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Switching From Two Naps to One

Switching From Two Naps to OneMy almost three-year-old son is giving up his nap. Sigh. On the days where he naps, he’s wide awake at bedtime, past bedtime, way past bedtime, and is still trying to jump on the bed and sing songs about weasels at 9.30pm. A few cranky afternoons excepted, he’s a happy little chap all day when he doesn’t nap. I am currently in mourning for my afternoon sleep/internet surfing session/occasional housework binge.

After having a newborn who sleeps randomly, it’s nice when baby settles into more or less of a routine of three or four naps a day. By six months, babies usually need two naps a day at fairly regular times and moms start to relax (just a little) that they have gotten the hang of this nap business.

Bar teething and colds and other things that disrupt napping, the two-nap period is usually a fairly predictable one that moms can plan other activities around, like playdates, appointments and going to the store.

Then, just once you think you have a handle on napping, it all changes. Around when babies turn one, they decide that they only need one nap a day. I have a friend who’s son quit napping altogether at 9 months and another friend with a 16-month-old who still naps twice a day, so that date is subject to change.

The transition from two naps to one can be rough. There’s mornings when baby denies that she is tired. Then is too tired to fall asleep, has a 20 minute nap and is grumpy/hyper until she crashes in the afternoon. Or baby will nap beautifully in the morning, then be wide eyed all the rest of the day, go to bed early, then wake up extremely early, and her naps the next day are thrown off. Or any other permutations of refusing to nap, napping at odd times, random nap lengths and all that kind of fun.

The two-naps-to-one transition can take a couple of weeks to get through, and oftentimes nighttime sleep is disturbed too, as baby is probably not getting the rest she needs during the day, or might be getting more than she needs and isn’t as tired at night.

The good news? Once babies settle into the one nap routine, they tend to nap for longer. A two hour afternoon nap seems to be a common pattern, and is bliss after the 40-minute naps of before. It’s the perfect length for mom to have a nap too, watch a couple of TiVo’d episodes of Lost, or surf the internet. You thought you were the only one? Internet page views have a spike mid-afternoon and I’m guessing that’s a whole load of moms emailing, hitting facebook, writing their blogs and even visiting this site (thank you) while baby naps. So I think you’ll agree that the aggravation in making the transition is well worth it.

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