Making the Transition from Two Naps to One

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Many people think the “terrible twos” are a symptom of a poor sleep schedule rather than an unavoidable developmental problem. A toddler’s body and brain want to stay up and explore the world, but they still need their sleep. If they drop naps too quickly, you end up with a perpetually cranky child. This might explain the “trying threes” and “fearsome fours” as well!

Always remember that a well-rested child is a happy child. It’s easier to put a baby down to sleep when she gets regular, healthy sleep. Keeping her awake doesn’t make her sleep longer at night. By the end of the first year, you’ve likely mastered the two-naps-per-day routine, but your toddler is starting to protest. Here’s how to transition to one nap.

Don’t rush them out of the two-nap phase

The nap schedule shouldn’t be about what mom or dad wants or thinks is right, but should be dictated by the child’s biology. Naps at different times serve different purposes. Morning naps help REM (dreaming) sleep, which is important for early brain development. You don’t want to force your child to give up this type of sleep if their body still needs it.

Your child still needs two naps if…

  • He is under a year old.
  • You put him down and even though he fusses, he still sleeps for more than hour.
  • He easily falls asleep in the car seat or stroller.
  • He is dealing with a life change (sickness, new sibling, new daycare, etc.).
  • He is fussy until bedtime if he misses a nap.

Look for the signs

Your child’s behavior will let you know that it’s time to adjust the nap schedule. She will behave in one or several of these ways:

  • She’ll play through the morning nap and fall asleep a little sooner for the afternoon nap.
  • She’ll fall asleep later for the morning nap and then play through the afternoon nap.
  • She’ll get cranky and irritated if you put her down when she isn’t tired.
  • She’ll miss a nap accidentally (maybe you’re shopping or something exciting happened), but stays calm through the day and goes to bed easily.

You have several options

Before eliminating a nap, consider some other options. You can fiddle with the sleep schedule a bit to find one that works for your child. For example, try keeping two separate sleep times but shortening the duration of both. This can help you through the “two-naps-is-too-much-but-one-nap-isn’t-enough” phase. Just make sure every nap is at least forty-five minutes so a sleep cycle is completed.

Never try “cold turkey”

You won’t have a two-nap child one day and a one-nap child the next. Biological changes are gradual and slow-acting. Even if your child has one-napped every day this week, look out for signs of sleepiness and offer a second nap if necessary. You could also spend what would be second nap time doing something still and quiet, like reading books in bed. If your child falls asleep, so be it. Another idea is to move bedtime earlier during the first one-nap days.

Prepare your day care provider

Make sure to be open with the day care provider about the changes in schedules. Larger schools often have different classes (or rooms) based on how the children are sleeping. If your child is one-napping at home but still two-napping at school, the schedule may be hectic to manage.

luxe floor pillowGuest Blog by Cindy Perry, Inventor of the pello, Luxe Floor Pillows

Cindy, a Texas girl, put herself through college working at a children’s library and sewing at night. When she met her husband and had her two boys, she decided to stay home to care for them while designing window treatments and bedding.

When Cindy’s first son was learning to sit up, he would always fall through the pillows she set around him, hit his head, and cry. Besides, setting her child down on the hardwood floors on just a blanket always seemed so cold. Using her years of sewing and design skills, Cindy took inspiration from a woman in her breastfeeding class and got to work. With some scrap fabric and a few tweaks, pello was born! pello is a luxe floor pillow that helps children feel safe, warm and protected.

For more information, visit

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