Dropping the Morning Nap Full Guide

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When do babies drop to one nap? This post walks you through all of the signs your little one is ready to transition to one nap each day. Everything you need to know for dropping the morning nap. Find out when to drop it and how to transition to one nap. Know the signs your toddler is ready for one nap.

Toddler wake in her bed

I put it off as long as I possibly could. I NEEDED that extra break each day. Since I was pregnant, moving usually meant puking, and my little pretoddler boy was a mover. But it couldn’t wait anymore. The day finally came when I had to face the music so to speak.

I had to drop my child’s morning nap. It was time to drop to one nap a day. 

And what a glorious thing it was! Not only did it make it easier to fit in everything we wanted to in a day, but it made it so he took a longer afternoon nap. That meant a longer period of rest for me as a pregnant mamma, which was just what I needed.

I have come to find that I always love moving to one nap a day. It seems scary, but it opens up life in a whole new way. You get the ENTIRE MORNING open to do things without your child needing to sleep. It often seems like an eternity since that was last possible. So while it may scare you a bit, trust me that there are fantastic things that come with the one nap schedule. 

But how do you go about dropping the nap? And how do you know baby is ready to drop to one nap? This post gives you a full guide on how to drop that morning nap and transition to one nap.

Age Range for Dropping the Morning Nap

The age range for dropping the morning nap is pretty wide. Your child will be ready between 14-22 months.

There are always outliers. There will be some 13 month olds ready and there will be some 23 month olds you are trying to convince to move to one nap.

At least once each week, I get asked essentially, “I think my 10 month old is ready to drop his morning nap. Should I do it?” 

It really is almost always a 10 month old, though sometimes it is an 11 or 12 month old. I strongly recommend against dropping the morning nap before your child is one year old. Very strongly. Usually, when people drop that nap too young, they create a sleep problem that spirals for months. 

If your child is 10 months old and seems like he needs to drop a nap, he is either experiencing a sleep regression, he needs a little more waketime before naps, he is teething, or he needs playtime to be more stimulating physically and/or mentally. There is a 10 month sleep regression around 10 months old. Always be careful you do not mistake a sleep regression for a need to change up your sleep schedule.


Read: Importance of Exercise and Stimulation for Sleep


If your child is 11-13 months old and seems like he needs to drop a nap, you are entering transition time. Baby sleep needs are still that you will need two naps a day. See my post Dropping the Morning Nap (from 2 to 1 naps): Transition Time

Transition to One Nap Time

Let’s discuss this nap transition time. Most, if not all, children go through this transition time before they are ready to fully drop the morning nap. This is true whether your child is 14 months old and starting to seem ready or 18 months old and starting to seem ready.

Younger children will likely dwell in transition time longer than older ones. Be familiar with what the transition time is and how to work with it. 

 

Signs Your Child is Ready to Drop the Morning Nap

Your child might be ready to drop the morning nap if:

  • The morning nap goes well but the afternoon nap does not. He will not sleep well during that second nap, if he sleeps at all. His afternoon nap might be turning into a cat nap instead of a regular nap. 
  • Conversely, your toddler might not sleep well for the morning nap but does sleep for the afternoon nap.
  • Your child is in the correct age range for dropping the nap.
  • Your little one can stay awake long enough to make it to the afternoon nap. If your little one just cannot make it past 10:30 AM happily, you might not be able to transition to one nap.
  • You have addressed the tricks for transition time and they are not working. 

Dropping Naps: A Quick Reference

Times for Afternoon Nap to Start

Initially, your child might need the afternoon nap to start as early as 12 or 12:30 when you go to one nap a day. If your child can’t make it past that time, you are still living in transition time. Be sure to consult that post for ideas on how to handle the transition time.

As your toddler gets used to having one nap a day, she will be able to move that one nap a little bit later in the day.

Afternoon nap for one nap a day typically starts in the 1 PM hour somewhere, but the exact time will vary based on morning wakeup time and individual child sleep needs. The child who wakes at 7 AM will likely need the afternoon nap at an earlier time than the child waking up at 8:30 AM.

You will still want to be aware of your toddler’s idea awake time before nap time should start. I had a toddler who slept really well for his afternoon nap if it started between 1:00-1:10 PM, but if it was any later, then nap did not go well. 


Read: Everything You Need to Know about Dropping Naps


Dropping the Nap Methods

Once you are ready to try dropping the nap, you might wonder how to go about it. At this point, your child has dropped a couple of naps, so the nap transitions concept isn’t totally new to you. Usually, however, the previously dropped naps happened when feedings were also dropped.

