What To Do When Your Pre-Toddler is Taking a Short Morning Nap

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Get the answers you need when when your 12-18 month old is taking a short morning nap. Should you drop the nap? Should you shorten the nap? Read on.

Pretoddler laughing in the crib

When your child in the 12-18 month age range is waking early from naps, you are left wondering not just “how to do I fix this?” but “should I fix it OR should I drop the nap altogether?”

This post takes you through what to do when your pre-toddler is waking early from the morning nap.

First, if your child is waking early from his morning nap and is under 14 months old, be sure to see Dropping the Morning Nap (from 2-1 naps) Transition Time.

What To Do When Your Pre-Toddler is Waking Early from Morning Nap | toddler naps | naps | #toddlernaps

How to Fix Short Toddler Naps

On Becoming Pre-Toddlerwise has some helpful ideas for dealing with early waking from naps found on page 80. Here are their suggestions along with my method of diagnosis.

Of course, your first job is to find out why your child is waking early.

Think About a Change in the Schedule

First, think through your days since your baby started waking early. Is there anything that has changed at all? If so, try to get things back to where they were before things changed.

For example, as Pre-Toddlerwise asks, has their been a change in the environment? What kinds of noises are going on outside? What is the temperature in your home? What noises are going on inside?

Another example from Pre-Toddlerwise is has there been a change in your routine? Have you been going out in the mornings, or started staying in in the mornings? Has your child started going down at a different time? Is he waking in the morning earlier or later than he used to?

Another example from Pre-Toddlerwise is to evaluate food intake. Some children this age start to not eat as much at breakfast because they are anxious to go play. This is a tricky one to evaluate because after age one, most children dramatically decrease the amount of food they eat, so less food might not necessarily be your culprit, but it is definitely something to consider. You child might be in need of more solids.

I would add–is your child sick at all? Teething?

For more on this idea of what has changed, see my post Problem Solving Tip: What Has Changed?


Read: 5 Ways Season Changes Disrupt Your Child’s Sleep


Think About a Needed Change in the Schedule

If you feel like nothing has changed, then it is time to evaluate what might need to change. If everything is the same, it is a good indicator that something needs to change.

The first thing to look at is waketime length. You most likely need to experiment with morning waketime length before nap. You can make the time longer before nap, you can shorten your nap, or you can do both. For more on this, see Dropping the Morning Nap (from 2-1 naps) Transition Timet.

Pre-Toddlerwise points out the need to evaluate the 24 hour sleep period. If your child is getting too much night sleep, he won’t need as long of naps in the day.

Find the right balance between night sleep (10-12 hours) and day sleep (3-4 hours). There can be some variance–some of my children have needed more sleep than others. So be sure to go with what you feel is correct for your individual child.

New Skills

Is your little one working on new skills? Learning to walk or talk? Those new skills might be disrupting sleep. Read this post to figure out how to stop the new skills from disrupting baby’s sleep.

Conclusion

This can be a hard transition period. Baby isn’t quite ready to go to one nap, but also two naps seem to be too much. If working with waketime and naptime length doesn’t help things, just don’t let it stress you.

I find even if your little pretoddler is laying in bed for a while awake, it is more restful than if he/she is up interacting with the family. So long as your little one is happy, a rest time in bed is better than nothing.

And the good news is that as your little one gets older, you are moving closer to one nap time, which is the very best and something to look forward to!

Pretoddler short morning nap pinnable image

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