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The AAP has issued new safe sleep guidelines. Learn more.

How to Transition from 2 Naps to 1

Around the time you find a consistent routine with your little one, everything changes.

He grows.

Her personality emerges.

He’s saying a few words.

She’s starting to walk.

All sorts of changes are on the horizon. One of the biggest challenges: transitioning to ONE nap from two naps!

If you're struggling to transition to one nap from two naps, we have some expert tips to help you through the process, so that you and your baby can both fall asleep easier at nap time and at bedtime.

Meet our expert

Cara Dumaplin

Baby sleep expert, neonatal nurse, mom of 4, founder of Taking Cara Babies 

These 5 steps can set you up for success:

1. Recognize the signs that your little one is ready

Your baby may be ready to transition to one nap from two naps if they are between 13-18 months AND for the last few weeks:

  • have had trouble falling asleep at nap time and/or bedtime
  • started to regularly protest or refuse the second nap
  • struggled to fall asleep for short naps
  • required a late bedtime in order to fit both a morning nap and an afternoon nap into the day
  • experienced early morning wake-ups frequently

For babies younger than 12 months, it’s rarely time to transition to one nap from two naps.

Instead, if you see the signs, try making your baby’s morning nap only a short nap to see if this helps resolve some of your baby sleep issues.

If your little one is in daycare, we understand that the nap schedule may be out of your control. That’s okay!

Trust your daycare workers with baby's daytime sleep and know that you can control night sleep. (See Number 4 below.)

Still having trouble knowing whether it’s time? Here are the signs it's time to drop a nap.

2. Gradually shift the nap schedule

The goal with a one nap transition is for the morning nap to happen about half way through the day. Typically, this morning nap begins around 11:30am to 12:00pm, falling for most babies 5-6 hours after waking in the morning.

Asking your baby to have 5 - 6 hours of awake time may feel like a HUGE change to her sleep cycle if she has been having a morning nap within 3 hours of wake-up (as is common with a two nap schedule).

Instead of making that one nap transition all at once, we want to gradually shift the morning nap later and later.

We can do that by adding 15-30 minutes of extra awake time before the morning nap every few days, so that the nap transition can happen over a few weeks.

Here are ​some techniques parents use to help baby make it to that later nap time in the one nap schedule.


3. Provide a wind-down routine to help baby fall asleep

Just like a bedtime routine helps prepare a baby for a good night’s sleep, a predictable nap time routine sets your little one up for a restorative nap.

A nap time routine doesn’t have to be complicated! We just want to allow 7-10 minutes to decompress before a nap, especially if you're changing to a one nap schedule.

Here’s one example: remove uncomfortable clothing, change diaper, slip into a Zen Sack™, read a book, dim the lights, and put him into the crib awake.

All of this sends cues to your little one’s brain that sleep is coming, whether it's a morning or afternoon nap!

If your little one isn’t able to fall asleep independently, Taking Cara Babies has a class that can help.

4. Adjust bedtime as needed


Our goal is for that one nap to be 2-3 hours long. After an afternoon nap ends, we want to aim for bedtime about 4-5 hours later.

If the afternoon nap is short (less than 90 minutes), you may find that your baby falls asleep before their normal bedtime, and that making bedtime earlier is a good solution.

A bedtime as early as 6-6:30pm is common during a nap transition and will help restore lost daytime sleep until that nap gets a bit longer.

If you need realistic examples of what this might look like, check out these sample schedules.

5. Stay consistent

Consistency is so important as you help shift your baby’s sleep routine. This nap transition can often take 2-4 weeks, so be patient and stay the course.

Know that moving to a one-nap schedule can be a bit challenging at first. Even with the right tools, it’s a big change!

Give your little one lots of grace… and while you’re at it- give yourself lots of grace too. The occasional two nap day isn't a big deal - you got this!

Commonly asked questions - how to transition to one nap

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