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Transition: From Two naps to One

While children will often give us lots of cues and clues on when they are ready to transition into a new schedule, it sure does help us mamas to get perspective from the experiences of mamas who have "been there, done that".  Can you share your thoughts with Sharon?

I would love to get feedback from other moms about the 2-to-1 nap transition.  My son just turned 1 year.  He has taken a morning nap and afternoon nap consistently since birth.  I read in all the books that about 12 -18 months, kids usually give up the morning nap and go to one longer nap, usually after lunchtime.  My questions:  What did this look like for your kid?  Did you let your little one find this new nap pattern himself, or did you initiate it?  If so, how? 


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We just dropped to 1 nap recently (19 months old). It was a slow, sometimes painful process over the last 6 months.

I've always put DD down for naps when she appeared to need them (overly sensitive, moody, rubbing eyes, etc). Sometimes that meant 3, sometimes only 2.

I found that in the recent months, her need for a nap stretched out longer. The painful part was (sometimes still is) that she didn't want or feel the need for a nap and would fight me to the point where I knew she wouldn't go down and I wouldn't force it. In the beginning, one nap really wasn't enough and I'd end up with a little monster on my hands later in the day, even after a solid afternoon nap. Sometimes I could sneak in a 15 minute catnap around 4:30 in the afternoon but frequently not. Eventually this stage passed and now we're solidly on a 1 nap schedule except for occasions when she has a rough night or wakes too early in the morning.

Both of my sons were in day care three days a week for this transition. When they hit 13-14 months and were moved from the infant room (where you sleep in a crib whenever you want) to the wobbler room (where you sleep on a mat on the floor for one nap a day) they made the switch at home too. I always thought it was probably a wee bit early, but I have to say that the single, longer nap at home was a bit easier logistically for our family.

My daughter initiated it by talking/yelling through one nap per day. When that started happening more often than not, I switched from a mid-morning and mid-afternoon schedule to a just-after-lunch nap. There was a short period of cranky, weepy days, but after a week or two she was fully adjusted.

Good luck!

I started transition to one nap when my daughter would willingly go down for morning nap but then refuse afternoon nap. I would try for ages but she wouldn't sleep which would mean she was sometimes awake from 11am till 7pm. Not a good thing. So, I started gradually pushing morning nap a little later each day until she was going down some time between 12 and 1. My understanding is that 12 months is way early for that change and that it is usually more around 15-18 months that it happens. Good luck.

My daughter transitioned by herself and it was fairly quick and easy. Her naps just started getting consistently very short, and then she started pushing off the morning nap later and later. My husband (the stay at home dad) has always been good at reading her cues and never tried to force her to go to sleep if she wasn't acting sleepy. Eventually her sleepy cues just started coming later and later until one day we were just there at the one nap a day stage.

For us, it was all about knowing our child's sleepy cues and letting her lead the way to a later, longer nap.

Good luck!

My son moved from 2 naps to 1 at about 9 months of age! At first he just dropped the afternoon nap. I saw several things when this was happening:

1) he would just miss it -- we were out and about or had a fun activity he wanted to be engaged in

2) it was difficult to get him to sleep for his second nap. I found myself trying harder to actually get him to sleep and then if he did fall asleep he would wake up quickly

3) he would sleep longer with his first nap

4) if he napped in the afternoon his bedtime was all out of whack. He would have trouble falling asleep at night and be up really late!

It was when the last thing (getting a goofed up bedtime occured) that I finally realized and resigned myself to the fact that he was really giving up his second nap. Then I began to actively encourage him to drop the second nap and make the first nap later.

If it was after 3 or 4 in the afternoon, if he showed signs of falling asleep I would actively engage him in an acitivity to keep him awake. Sometimes it was playing, other times I would take him to the store. This helped set a more reasonable bedtime too!

Then for the morning nap if we had an activity in the morning (like swimming) I would take him shopping afterwards to keep him awake a little longer too. Or if we came home, I would offer him solids first instead of nursing. Slowly over a period of months, he adjusted his nap to be sometime after lunch and longer (2-3 hours).

Also, just to mention it, since he has been a 1 nap kid for almost 1 year (he's 18 months now) what I do see is that the start time of the nap is variable. It all depends on whether he had big activity in the morning (physical exercise or visiting friends), how well his night-time went, what time he got up, teething, colds, etc. So instead of picking a time (nap time is 1 oclock!) I really try and tune into his cues on when he is ready. Sometime it's 11:30, but other times it's closer to 1. Most times we get some kind of lunch in, but other times we just have a piece of cheese for a snack.

Happy napping!


The transition to one nap was kind of an iterative process for us and took a few months. I'd say our little guy was really down to one nap around 16 months. The first thing we noticed (maybe around 13 or 14 months) was that he was frequently unable to take his afternoon nap when he took a long morning nap (2 hrs or so in the a.m.)--he just wouldn't fall asleep when we put him down as usual in the afternoon. So our first step was to limit his morning nap, first to an hour and a half, and later, to just an hour (we'd wake him gently). With the shorter morning nap, he returned to being able to take the afternoon nap.

