


Ready or Not?
The first step toward a successful transition is determining whether your child is ready. Generally, a tot who can stay awake happily for four hours or longer during the day is ready. Nearly all one-year-olds will make drop the morning nap before they turn two, most during the second half of the second year.

In “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child,” Dr. Marc Weissbluth reports that only 17 percent of 12-month-olds have a single nap. By 15 months, the number is 56 percent. By 24 months, 95 percent of toddlers have transitioned to one nap.

Don’t jump the gun; your baby will likely skip a nap or two long before she’s ready to join the ranks of single-nappers. The key to determining if she’s ready to switch lies in consistency: if she bucks a nap every day for a week, then she’s probably ready for fewer daytime siestas.

Gear Up to Step Down
During the transition, keep your eyes on the prize: a single nap in the afternoon is your goal. Older toddlers’ circadian rhythms are geared toward an afternoon siesta—it helps them prepare for a pleasant evening, an easy bedtime, and a restful night. But as any parent knows, toddlers can be uncooperative. They frequently take a late-morning nap without complaint and skip the critical afternoon nap. This lands them smack-dab in the middle of meltdown city by early evening.

When your child shows signs of dropping a nap, make sure the morning snooze is the one to go. Gradually decrease the length of the morning nap by 15 minutes every few days step down his morning rest to preserve the afternoon nap by.

Going, Going, Gone
Even with a shortened morning snooze, many tots will persist in skipping the afternoon nap. In this case, Dr. Weissbluth suggests making the morning nap 10 to 20 minutes later each day until it occurs at midday. If your little one is falling asleep during dinner, try alternating two-nap days with one-nap days until she can get by on a single snooze, or offer a short catnap in the late afternoon.

Kathleen Yarbro used this technique to help her daughter Bethany make the switch. “I pushed the a.m. nap later and let her sleep as long as she needed. Then she took a short catnap in the late afternoon until she could make it all the way to bedtime without one,” she explains.

Taking Care of Business, Working Overtired
During the transition, your child might need an ultra-early bedtime to compensate for extra tiredness. Contrary to popular belief, dropping a nap doesn’t mean your child needs less sleep overall. Toddlers need between 12 to 14 hours of sleep until around age three.

Be prepared to spend extra time winding down your extra-tired tot before his single nap and at bedtime. This is a great time to establish a naptime routine if you don’t already have one. “It’s important to create recognizable ritual that the child associates with sleep,” says. Dr. Kakar. “This makes the transition from two naps to one nap easier.”

Beware the Nap Echo
After your child has made the switch, she may feel the pull of a morning nap for months. Tiny doses of morning slumber can disrupt the afternoon nap; a ten-minute snooze during a midmorning car trip may be enough to render your child napless come afternoon. Once a single midday nap is established, incorporate some morning quiet time, but be careful to preserve the afternoon sleep.

Above all, don’t expect an overnight change. It’s usually a slow transition over weeks or months. “Most children take 3 to 4 months to fully make the switch,” notes Dr. Kakar.

Look out, world!
While you might miss the morning break, there are perks to parenting a single-napper.

“It’s liberating—fewer naps to work around!” says Yarbro. Kids are often so tired by the time their single nap arrives that they go down quickly and sleep for a longer stretch. Even better, you now have the entire morning free to explore the world with your little dynamo.

------------------
Malia Jacobson is a freelance writer who writes frequently about children’s sleep and health issues. She successfully navigated the two to one nap transition with both of her daughters.

Toddler Products Review

Toddler Products Review

Toddler Products! Check out these products designed especially for the growing curiosity and independence of toddlers. Graco TurboBooster TakeAlong Booster Seats$49.99-$99.99; Graco.comProvide sa . . .

Read more

Let the Kids Get Dirty

Let the Kids Get Dirty

A clean freak’s tips for outdoor playAs a recovering clean freak, I often create excuses to avoid going outside. Kids have a knack for achieving maximum grubbiness outdoors. My 3-year-old likes to . . .

Read more

Sunscreen Safety for Kids

Sunscreen Safety for Kids

Common myths about protecting your child’s skinContributed by Sunny Gault of New Mommy MediaWe know skin protection is important—especially in the San Diego summer sun—but there is a lot of mi . . .