You are entering a new world with dropping the morning nap. This is the world of no nap in between feedings. Here are some methods for dropping the nap:

  • Cold Turkey: This is where you stop having a morning nap and you never look back. Again, you might start with a 12:30 nap start time but ultimately land at 1 PM after 2-4 weeks of being at one nap. Cold Turkey usually works best for the older toddlers who are dropping to one nap. If your child is 17 months or older, this is a good method for you to consider for dropping that nap.
  • Weaning Process: In a weaning process, your pre-toddler takes two naps one day, and one nap the next. You might start with 5 days a week with two naps and two with one nap. Over time, you increase the number of days that are one nap. This works well for those younger pretoddlers and children who are in transition time. It can be a difficult method because days are unpredictable, but it is effective. 

Dropping the morning nap guide Pinnable Image

Trying It Out

If you think your child might be ready for one nap, you can always give it a try. Try it for 2-3 days and reevaluate. Usually, the first day will work out fine. If it continues to go fine over the next several days, you are on the right path!

If your child falls apart or can’t stay awake after a few days, you will need to go back to transition time mentality. Sleep deficits build up over time, so that is why it can start out working fine but not be great after a few days or even after a couple of weeks.

I have had children with whom I was not completely confident they were ready to drop the nap and I had to just try it and see what happened. There is no reason to feel bad if you have to “try it” to know if it works. That is often what parenting is all about; try it out and see what happens! You can always go back to two naps if you try it and realize your little one was not ready to go to one nap.

What to Expect When Dropping the Morning Nap

Changing sleep patterns isn’t usually easy even when it is something you are ready for. Just think of how hard it is for you to change by one hour at the time change–now imagine rearranging your sleep altogether. 

Your Toddler Will Be Tired

Even a child who is ready will likely be a little tired for the first week or so. It is wise to plan your days so you are doing things your child can’t fall asleep during. Be ready to entertain your child a lot during the first week or two. If you do not, he will be falling asleep during your regular activities and then have a hard time taking the one nap a day. 


Read: How To Fill Your Toddler’s Time When Transitioning to One Nap


Adjustment Takes a Couple of Weeks

Initially, the one afternoon nap will most likely not be long. It will be 1.5-2 hours. As your child gets used to this new sleep pattern, your child will likely nap later and extend the nap to 2.5-4 hours long. The length will vary based on individual sleep needs and age.

Expect the nap to lengthen out after 1-2 weeks. Your little one might start with a one hour nap, but it should extend as he adjusts. If it doesn’t then, I recommend re-accessing if your child is really ready for one nap or if the start time of nap is best for your child. 

Bedtime Might Need to Change

You might need to move bedtime earlier, at least for a while. This nap dropping is not so much getting less sleep each day as rearranging the times the child is sleeping. If the one nap is short, your little is getting less daytime sleep and might need more night sleep. You might need bedtime moved up by 30-60 minutes to make up for the lost sleep. This bedtime can move back as your child extends the nap length during the day. 

How to transition your toddler to one nap a day Pinnable image

Conclusion

Dropping this nap will be a delight to you once it is done. You can have a nice independent playtime in the morning about the same time that first nap used to be in order to take up some of that previous nap time. You can take trips to run errands with HOURS of time available. I promise it is lovely. While I dreaded it with my oldest, I was giddy for it with my youngest. It is a great milestone! 

If you need more help with nap time, check out my eBook The Babywise Mom Nap Guide: How to Establish Successful Naps from Birth Through the Preschool Years.

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valplowman
valplowman

Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at Babywise.life, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

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2 Comments

  1. Claire Scheideman
    July 13, 2019 / 5:51 AM

    First ofr, THANK YOU for this website! I’ve used it so much!!

    I’m curious for your thoughts. My 13 month old has always been a great sleeper! For quite a while now he sleeps 8-8, is up 2 down 2, up 2 down 2 until 8pm again. Super consistent. Now he is actually sleeping MORE. He is sleeping until 9 or 10 in the morning if I dont wake him. Obviously this effects naps. Some days I’ve tried still doing 2 naps which he does fine with. But I don’t prefer bc his naps are so close to bedtime and during meals. Other days I’ve tried one nap and sometimes he sleeps 4 hours and sometimes he just sleeps 2 – if he only sleeps 2 he is very tired. I’m not sure what he needs – is this a transition time? Also this seems like A LOT of sleep!

    • July 23, 2019 / 11:44 AM

      Hello!

      Yes, this sounds like a transition time. It is super tricky and not ideal at all. You have to just roll with things more.

      I would stick with waking him in the morning consistently. That will help your daytime out a lot. That sounds like the best option.

      Until he is ready for one nap, just stick with two and do not stress out if they are not totally perfect. But it sounds like your issue is really stemming from waking up late in the morning, which you have control over. Good luck!

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