Eventually, though, he started to have trouble falling asleep for that shortened morning nap. At that point, we started putting him down midday (around 12 or 12:30) for just one nap. He adjusted pretty well, though I've found that he often falls asleep if I have him out in the stroller or the car in the late morning (a little before 11, or later)--and if that happens, he typically won't take his afternoon nap. I've heard that other mamas have had the same experience. So I'd recommend preventing any little morning snoozes once your little one transitions to just one nap.

Having just one nap period really does free up the mornings, when a lot of toddler activities happen, so that's nice. But I do miss having some time to nap myself in the mornings if I need it--and if our little guy fails his one nap, well, that's it for the day. But luckily, that's fairly rare. Best of luck with the transition!

From about 9-12 months, my daughter took 2 half-hour naps/day pretty consistently. I was dying to get her to 1 nap/day so that I could have a longer chunk of time to get things done during the day. After talking to the pediatrician at her 12 month appt, I decided to try 1 nap/day, and as I recall, it went pretty smoothly. I think that I gradually pushed her morning nap later and later until she was napping late enough that she didn't need an afternoon nap. Granted, there are still times when she'll sleep in the car or stroller for 15 minutes here or there as well, or sometimes that's all she'll sleep during the day. I've never been hung up on an absolute nap schedule, and pretty much just put her down when she seems to be tired in the afternoon. Now, at just a bit over 2 years old, she takes 1 nap/day, which usually is only 45 minutes to 1 hour long, and a lot of times she won't go down until 2:30 or 3 in the afternoon. She also occassionally has days without a nap, although I try to avoid that if I can.

As a mom who would love to have two naps a day again, my first suggestion is not to rush it! That said, my first took two naps for a much longer time than the second. With the second, he slept on the go in the mornings while we did activities with the eldest, and it was a relief to have them both on the same one-nap schedule. I don't remember the age of going to one nap for the oldest, but it was probably 15-16 months. He stopped being ready to take the morning nap by 10:00ish so I just started pushing it later and later until it started happening after lunch. I phased out the afternoon nap by not putting him down for it but taking a walk or planning a short trip somewhere so he could take a brief snooze in the stroller or car to get over the hurdle of the afternoon. Once he was solidly down to the one nap, we didn't need to do that any longer. Now he doesn't nap at all, and I'm so sad!

Our 16 month old son Isaac, seems to be starting the transition from 2 -1 naps, and I'm not sure how to deal with it/ease the transition. Any help/advise would be greatly appreciated! Isaac has been an awesome, highly predictable napper since he as about 6 months old. 1-1&1/2 hours in the am starting around 10, and then 1&1/2-2&1/2 in the afternoon starting around 3.

All of a sudden, this week, his am naps have spanned from none to 1 hour max, some only 30-45 min., and if we're lucky, 2 hours in the afternoon, but more realistically, they've been closer to 1-1 &1/2, some as short as 3-45min.

he's been really cranky each afternoon, as this is a kid who needs his sleep. Does this sound like he's starting to transition to 1 nap? Any advise as to how we can help smooth the transition? Do most kids on 1 nap nap in the mid afternoon, or late afternoon?

Any help would be great!

We're right in the middle of this transition. My 13mo was doing two one-and-a-half hour naps a day, but at 12mo started shortening up the afternoon nap to 30-45 min. (The morning nap stayed the same). We decided to transition this week because even though she would still take two naps, she really fought both and I felt like they were getting less productive for her. So we've pushed the nap out to as close to 1230 as we can; some days, we only make it to 1130. She's generally been sleeping a little over 2 hours at that nap, and thus gets an early bedtime, usually 630. She's been very cranky/teary from 1030-1130 and then again at dinner, and I was beginning to question whether the one-nap plan was a good idea. I'm glad to see a hard transition isn't that uncommon and there may be a light at the end of the tunnel!

I have been having a terrible time transitioning my 14 1/2 month old to one nap. She showed signs of being ready about a month ago because she wasn't acting tired as early, so her nap got pushed later so that a 2nd nap wouldn't be possible because it woule be too late in the day. However, she will not take a long nap. Some days it's only 30 or 40 minutes and then she might fall asleep in the car later on which is not a habit I want to form. I have literally tried everything...keeping her up later, putting her down earlier, lots of morning stimulation, lunch before, lunch after. I've even tried to go back to 2 naps, but she won't take the 2nd nap. I am at a total loss and very frustrated. It is comforting to know that this is a tough transition, generally. My girl used to be such a good napper...what happened?? HElp!!

Kerry, I see that your post was back in April - My little one is about the age of your daughter in your post - how are things now? Your situation sounds a lot like mine - any suggestions - when and how long is she napping now? Any help is appreciated.

