Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
194
Mini Sleep Consult: 2 Naps to 1 Nap
June 21, 2024

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Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

5th Edition: 
A Step-by-Step Program for a Good Night's Sleep

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Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

5th Edition: 
Chapter 1 (only 16 pages!) outlines everything you need to know about your child's sleep.

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Introduction

A Healthy Child Needs a Healthy Brain, A Healthy Brain Needs Healthy Sleep

Blog Posts 15, based on the United States of America Department of the Army Field Manual: Holistic Healing and Fitness, describe what really matters for your child’s sleep. If sleep is an important enough topic for national defense than surely sleep should be considered a serious topic for parenting!

Blog 194Mini Sleep Consult: 2 Naps to 1 Nap

Blog Post 159 describes the benefit of a temporary super-early bedtime helping a child sleep better.  Here is another one.

1. Dear Dr Weissbluth

My husband and I read your 5th edition book numerous times and it has helped us tremendously over the first year of our baby’s life. Our boy is almost 15 months old. Since month 13 he’s consistently refused his mid-day nap. His usual wakeup/bedtime is 6am/6pm with a 9am/1pm nap that’s usually an hour long each. Therefore, over the last 1-1.5mo we’ve been attempting to transition to one nap while moving up his bedtime earlier to 530pm and sometime as early as 515pm depending on how tired he is. We’ve tried the one nap at 10ish/10am/11am/1130am, most of these naps are crazy short 30/45min only, with a lot of sleep inertia type of behavior on waking from these naps. He’s banking solid 12-13 hours at night un-interrupted, and every 14 days or so even slightly longer at night probably from the nap debt.

Our questions are
1) does the “one” nap have to be mid-day (12/1pm) or middle of his circadian cycle (if it’s 530-530 technically falls around 10/11ish)
2) will this one nap eventually lengthen on its own to 1.5-2 hours
Any insight you may have as to what we may be doing wrong or what else we should be doing would be greatly appreciated.

MW says:

At 12 months of age, 81% of children are taking two naps per day.
At 15 months of age, 44% of children are taking two naps per day.
At 18 months of age, 23% of children are taking two naps per day.
The transition to one nap around 13 months of age is uncommon and now at almost 15 months of age and going forward, one nap is more common. There is not a single or clear strategy for you because of this wide variation of napping behavior at these ages. But not to worry because he is a great night time sleeper!
For young children, the single nap onset is always mid-day (12-2pm), so my suggestion is to entertain him and distract him as he gets short on sleep in the mid- and late-morning and try to put him down for a nap consistently around noon or as close to noon as possible for 4-5 days. Because he may be short on sleep then, extra soothing might be required. If this backfires and he gets so wound-up and upset that he refuses the single mid-day nap or this single dap is less than 30 minutes and the rest of the afternoon is a disaster, then abandon the effort. During this 4-5 day trial, the bedtime might have to be super early. How does this sound.

2. Ying says:

Thank you! Huge sigh of relief and we will continue with the effort you proposed!

3. Ying says:

Ying says: Dear Dr Weissbluth, I am following up on your recommendations to move my 15mo nap (2 to1) to mid-day. I am happy to report that today (1 week later) he went down at 1145am. The 10/1030 slump is challenging the first few days, but with practice we were able to keep him entertained/awake through it. At night he’s down around 515pm and waking up on his own past 6am, so we are very happy with his progress. The naps are still a little on the short side (45min-1 hour each), and we plan to move the nap time slightly back to noon as you suggested. It also took some trial/error to re-configure snacks/lunch time, but we are getting the hang of it. Thank you for helping us out YET AGAIN! We are TRULY GRATEFUL!!

MW says:

You are welcome. Would you be able to write a narrative report describing your journey?
As the nap gets a little later and a little longer, based on drowsy signs, expect the bedtime to become a little later. Please go very slowly with a later bedtime.
Sweet Dreams,
Marc

Here’s the narrative.
————————————————————-
There is an old Chinese proverb which says, “Getting enough sleep is better than eating ginseng”. When I became a first-time mother at the age of 43, my husband and I both agreed that without rest we couldn’t possibly make the best decisions or give good guidance as parents. We also wanted our child to acquire the awareness and respect for rest, with skills for great sleep, for life.
 
Friends of ours recommended Dr. Weissbluth’s sleep book as the “must read” parenting sleep guide when we were expecting. However, the arrival of our son threw us into a whirlwind, and we soon forgot what we read in the book. At 6 weeks of age, the baby reached peak fussiness in the evening. In hindsight, our boy was probably short on sleep as we did not follow many of the sleep hygiene practices. It was then that we turned to the book (a new edition too!) again and put into actions all of Dr. Weissbluth’s advise–adopt an early bedtime in the evening (6pm), put the baby down drowsy but awake, don’t pick up the baby at every cry in sleep. From the early days my husband and I always take turns putting the baby down as available during the day and at night. At 8 weeks, the baby started sleeping 8 hours at night. Within another month to two, he was sleeping a solid 12 hours at night, and the naps became predictable. The first year with all its nap transitions sailed smoothly until the 13th month, when he started refusing the mid-day nap. There were many compounding factors including recurrent respiratory infections in the first winter post-COVID, eczema flares, visits from various family members during the holidays with disruptions of his schedule, etc. We erroneously thought he should be transitioned to one mid-day nap. In fact, many friends/relatives encouraged us to do so. We tried several times to delay his 9am nap until 10/11am, but the single nap would last only 30 to 35 minutes with recurrent sleep inertia when he wakes up (inconsolable crying, screaming for 20 to 30 minutes). We felt incompetent, frustrated and discouraged about what to do over a solid two-months period. The only saving grace was that we followed Dr. Weissbluth’s book’s recommendation to move up bedtime, which we did from 6pm to 530pm, so our boy was making up for nap debt with longer nighttime sleep (13, even 14 hours at times).
 
We reached out to Dr. Weissbluth for help on the next step. He reminded us, that as our son is now 15 months old, this two-to-one nap transition should be much easier to accomplish. Dr Weissbluth recommended a 4 to 5 day plan of moving the mid-morning nap as close to noon as possible, with super early bedtime for those days. Our challenge has always been the 10/10:30 am slump. It was tempting to just put the tired baby down for a longer nap right when he yawned at 10 am. We decided we need to follow Dr. Weissbluth’s advise to distract the boy with activities. If we were taking him places in the morning, we made sure he did not fall asleep in the car to/from. We implemented this plan at the increment of 20 minutes every 1-2 days and moved his snack/lunch time accordingly. By the end of a week, our son goes down napping peacefully at 11:45 am and stays down for more than an hour. The sleep inertia behavior is also diminished. His bedtime during transition is about 5:15 pm, and he slept until 6 am or later, waking up his usual cheerful, chatty self. We are now slowly transitioning back to his usual bedtime, moving 10 min every 3 days.
 
Our friends & family always congratulate us on how lucky we are to have a baby that sleeps 12 hours at night. We consider ourselves lucky that we had access to Dr. Weissbluth’s knowledge, experiences, compassionate and firm guidance.

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