Drop­ping off

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?

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents -

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

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