Read more

Toddler Product Review

Toddler Product Review

Toddler Products! Check out these products designed especially for the growing curiosity and independence of toddlers. pediped Rosa Gingersnap Shoes$29.95-$45; Pediped.compediped Originals Rosa G . . .

Read more

Confessions of a Mortified Mom: how she handled public tantrums

Confessions of a Mortified Mom: how she handled public tantrums

Temper tantrums from the little ones can strike at any time—unfortunately even when we’re in the middle of the grocery aisle or picking up a coffee to go. It may not be our finest hour, but gett . . .

Read more

Nighttime Potty-Training Tips for Success

Nighttime Potty-Training Tips for Success

Evaluate your expectations. You might expect that the moment your children learn how to control their bladders during the day that will also mean immediate nighttime success, but that scenario is q . . .

Read more

Baby Teeth are Very Important

Baby Teeth are Very Important

Primary (baby) teeth eventually fall out, but until they do, they play a critical role in your child’s development. They are important for biting into and chewing food, speech development and savi . . .

Read more

Lessons Learned from

Lessons Learned from "Toddlers & Tiaras"

Top 5 Lessons Parents Can Learn from “Toddlers & Tiaras” To most parents “Toddlers & Tiaras” is so offensive that we can hardly watch it, let alone relate to it. After all, this is a . . .

Read more

Bye Bye Binky! How to Part With The Pacifier

Bye Bye Binky! How to Part With The Pacifier

Ready to help your child give up a pacifier? Here are some tips for navigating the tricky transition. Whether they’re crystal clear, neon-bright or covered in rhinestones, pacifiers are the modern . . .

Read more

Potty Training At Night

Potty Training At Night

When my first daughter showed signs of potty readiness at age two, I was more than ready to help her ditch the diapers. Before long, she was proudly sporting Elmo underwear and staying dry all day l . . .

Read more

Food Allergy Alert

Food Allergy Alert

Carol D’Agnese is afraid of cheese, milk and anything else that comes from a cow. It is an odd phobia, but D’Agnese has every reason to fear dairy products. Her son, Luke, was nearly killed by a . . .

Read more

Dropping a Nap Without Drama

Dropping a Nap Without Drama

The road to a single nap can be bumpy. Let us lead the way. The move from two naps to a single afternoon nap is a hallmark of toddlerhood, but it’s fraught with confusion for parents. Your tot kn . . .

Read more

Prepare Your Toddler for a New Sibling

Prepare Your Toddler for a New Sibling

Prepare Your Toddler For A New Sibling You were elated to bring your first baby into your family, and you delight in watching her grow. Now it’s time for your baby to become a big sister! Preparing . . .

Read more

Getting Toddlers to Eat a Nutritious Meal

Getting Toddlers to Eat a Nutritious Meal

How to Get Toddlers to Eat a Nutritious Meal A smorgasbord of secrets for successful small-fry suppers If you are raising a toddler, then you need very few reminders of how it can be a real strugg . . .

Read more

Making Art with Toddlers

Making Art with Toddlers

 The toddler years are the perfect time to make art projects and experiment with different materials. Many parents show their toddler how to color with crayons, but often think that their ch . . .

Read more

The Right Shoe Fit Can Prevent Spine, Back & Foot Problems

The Right Shoe Fit Can Prevent Spine, Back & Foot Problems

A recent study presented at the 2009 annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons showed that 52.8 percent of outdoor shoes and 61.6 percent of indoor shoes were too small for the . . .

Read more

Potty Training Success

Potty Training Success

Prodding, pleading, pushing, punishing—these are the tactics parents use when toilet training their child. But according to experts, it is patience and praise that make potty training really pay o . . .

Read more

When Can you Ditch Your Child’s Booster Seat?

When Can you Ditch Your Child’s Booster Seat?

Don’t ditch your child’s booster seat too soon In the last 20 years, America has seen a 71 percent drop in infant fatality rates from vehicle crashes, thanks to the proper use of car seats. For . . .

Read more

San Diego Family Magazine Logo

Be Family Informed – Sign up for our Newsletters below!