"How do I tell if my baby is ready to move to one nap a day?"
I find that a good average age for moving from two naps to one is somewhere around the 13th month. Now, I have seen babies go as early as nine months, and I've also seen babies hang on to two naps a day until the 17th or 18th month. The majority, however, move to one nap a little after their first birthday.
Here is what to watch for...Your baby is happily continuing to take her morning nap. In fact, the morning nap might be longer than it has ever been. The trouble arrives when you put her down for that afternoon nap, and she just won't take it. Either she plays all the way through it or she alternates between playing and some crying or she just flat out starts to cry from out of nowhere. Those are some things that you'll start to see.
Now, the tricky part about all of this is that those signs won't show up every single day. You'll find that you will have three or four times in a row where she doesn't take her afternoon nap, and you'll start to think to yourself, "OK, it must be time to drop that nap," and then for three days in a row, she takes both naps beautifully. That can really throw people off.
A good rule of thumb is if you notice this happening at least five days a week, then it is a good sign that it's probably time to make the switch. Also, this needs to be going on for at least two to three weeks because it can just be a developmental milestone. If she's learning a new skill, it can throw nap time off for a week or two.
So is it time to make the switch?
If this has been happening four or five times a week, at least two to three weeks of length, then you can go ahead and make the switch.
Now, a little bit of caution of making the switch. You can't just jump from a 10 o'clock nap to, all of a sudden, a one o'clock nap. That would be too hard on her body clock and she would get so overtired that by the time you try for that nap, it's going to be trouble.
My advice is that you slowly start to move the morning nap down by 30 minutes every three days. If it is at 10 o'clock, you move it to 10:30 for three days, then you move it to 11:00 for three days, 11:30 and so on, until it hits about 12:30.
I find 12:30 is the perfect time for a one nap day. She can have her lunch and go straight into her nap!
If your baby is getting tired in the afternoon, a quick catnap in the car or stroller is okay to help her take the edge off until bedtime! You may also need to move bedtime up slightly during the transition.
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