Hi Kerry and Aimee,

I'm where you all are with my 14.5 year old. You're entry sounds exactly like what I'm going through. I've tried it all too. Any words of wisdom? Did you find something that finally worked?

i'm also wondering if napping changes when the child begins to walk? my son is just learning and refuses to take an afternoon nap - I've tried everything too Kerry! the past three days he's been taking a morning nap (at 9) for about an hour and a half and then skips the afternoon nap and wants to sleep at 6 pm; wakes up about every hour or so until I finally go to sleep beside him and the cycle continues the next day...

disclaimer: I do still nurse & we've co-slept since birth (we have a floor bed - so since crawling he's been able to freely get in and out)

My son took two, 75-minute, consistent naps per day around 10:30 and 4 until he was 14-months. At that time, he began to cry for about 30 min when I put him in for the second nap, sleep for only about 30 min, wake up crying, and continue to be cranky until after dinner. His bed time was pushed to 8:30 and, although he would then go to bed, he didn't act very sleepy. We thought it might be time to lose the afternoon nap since it seemed to do more harm than good, and since his morning nap started to creep later to 11/11:30 and often be closer to 2 hours than 1. However, it's been an awful 2 weeks. My son has started to wake up CRYING at 5:30 each morning (it used to be between 6:30-7, and then he'd play happily for 30-45 min). His morning nap is now closer to 10:30, is back to being closer to one hour than two, and he starts to tire around 6 and goes to bed between 7-7:30. He now cries every night at bed time, which he never did. We also hear him crying in the middle of night, which he never did, but he usually falls back asleep on his own. Then, we start over again and he wakes up the next morning at 5:30am crying.

I miss my good sleeper and logic tells me that he's not ready to give up the second nap. His unusual crankiness and night crying seem to mean either that he's over-tired or teething (the doc said he's getting molars). He is also getting about 2 hours less sleep per day by missing the second nap and getting a little less sleep at night. However, I am forced to remind myself that he was barely taking the second nap, usually just cried for most of it, and usually wasn't tired until 5 or 6, when it seems too late for a nap.

I am very comforted to hear a lot of other moms have similar problems. I am thinking of trying to either force a second nap, slowly push the morning nap later to between 12-1 and hope it gets longer, or move bedtime earlier to 7 (although then I fear he'll wake even earlier). Any advice is appreciated.

We are in the middle of this transition as well with our 16 month old. Some days she takes both morning and afternoon naps up to 2 hrs. Lately, it has become more and more difficult to get her to go down, but she sleeps well when she does. She has also started waking up in the middle of the night crying. About once a week she refuses to take her morning nap on time, so on those days we switch to just 1 nap. This makes the evening extremely difficult because she gets so tired. However, I do think she is in her own way, telling us she is ready for 1 longer nap.

I am going to start pushing her morning nap until 12 or 12:30 and hope she sleeps until 2:30 or 3. I am hopeful this will improve her night time sleep and she will go down for her nap more easily. Oh - she consistently goes to bed around 7:30 and sleeps until 7 or 7:30am.

Good luck to you all! I know it is so difficult and those naps are valuable.

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My 12 month- old son took two naps daily happily. A morning nap around 10am-12:00ish and arvo nap 2:45pm-4:0pish. The last two weeks he goes down but fights it for a while for the morn nap and only sleeps 1 hour-1/1/2 hours and he really fights the arvo nap of only 30-45mins. He has been cranky, clingy, too upset to eat and just not his usual happy self. Bedtime is 7pm and he sleeps through till 7:30am. I think he is too young and not ready for one
nap. Please help- any suggestions or anyone in the same situation??????

My son (almost 15 months) has transitioned himself into 1 nap a day. Sometimes he'll take a catnap around 4:30-5, but usually not. My goal while my son is up is to keep him stimulated! We go for walks, play with toys, visit friends, go to the playground, watch a little Sesame Street/Dora/whatever...anything that keeps him focused and using up energy! It's harder some days, but other days like today, it's a breeze. We also have a sleeptime routine that we follow very closely. He knows when I'm putting him down for a rest, and if he's not tired, he lets me know right away. I listen to his cues and decide if I think he needs a little nap or not. If not, then he comes back out and we play some more.

My 14 month old son has always taken 2 naps with ease, but recently started sleeping from 7:30 or 8pm until at least 9am, sometimes later! A dream, I know, but really screws up fitting in 2 naps being as I don't want to put him to sleep later than 8pm. So, I have started to transition him to 1 nap. I have tried for almost a week and he has slept for a little over an hour each nap. This obviously makes him a cranky mess by dinner time. Should I continue to try and be patient, or, wake him earlier in the morning to fit in 2 naps? I really don't want to do that, by the way :) Advice, please!!

I recommend to anyone needing infant sleep advice/nap advice to read Dr. Weissbluth's book, HEALTHY SLEEP HABITS, HAPPY CHILD. It has been a lifesaver! It was recommended to me by a few people and I was hesitant at first, but have found it to be very helpful!

My 13 month old girl is so hard to figure out these days 1 day she wants 2 naps a next it's only 1. I wish it was easier. She sleeps 11 hours a night and still has bags under her eyes when she wakes up. I have been wondering if it is allergies. I am just waiting for her appointment to be tested with the naturapath doctor. She is on formula still cause she is sensitive to dairy.

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