As your toddler grows up, their sleep rhythm will change over time, going from two long periods of sleep to a single nap a day. This is what experts and experienced mothers have to say about the best timing of your toddler’s naps during the day. In addition, a few tips to make the transition from two to one sleep period easier.
“A rough guideline is that babies somewhere between the ages of 15 and 21 months, should switch from 2 naps to just one nap a day,” says Madhavi Kapoor, a paediatrician at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital in New York. “According to the expert, the transition can be slow,” says Hannah Chow, paediatrician and co-director of the Loyola Center for Health in North Riverside, Illinois. She indicates that a child may also begin to transition sooner. For example, as early as 12 months. “Some babies get through the day with just one nap, but others will really need two naps.
This is what experts and experienced mothers have to say about the best timing of your toddler’s naps during the day. In addition, a few tips to make the transition from two to one sleep period easier.
Small power naps can help
“If I notice that my little one takes more than 20 minutes to fall asleep in the morning, I often just let her fall asleep just before lunch. That way the sleeping rhythm shifts to after lunch and then she can sleep a little longer in the afternoon. If she does sleep well in the morning, I only let her fall asleep in the afternoon during this transitional period, and then put her to sleep a little earlier in the evening. A little drive to the shop works very well to let her doze off!”
Let your child guide you
Another tip is to let the child indicate what he or she needs. A mother says: “Personally, I think the child decides when they are ready to take a nap. None of the children have ever been able to stick to my sleep schedule. They always decide for themselves.”
The third tip is to make the afternoon nap longer. “My children made the step from two to one nap one day when they were between 1 and 1 and a half years old,” says another mother. “You’ll notice if they stay alert for longer. You can go out with them for 3 or 4 hours without them getting overly tired.” Normally, the morning nap will be the first to go, because children just aren’t tired enough to get to sleep so early in the day. That’s when a long afternoon nap can work wonders. “Mine stayed asleep in the afternoon, even in kindergarten.”
Every child is different
The point is that every child is different. One child simply needs more sleep than the other. However, generally the morning nap will be the first to go. Then you can switch to a long nap in the afternoon, which becomes shorter after a few months. At some point, you will notice that your toddler doesn’t sleep at all anymore, but only starts to play in his or her bed.