1 to 0 Nap Transition - When to Drop the Last Nap
Updated Dec 20th 2022 | 7 min read
Updated Dec 20th 2022 | 7 min read
Written By Mandy Treeby Chief Baby Sleep Consultant
This is a big moment: transitioning your baby away from naps. After years of scheduling your days around their sleep and timing daytime rests, your baby is ready to complete the 1-to-0 nap transition – a rite of passage that ushers them into “big kid” territory.
As exciting and bittersweet as this moment is, it also raises a lot of questions for parents, including “How do I drop my baby’s last nap?” and “Do nap transitions lead to early wakeups?” Luckily, we’re here to answer all of your questions about dropping your baby’s last nap.
IN THIS ARTICLE:
Experts agree that most babies stop napping somewhere between 3 and 4 years old. This prevents your baby from getting too much daytime sleep and backsliding on night sleep.
With that in mind, some toddlers may be ready to give up their final nap a little earlier, with some taking 1 nap a day even until they’re 5. And even if they have seemingly dropped their afternoon nap, many a child will take an afternoon siesta after a busy day of activity – most often while in the car or stroller!
You know your baby, though – if that nap still helps them, it doesn’t negatively impact their night sleep, and you’re alright with them taking that nap, by all means, nap away!
Scheduling or transitioning naps can be challenging if your baby is in daycare. Some daycares have a nap period for all the children, some don’t offer nap time at all.
If your baby goes to a daycare that requires naps, hold off on nap transitions until they’re out of that program,
If your daycare is more flexible, inform them about your baby’s nap schedule, regardless of their age.
As with other nap transitions, you complete the 1-to-0 nap transition by simply cutting out that final nap.
There may be some fussiness at first, but you can prevent that, and help further nourish nighttime sleep, by temporarily moving your baby’s bedtime up about 20-30 minutes for a few days or until they adjust.
Pro Tip: An early bedtime is always a good idea during nap transitions, you can move it as early as 5.30pm if you feel like it’s needed!
It can take a few days or up to a few weeks for your baby to completely adjust to their new sleep schedule.
It’s alright to sometimes alternate between 0 naps and 1 nap. If your baby shows sleepy cues during the day, it’s better to let them rest than keep them up past their wake window, which can throw their entire sleep cycle off track or lead to overtiredness.
Nap transitions can sometimes lead to early wakeups, including the 1-to-0 nap transition. This is completely natural but can be frustrating. Here’s how to deal with early wake ups…
By now you’ve probably realized that babies wake up early by nature.
Whenever your baby’s schedule changes, though, there are sometimes extra early wake-ups, including during nap transitions. So, how do you deal with early wakeups? Here’s some expert advice on minimizing early wakeups in babies:
Keep the Space Dark: Even a little bit of light can wake up your baby and get their circadian rhythm going for the day. That’s why we recommend blackout curtains for all babies, from newborn to toddler – good black out curtains block out all light, thus creating a sleep nourishing environment for your baby.
Make “Good Morning!” Special: Sometimes early wakeups can be managed by making “good morning” distinct.
So, for example, say your baby typically wakes at 6:30 but begins waking at 5:30 after a nap transition.
To make “good morning” special, you would treat the early wakeup like a night waking – go in quietly, tend to your baby’s needs, and slip out quietly.
Next, leave your baby until their normal wakeup and then go in and say, “Good morning!” This will cue to your baby that the early wake is not the start of the day.
Just as a bedtime routine can cue your baby to fall asleep, this method can cue them that the early wakeup is not the start of the day. This can help your baby sleep through that period or, at the very least, teach them to wait patiently until the day truly begins.
Let Them Be: Some babies and people are simply early risers by nature. If your toddler has nap transitioned and wakes up early morning after morning, that may just be their natural cycle. This can prove challenged when your baby is a baby, but it’s a bit easier with toddlers because you can instruct them to stay in their crib or, when they’re older kids, let them know they can get out of bed to watch tv, play with the dog, or whatever other activity you decide is appropriate.
Move Bedtime Up: If your baby is waking bright and early but not getting tired earlier, you can try to shift their bedtime up a bit by performing your bedtime routine a bit earlier to encourage more sleep.
Baby’s First Clock: You can help your baby understand day/wake-time and night/sleep-time by buying a simple clock the displays a sun and moon. When the sun is out, it’s time to be up; when the moon is out, it’s still nighttime. Simply place this type of product in your baby’s room and tell them, “It’s important to stay in bed and be quiet until the sun comes up.” This method can help reinforce the day/night divide to minimize disruptive early wakeups.
Regardless of age or which nap transition, the signs your baby is ready to drop a nap remain the same. What is important is that you need to observe these signs consistently over a period of time before making the switch, a nap skip one day doesn’t necessarily mean they are ready to stop napping altogether.
Naptime Becomes a Struggle: If your toddler once loved their final nap but consistently can’t seem to get into it now, it’s probably time to cut out that nap.
A Missed Nap Isn’t “Missed”: If your baby misses their nap but isn’t cranky, fussy, or otherwise effected, that could be a sign they are ready for that nap to be dropped.
Falling Asleep is a Struggle: Another sign it’s time for a nap transition is if your baby is suddenly having trouble falling asleep at night. This is likely because they’re getting too much sleep during the day, depleting their sleep drive for night. If you see your toddler struggling to fall asleep at night, it may be time to remove that final nap.
Crankiness After a Nap: If your baby wakes up from their nap cranky, they may be getting too much sleep. Just as being overtired can throw off your baby’s sleep cycles, so too can getting too much sleep.
It’s alright, and totally normal, for your baby to sometimes need a nap after completing the 0-to-1 nap transition. If your baby seems like they need a nap, or even requests a nap, let them take that downtime. Even if they don’t sleep, sometimes quiet time helps settle moods and reset your baby for the next few hours.
In addition to having a positive immediate benefit, this also teaches your toddler that it’s alright to step away if they need to recenter themselves.
Experts and parents have found that the 2-to-1 nap transition is the most difficult.This isbecause their wake windows are longer than ever, and their bodies take some time to adjust. The other nap transitions tend to be a bit smoother.
The 1-to-0 nap transition can take 4-6 weeks to complete. Even after a few days of not napping well, you may find your little one needs an afternoon break. You can make this last nap transition, easier by moving up your little one’s bedtime.
Each child is different, but typically babies are ready for the 2-to-1 nap transition around 14-18 months. Around then you may notice your baby resists their second nap or has trouble falling asleep at night – two signs it’s time for your baby to nap transition.
The final 1-to-0 nap transition typically happens around 3-4 years, though some babies or parents prefer to maintain naps a little longer, until about 5. You know your baby best – if it seems like they can do without the nap, it may be time to nap transition. Keeping up an extra nap for too long may negatively impact their night sleep.
“The effects of napping on cognitive function in preschoolers,” Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.
“Naps Can Help Preschool Children Learn,” National Institutes of Health.
“Daytime nap controls toddlers' nighttime sleep,” Scientific Reports.
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.