Jennifer Garden joins us today with tips on when to drop your toddler from two naps to one. Jennifer is the founder of Sleepdreams, a team of registered occupational therapists highly trained in the science of infant and child sleep. Without further ado….here’s Jennifer’s take on how to approach this toddler transition that happens with every child out there!
Hello North Shore parents!
When to drop from two naps to one is a common question we at Sleepdreams often receive from parents of toddlers. Sleep for children is variable but one thing for sure is that children need daytime naps… actually right up until about the 5th year of life or longer! Naps are culturally determined. In some countries, everyone naps including adults. In North America and Europe, research shows that most children nap until the age of 5. Research also informs us that most children drop from two naps to one at about 18 months of age. There is variability around this too but in general you can expect that it’ll happen around 18 months.
Is My Child Ready to Move to One Nap?
Make sure your child is ready to have one nap a day. You can tell if they are starting to shorten one of the naps or if they are not appearing tired and are not going down too easily for one of their naps. Some children can make the transition cold turkey while others need some time and that means flexibility on your part. Watch for their tired signs and what kind of a day it’s been. Have they been really active with physical play in the morning? They’ll probably need two naps and if they’ve been doing mostly quiet play, probably one nap.
What about Daycare?
If your child is in daycare and is only 12 months of age, ask the daycare if they would consider napping your child twice a day until about 18 months? Asking never hurts as most will accommodate a two nap schedule when they understand that it’s for the health and wellness of the child not to mention it’s easier to care for a well-rested child than an overtired one. If they insist on one nap a day, try to see if they need a short cat nap when you pick them up from daycare. You can always keep to a two nap schedule on the weekends as well. One key sign that your child is not getting sufficient sleep is if they fall asleep in the car on the ride to/from somewhere. This means they will still need two naps per day.
3 Tips Help with the Transition to One Nap:
Make sure they have lots of active play in their day, before their nap and afterwards. Children need to move, in particular at this age. Activities that include spinning, swinging or sliding all incorporate movements that are important for development. It helps children learn how to move their body in space and in relation to objects as well as it helps with sleep! As adults, we do not crave this type of movement but for children it’s essential. Fill their day up with a combination of this type of play and some quiet down time just before naps and bedtime. Make sure there’s no active play at least 1 hour prior to bed. Children at this age should have up to 3 hours of active play throughout their day.
Get outside to play – rain or shine – being outside helps with sleep. Given that we’re into summer, make the most of the beautiful weather and sunshine. Sunshine exposure helps to set our circadian rhythm so ensure they are out there in the morning but try to limit direct sunlight close to bedtime. Instead, use dim lighting which helps our brain release melatonin (a naturally occurring hormone in us that helps with sleep and is released during dim lighting and at night).
Don’t miss their sleep window. If you miss it, kids tend to have a hormonal response with adrenalin and cortisol (stress hormones) which make it harder for them to get to sleep. Parents may also recognize this as getting their ‘second wind’. Children love predictability so keep them on a nice routine and sleep will fall into place.
Enjoy the summer and nap times!
For more from Jennifer, check out one of her upcoming live sleep seminars:
- Bedtime Resistance: When Your Child Just Won’t Go To Bed – July 29th, 10-11:30 am at Gymboree Play & Music in North Vancouver, $25 registration fee.
- Teaching Your Baby To Sleep: Help Them Learn The Skills They Need – Aug 7th, 7:15 – 8:45pm at KidsPhysio Group in Vancouver, $25 registration fee.
And as a special treat for our followers, one lucky parent or parent-to-be will win a 45-minute phone/skype consult with Sleepdreams on one of the following three topics (winner to select what is most relevant in your life at the moment):
- Preparing for your Newborn – Setting up the physical and sensory environment, sleep expectations (how much in 24h/duration of sleep cycles/what does a sleep cycle look like) and sleep tips to care for postpartum mom (include warning signs of PPD and resources).
- Transitioning from 2 naps to 1 nap – More detailed information and ideas about when to do this, strategies about how to help with the transition, overall sleep needs, how to monitor if the transition is working well.
- Starting routines – When to start sleeping routines, how to start, what to consider from a developmental, sensory, environmental perspective. What are examples of routines? What “skills” should a child be developing in terms of sleep? How lack of sleep affects other areas of a child’s development.
Note that all entrants will be added to the Sleepdreams newsletter email list.
Get multiple entries through the Rafflecopter options below!
Contest ends at midnight on Tuesday, July 23rd. Good luck everyone!