Sometime between one and two, the issue of toddler naps gets a bit blurry, says occupational therapist Meg Faure. Should they drop just one nap a day or drop naps completely?
JUST WHEN YOU feel like you are on top of your little one’s day sleep schedule, things will indubitably change. There are ages when this typically happens, for instance at nine months, many babies start to drop their late afternoon sleep. So your little one goes from three sleeps a day down to two sleeps and has to stretch his awake time in the late afternoon to make it all the way to bedtime. These stages are called cusp ages and are typically when your baby starts to drop a day sleep.
TIME TO CHANGE
In the toddler years, the first cusp age is at 12 to 14 months. At around a year of age, your baby will probably still be having two daytime sleeps – a midmorning sleep of about 45 to 90 minutes and an early afternoon sleep of up to two hours.
When your toddler starts to refuse to fall asleep or plays in his cot for an hour in the afternoon before falling asleep or demanding to be picked up, he has probably reached a cusp age. To manage this cusp age, drop the morning nap and put your toddler down at 11am for a good two-hour sleep. Offer a substantial snack or even mini-lunch at 10:30 and then put him down at 11am. The difficult part is that when he wakes, he will need to stay awake until bedtime. Since a one-year-old still needs a little more sleep than this, alternate the days of one sleep with days of two sleeps until he copes better with the new routine of one midday sleep.
MOVE A NAP TO LATER
From 18 months you can move the single day sleep a little later – to after lunch. Offer lunch at 11:30 and put your toddler down at 12pm. This routine will stay the same all the way throughout your child’s toddler years.
SAY GOODBYE TO THE NAP
The question about when to drop day sleeps altogether cannot be answered rigidly as every little one is different. Some three-year-olds drop their day sleeps and cope well until bedtime and some preschoolers need that day sleep all the way to five years. Follow your toddler’s lead on when to drop this sleep. The signs that he is ready to drop a sleep are when your toddler lies awake at day sleep time chatting for an hour or if he can’t fall asleep at night until after 8pm, having been put down at 7pm. YB
THE DIFFICULT PART IS THAT WHEN HE WAKES, HE WILL NEED TO STAY AWAKE UNTIL BEDTIME