Our pediatrician told me that children are generally ready to drop the morning nap around 15 months, but the age varies from child to child – as with most things. My nephew went to 1 nap at 11 months, and I’ve heard of 2 year olds still taking 2 naps. Henry is 14 1/2 months and in transition between 2 naps and 1 nap.
Around Christmas last year I mentioned on BITW that 12-month-old Henry was transitioning to 1 nap without much drama. I jinxed it. For a week leading up to Christmas, his naps were inconsistent and he fought his afternoon naps. Due to my school-nerd ways, I remembered reading that protesting the afternoon nap is a telltale sign that baby is ready to transition to 1 nap. The first transition day we tried one nap, he awoke at 7:30, took 1 nap from 11-1:30, was generally pleasant all day and went to bed at 7:30. Unfortunately, our easy-going happy baby disappeared after that. For the next 2 months, Henry was cranky, whiny, clingy, had little appetite and was generally difficult. I spent many hours on the toilet, lying awake in bed, driving the car, and staring blankly out the window thinking about why this was happening.
After 2 months of inconsistent napping, I re-evaluated my decision to transition Henry to 1 nap. I re-read the Weisbluth and Ferber books. My reading comprehension is poor and I knew there was a good chance I was wrong about the “telltale signs.” Upon re-reading the books I decided that Henry wasn’t ready to transition to 1 nap. It was no coincidence that his chipper personality disappeared around the same time we changed his schedule. I put him back on his old 2-nap schedule, and he magically returned to our happy go-lucky son. I think that Henry’s inconsistent napping the week before Christmas was a result of having family in town, which meant he was off schedule and sleeping in places other than his own crib. After the New Year he had a terrible cold for 2 weeks, which he passed to me – likely through one of his boogery slobbery kisses.
The books talk about parent-led parenting and baby-led parenting, and I think most of us fall in the realm between these two extremes. Before I sleep trained Henry, I charted his sleep patterns and then stuck firmly to the patterns he exhibited. I generally don’t push him to do things before he is ready. If we try something a few times and he’s clearly not interested or upset, I let it pass and return to it a few days or weeks later. This philosophy may stem from the fact that we started solid foods on the early side (4 months), and I discovered his dairy allergy around 5 months (with the OK from the pediatrician). I always wonder if he would’ve exhibited an allergy had I held off on dairy until 8 months (the book-recommended time).
Everyone told me that the 1 nap transition is hard, and he would eventually get the hang of it. They were right. Henry’s schedule now entails taking 2 naps for 3 days and 1 nap the 4th day. This schedule depends on what time he wakes in the mornings. If he wakes before 7:30, he has 2 naps, but if he wakes after 7:30, he takes 1 nap. We will probably stick to this schedule for another month or two before he’s truly ready to quit the morning nap.
During the failed transition, per Dr. Weisbluth’s advice, I attempted to gradually push Henry’s morning nap later and later. Through experimenting, I learned that Henry likes to take his one nap earlier than most kids (generally parents split the day evenly with a nap from around 12-2).
When Henry was a newborn I avoided experimentation and change with sleep schedules, feedings, etc. But after a few experiments with varied schedules, foods, etc., I’ve learned that he’s going to be OK. And a little short-term experimenting can have long-term benefits.