How To Drop To One Nap Without Losing Your Mind

With my firstborn, the 2-1 nap transition was challenging, to say the least. He had been a chronic cat-napper for the majority of his little life. It took MONTHS for the one nap routine to stick. We got there in the end, but with my second child I was determined to find a smoother process, and that’s exactly what we did! Each child is different, so as a parent it is vital to do what works for you, but for the sake of today’s post, I’m sharing what worked for us.

Wait It Out

I feel as though naps get a little funky after 12 months. Perhaps it is all the developmental milestones pre-toddlers are working through, but it can be tempting to try and change up the schedule in order to fix wonky naps. My advice would be to wait it out. Wait until it has been at least 2-3 weeks of consistently bad naps before you seriously consider switching to just one nap. However, if your child is just not sleeping well and you’ve tried waiting it out, then go ahead and move to the next step.

Work Out The Nap Timing

When you drop to one nap it can be nerve wrecking. If that one nap doesn’t go well, the day can turn into a disaster. Essentially, the stakes are higher. Working out your nap timing is important. I’ve heard that 5 hours from their DWT is ideal, and that is what we did with my daughter. Her first nap used to start at 9 am, so instead of that, I was going to be pushing her to stay awake until 12 pm.

Keep Them Entertained

If you’ve got a little sleepy head on your hands (like my daughter!) then it is really important to keep them entertained enough so that they don’t fall asleep too early. Luckily, my son loves to play with his little sister, so he was a good help in that department. Plan some morning activities, but be careful not to spend too much time in the car, because many children cannot overcome the urge to sleep when in their car seats.

How To Drop To One Nap Without Losing Your Mind | Use these strategies to implement the 2-1 nap transition. It can be challenging, but you can make the transition without everyone being miserable! #babywise #onenap #toddler #toddleroutine

Utilize Independent Playtime

If you’ve never heard anything about independent play, then read this post –> FIRST. What we ended up doing with Annie was having her independent playtime fall during when her first nap used to be. So, from 9-10am. During this time she has music playing and toys to entertain herself. This worked really well for us because it allowed her to have some quiet time, but the environment wasn’t set up to be conducive to sleep. In saying that, she would still often drift off for 10ish minutes during that time. It wasn’t the end of the world, and I would simply push her main nap back by 30mins or so. Even now, 3 months after making the switch, she still often falls asleep playing, but it hasn’t hurt the afternoon nap at all.

Set Your Routine + Have A Back-Up Plan

My son who is almost 3 has his nap time from 1-3pm. It is crucial for me to have my kids naps line up in the afternoon so I can have some breathing space. So, when we set up Annie’s new routine, we set it so that both she and her brother would have independent playtime from 9-10am and then she would go down for her nap at 12 pm and I would wake her at 3 pm. However, if she did happen to fall asleep during independent playtime, then I simply kept her up till 1 pm and her nap would fall over the exact same time as her older brother’s. It has worked brilliantly for us!

There were only a few days here and there where she woke early from her nap. On those days we did early bedtime, and if she was super grumpy I would try to do a trip to town as a distraction for everyone.


Until next time!

Hi! I'm Christine...a stay-at-home mum to two tiny humans. My constant focus is having my home run as smoothly as possible. Keeping two kids alive, and maintaining my sanity is also a priority. Most Saturday nights, you can find me hunkered down watching Grey's Anatomy, and hopefully nibbling on some chocolate. :)