Most children are ready to give up their morning nap between 15 and 18 months, although some children are ready a little sooner or a little later. You should try to make the transition as smooth as possible, but most children take a couple of weeks to a couple of months to fully adjust.
You shouldn’t switch to one nap until your child is sleeping through the night. Make sure she is consistently getting 10 to 11 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night. If she’s not, work on improving nighttime sleep before you make the nap change.
The first step in making this transition is to make sure that your child is absolutely ready. Besides consistently sleeping through the night, here are some other signs that will help you decide whether or not to drop the morning nap:
- She will simply stop taking one of her naps regularly. (This is the most common sign.)
- When you put her down for a nap, she plays or fusses for at least 30 minutes before falling asleep. Then, she takes only a short nap.
- She can go for car rides early in the day without falling asleep.
- She can miss a nap and remain cheerful and energetic until her next nap, or bedtime.
- She is restless at bedtime.
Toddlers will have days where they skip a nap here or there, but don’t assume that she is ready to totally forego the morning nap until you see the above signs for at least 10 to 14 days straight. Then you can start the process of dropping her morning nap. But you don’t just drop the nap all of sudden. You start to slowly push it later in the morning. It should take around 7 to 10 days.
1. Gradually push her morning nap later—until around 11:00 a.m. for a few days, then 11:30 for a few days, then noon, and so on. Your goal is for the afternoon nap to start between 12:30 and 1:00.
2. It is very common during this transition for your toddler to sleep only an hour and wake up tired. If this happens, try to soothe and resettle her back to sleep. If all else fails, give her an emergency nap in the car or stroller.
3. Don’t let her sleep past about 3:00 p.m., so as not to disrupt her bedtime.
4. Try to get your child to bed earlier than usual during the transition—like 7:00 p.m.
5. If your child seems too tired one day during the transition, it’s okay to let her nap twice—just limit the morning nap to 45 minutes. Some days she may need 2 naps until she adjusts.