At my toddler playgroup’s gatherings, it doesn’t take long for the chats to morph into a brainstorming session about our kids’ sleep. We’ve all come to appreciate that a well-rested child is a happy child. Toward the end of our baby’s first year, most of us had mastered a daytime routine consisting of two naps (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) averaging an hour and a half each. But around the 12-month mark, the babies began waging a mini revolt.
Toddlers tend to sleep more soundly at night than babies do, so it’s common for their napping habits to shift. “Children usually go from two naps to one sometime between ages 1 and 2,” says Harvey Karp, M.D., author of The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep. Figuring out when and how to make the move can be tricky — but you can follow this blueprint.
Look for the Signs
There are lots of ways your child may let you know his napping schedule needs tweaking. Some toddlers may take longer to nod off or become cranky when you try to put them down during the day. Others might sleep well in the morning and then resist the afternoon nap. Or your child might wake up earlier from both naps. You might also notice that when your kid misses his afternoon rest one day, he makes it to bedtime without melting down. “If you see consistent changes in your toddler’s sleep pattern for about two weeks, it may be time to transition to one nap,” says Kim West, a children’s sleep therapist and coauthor of The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight.