Shifting Schedules – When to Change from Two Naps to One Nap

Signs That Your Child Is Ready to Change to ONE DAILY NAP:
  • When you put your child down for a nap he plays or fusses before falling asleep, and then takes only a short nap, or never falls asleep at all.
  • Your child can go for car rides early in the day and not fall asleep in the car.
  • When your child misses a nap he is cheerful and energetic until the next nap or bedtime.
  • Your child naps well for one of his naps, but totally resists the other nap.
How to Make the Transition When Signs Point to Change:

Instead of thinking in terms of dropping a nap, it’s better to think in terms of a schedule change. The change from two naps to one nap is rarely a one-day occurrence. Most often there will be a transition period of several months when your child clearly needs two naps on some days, but one nap on others. You have a number of options during this complicated transition time:

  • Watch for your child’s sleepy signs, and put your child down for a nap when indications first appear.
  • Keep two naps, but don’t require that your child sleep at both times, allow quiet resting instead.
  • Choose a single naptime that is later than the usual morning nap, but not as late as the afternoon nap. Keep your child active (and outside if possible) until about 30 minutes before the time you have chosen.
  • On days when a nap occurs early in the day, move bedtime earlier by 30 minutes to an hour to minimize the length of time between nap and bedtime.
The Danger of Dropping a Nap Too Soon

It’s my belief that the reputation that toddlers have which is known as the “Terrible Twos,” is very likely caused by inappropriate napping schedules. There are a great number of toddlers who switch from two naps a day to one nap, or – heaven forbid! – drop naps altogether, many months before they are biologically ready. This can result in a devastating effect on their mood and behavior: the dreaded and horrible “Terrible Twos.”

For those parents whose children suffer the “Trying Threes” or the “Fearsome Fours,” it’s likely your child is misbehaving for the same reason: an inappropriate nap schedule may be the culprit. The good news is that a modification of your child’s napping routine can make a wonderful and dramatic difference in his day – and yours.

From The No-Cry Nap Solution: Guaranteed Gentle Ways to Solve All Your Naptime Problems by Elizabeth Pantley (McGraw-Hill, January 2009). Here is the link for information and more excerpts:

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