According to various baby sleep books and websites out there, babies fall into a nap anywhere from 10 months to 24 months. These wide age ranges and contradictions make it difficult for parents to figure out what to do. Based on my 10+ years of experience as a baby sleep counselor, the average age to go to a nap is about 14 months. This post will help you decide when to change yours baby in a nap.
While newborns sleep every 1-2 hours throughout the day, most babies will be able to stay awake for 2-3 hours to 4-5 months. And, most babies will get three sleeps by the age of 8 months, on average. This is one of the reasons why 8-month sleep regression is often more difficult as the evolution of sleep progresses.
Once your baby gets two sleeps a day, you can usually settle for a great 2 sleep program for several months. So when do babies fall asleep?
When do babies fall from 2 sleeps in one nap?
Babies usually fall into a nap when they can stay awake comfortably for at least 4-5 hours both before bed and after a nap. For most babies, this does not happen until at least 12 months, but sometimes even 10 months. In my 10+ years as a sleep counselor, I have only seen a handful of 10 months go into a nap.
However, because some babies and toddlers also learn to walk around 12 months, it is not always the best time to go for a nap. Toddlers who walk recently may become overwhelmed and wake up again at night. Also, sometimes we see a temporary regression of 12 months at the age of 11-12 months. Once this reflux is over, the babies will continue to sleep for two months for another two months.
Depending on the book you are reading, you may find that 12 months is a good time for babies to fall asleep. Many days do it this season as well. For some babies, this will work well. However, if your baby is sensitive to excessive fatigue and can not stay awake for long periods of time, this can be a disaster! We have seen it Many unfortunately over the years.
On the other hand, if your toddler is 18 months old and still taking two naps, you may be experiencing problems with insomnia or waking up early. How can you transfer your toddler to a nap when he wakes up at 5:00 a.m. More on this with the tips below.
Signs for Baby to One Nap transition
There are some definitive signs to look for before changing a baby to a nap, such as:
- Night sleep is reduced to less than 10 hours.
- Insomnia for 1.5-2 + hours at night several times a week.
- Bedtime after 9pm (unless your family has a deliberately delayed schedule.)
- Skipping one of their sleeps 4 or more times a week.
- Suddenly I get two 45 minute sleeps
Every situation is different, so depending on the specific issues you are experiencing, you may or may not want to take a nap, but these are good signs that it may be time. We do not expect to see ALL these signs. It is more likely to be just one, maybe two of them. Some babies will fall asleep in the morning and some will skip their second sleep. In my experience, the most common way is to take a second nap in the afternoon. Once this afternoon nap is too late, they often skip it.
How to go to sleep
The big question is how to successfully switch to a nap. First, recognize that all nap transitions can be abnormal. And, the transitions to sleep take 2-3 weeks, on average. If you have difficulty, it does not mean that it is not the right thing to do. However, if your baby is still struggling after 2-3 weeks, you may want to make some changes.
5 tips to put your baby to sleep:
- Start delaying your morning nap by 15-30 minutes a day and then move on to all meals, the second nap and sleep 15-30 minutes later. You will do this even if your baby woke up early for the day. If your normal bedtime is 9:00 a.m., move it to 9:30 a.m. for the day. You can move sleep every day or every other day.
- Stop waking up in the morning when your toddler stays awake for about 5 hours (and no longer).
- Keep your baby in bed for at least two hours to extend sleep. Once you go to a nap, sleep should last 2-3 hours.
- If sleep is less than two hours, move to bed earlier but not earlier than 6:00 or 6:30 p.m.
- Offer two sleeps once or twice a week. Being on a one-night stand for a day or two is one thing, but every day is another. Many babies will start to get more and more tired over a period of several days. Update for one day and then return to the new program the next day.
Falling into a nap can be difficult, so expect it to be bumpy. Once your baby or toddler adjusts, they will sleep 11-12 hours at night and 2-3 hours during the day, on average. But, what will their schedule be like after going on a nap?
What 1-Nap program should you use?
The schedule for use with a baby or toddler taking a nap will depend on your baby’s age and how long they can comfortably stay awake between bedtime periods. On average, sleep is about 5 hours after waking up for the day and sleep is 5 hours after waking up from their nap. As we approach 18-24 months, we see the wake-up period increase.
For a complete list of sample schedules, see sample toddler programs per month here!
I hope this post helps you decide when a baby falls into a nap. Falling from 2 sleeps to 1 nap is not always easy, but your baby will adjust. If you have any questions, we are here to help!
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