We did it!
Jackson is officially only taking one nap and it wasn’t quite as awful as I had built it up to be in my mind. I’ve heard horror stories for months now about how difficult the transition would be, so I was absolutely dreading it, but we made it through to the other side happier and with more free time in our day!
I did a lot of reading on this transition and here are some things I read over and over about it:
- Most kids make the switch between 15 and 18 months – though some transition as early as 12 months and some as late as 24.
- You know it’s time to switch when your child suddenly begins to fight one of their naps or seems to just not need it.
- Another good sign is when nap timing starts to change – while your baby used to be tired right at a certain time every day, now they’re able to push it a little further before needing a nap. This often messes with bedtime!
- Finally, a last good sign that it’s time to switch is when the length of the morning or afternoon nap changes dramatically, and suddenly they aren’t sleeping nearly as long.
Here’s how it looked for us – Jackson had been napping daily from 10:00-12:00 and then again from 3:00-4:30. Towards the end of the school year (in May), he stopped taking the afternoon nap at daycare. He was always okay when he got home, and while we had to push bedtime up a bit, he was fine. But at home he was still showing all signs of needing it, so we kept along with what we were doing.
Then, a few weeks ago we started to notice that, while the first nap was still solid, his second nap was looking a bit wonky. He’d roll around and play for up to 45 minutes before actually falling asleep, and sometimes he wouldn’t sleep at all. It very suddenly went from being a good, long nap to a 15-30 minute nap, tops. We knew we had to get him down to one nap before school started back up, and we wanted to get him down to one nap before our big family vacation later this summer. On top of it all, he’s 17 months old now which means he’s well within the average range for dropping down to one nap.
So, one day after a particularly short afternoon nap we decided to just go for it. We debated all of the different ways we can do it (slowly pushing the time back, still letting him take a morning nap if he seems tired, etc.) and in the end we decided that for Jackson it would be best to just go for it cold turkey. He’s a baby of routine and doesn’t love change, so we figured it would be easiest on all of us if we just make it happen.
It worked out well for us that the transition happened in the summer when we are both off of work, because it meant it was very easy for us to keep him busy in the mornings. We got into a routine of getting up and eating breakfast, then heading out for a few hours on an adventure to keep him busy and engaged. It took all of us some adjusting time to find the sweet spot between being out for a good amount of time and being out for so long he can’t stay awake on the way home, but we figured out a good routine and it helped us get through the transition as smoothly as possible. He’s now officially on a 12:30-3:30ish nap schedule, and we’re all loving it. We have more time to do the things we want to do together and aren’t stuck in the house two different times every day. We’re about two weeks into the transition, which means he still gets tired towards the end of the morning and he’s not quite fully adjusted yet, but it gets easier every day and he’s handled it beautifully!
Here are a few things we learned in this transition that we hadn’t thought about before:
– Be sure to have a morning snack on hand when you’re out and about. We were used to Jackson sleeping right up until lunch time, but now we were keeping him awake and he was hungry! The first few days, we found ourselves out somewhere with no snacks in the diaper bag and he was not a happy camper. I’ve since re-stocked the diaper bag so we are never without food during what used to be his nap time.
– You may have to push bedtime up! This may seem like a no-brainer, but I didn’t really think about it beforehand. Jackson used to go to bed at 7:00, but a few days into the switch he was so tired he started crawling up the stairs and asking for a bath at about 5:45! We’ve now pushed bedtime back up to 6:30 and he seems much happier.
– Be flexible, but respect the nap time. We have always been sticklers for Jackson’s nap schedule and have been very protective of nap times, but with this new one-nap schedule we have found a certain freedom that we aren’t used to, and we’ve had a hard time adjusting! We’ve been out somewhere close to nap time and wanted to stop at one more place before heading home and, when he was on two naps it was easy to push nap time back by 30 minutes or even an hour, but now it’s just not a good idea. We had a couple of nasty days where we decided to stay out past nap time, and we both ended up feeling terribly guilty because he was so tired, cranky, and miserable! Now we’re much more careful to get him home as close to nap time as we can so everyone stays happy.
– Be wary of naps on the go. There was a day where we wanted to go meet a long-distance friend for lunch in a town about an hour and a half away (we were meeting halfway between our two houses), and we decided to try and let Jackson nap in the car on the way there and back. He slept great on the way there (right around his old morning nap time), but then didn’t sleep at all on the way home. So, instead of a nice 2.5-3 hour nap like he has been getting, he got just under an hour of sleep in the car and was awake from 11:00 AM until bedtime. He pretty much never wakes up at night after going down, but on this night he woke up screaming two times after falling asleep, was horribly cranky the next morning, and ended up having to go down for his nap an hour earlier than usual! Lesson learned – flexible naps on the go are not for us!
– A busy toddler is a happy toddler. We do much better on days where we have him out doing something fun right up until lunch and nap time. On the days where we are home most of the morning, the day seems to drag on a bit and we all have a hard time making it until 12:30 in a good mood. We’re lucky in that we are all home right now, which makes it easy to keep him busy all morning, but even something small like running to the grocery store or the library is enough to get us out of the house and keep him engaged and active in the mornings.
What are your tips for nap transitions? Anyone else drop a morning nap lately?