The ideal age that a child moves to one nap is between 14-18 months. By this age, your child can likely tolerate wakeful periods of 4-6 hours. There are some scenarios in which a child will drop to one nap earlier - sometimes it’s due to daycare schedules, or a child is consistently refusing one of their two naps. The transition to one nap/day can often be the hardest transition. It may take up to a month to really shuffle out. We hope that the nap is at least 2 hours, but if you’re not getting that length, we can always opt for an early bedtime. Do your best to be consistent with the schedule and give your little toddler time and space to get back to sleep if they wake early in the nap.
The best time to start the nap is 12-1p. You may find, though, when you start on the one nap schedule that your child just can’t make it to noon. It’s ok to start the nap early (11:15/11:30a) and opt for an early bedtime (as early as 5:30p). Our children get their most restorative sleep in the first half of the night, so putting them down for bed early will help them to catch up on any lost sleep from the day and get them that good quality deep sleep. Over a few weeks, you can gradually push the start of the nap a little later so that you’re starting to get to at least noon.
And how long does this one nap schedule last until… drum roll… NO NAP?! We really want to try and keep some nap through to age 3. You may find that around 2 years of age, there’s some resistance to nap time but try to stay consistent and give time and space for your child to get to sleep. After 3 years of age, or when you feel your child is consistently protesting the nap or not needing it, I encourage you to offer quiet time, for at least an hour. This provides some time for your toddler to get some time to restore their minds and bodies. Set them up with books, quiet activities/toys and a lowly lit “darkish” room. Ideally this can be an independent quiet hour where you can leave them on their own. Try to have a gate across the doorway if they keep coming out. As you transition to no nap, you will likely need to offer an early bedtime (as early as 5:30p) before your toddler crosses to the point of being overtired, hyperactive and unable to fall asleep until later.
If you are encountering challenges with your toddler’s sleep schedule and need some extreme help, let’s connect. I love working on toddler sleep - I’ve had to work through a number of toddler challenges myself so I had some great strategies.