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.

 

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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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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7 Comments

  1. Kristin L.
    March 19, 2012 / 7:11 PM

    I've found that Nathan's level of activity determines how good of a nap he'll take. If we had a quiet morning with more quiet play, he'd take a shorter nap. If we had a more active morning with more large motor skill play he would nap much better. Nathan was a late walker… but once he started walking on his own and has thus become much more active during his playtime, he's been taking better naps. I even have him crawl up the stairs (with me right behind him) to get to his room so he uses even more muscles to tire out before a nap. Now that its finally nice out and we've been playing outside, his naps have improved that much more! : )

  2. Kander11
    March 20, 2012 / 7:23 PM

    Help! We are having such a hard transitioning to 1 nap. My son, Charlie, has been a great napper. Now, he is 18 months. He stopped falling asleep in the morning, or if he did fall asleep in the morning, he wouldn't sleep in the afternoon. So, I slowly started moving toward 1 nap in the afternoon. But, he just won't sleep longer than 45 minutes or an hour. This has been happening for 6 weeks now. I feel like we have tried everything from changing the nap time to quiet time in the morning. I am not sure why he won't sleep any longer than 1 hour. Do you have any suggestions?

  3. Laura Fine
    March 21, 2012 / 11:31 AM

    Our son is 17 months old and for the last week he has been waking up between 3 and 4am. He has been a great sleeper since around 8 weeks old. We've tried CIO and rocking back to sleep. CIO has been awful and he will scream so hard until he makes himself sick. Because of this, his naps during the day have been around 2-3 hours each (twice a day!). Do I just keep sticking with CIO and limiting naps? He isn't sick and I don't think he has any new teeth coming in. I'm exhausted!

  4. Plowmanators
    April 4, 2012 / 4:03 AM

    Excellent comment Kristin. It is so true.

  5. Plowmanators
    April 4, 2012 / 4:03 AM

    Kander,Have you tried changing what time he goes down for his one nap?

  6. Plowmanators
    April 4, 2012 / 4:06 AM

    Laura, any time a child who has been a historically been a great sleeper suddenly starts waking and upset, I assume it is due to pain or discomfort. I first look at sickenss or teething. It seems that is usually the case. It can also be too hot or too cold when weather changes.

  7. Kelsey Curtis
    January 15, 2013 / 10:54 PM

    hi i have asked this question before and still have not got a response, so we will see if this works! My now 10 and a half month old has only been taking one nap usually around 10 am now and refuses to take an afternoon nap i lay him down and he just plays in his crib all afternoon ( i try to put him down around 2-3 ish. he is eating 3 times a day (bottle and solids) and a bottle right before bed around 7:30 he sleeps great up to 8 am. This has been going on since 8 months.. he is fine to take one nap like he isnt very fussy so is it normal for my babywise (by the book on most things) at 10 1/2 months to be only taking one nap?? and if so should i push the 2nd one?? or move around the one he has now.. ahhh please help!

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