Why Not All 12 Month Olds Transition to One Nap

Toddler NappingAs your baby approaches her first birthday, most parents are beginning to wonder when it’s time to transition to one nap. How will you know when it’s time? Don’t all 12 month olds take just one nap? Actually, they don’t. It surprised me when I was a new mom, too, but the average age for a toddler to transition to one nap is actually between 15 and 18 months. They take just one nap until between 3 and 4 years old, on average, before they stop napping all together. This article will review the reason not all 12 month olds transition to one nap.

Once a baby goes through her 8, 9, or 10 month old sleep regression, typically most babies will get into a pretty good groove. A 10 month old’s schedule typically involves being awake for 3 to 4 hours between sleep periods. 10 to 11 month olds get 11-12 hours of sleep at night and 2-3 hours total in naps, for an average total sleep of about 13 1/2 hours per day, on average. Naturally, some babies will get more and some less, of course.

Based on both my personal experience and in my consultations with countless parents, I know that 11 month olds also seem to go through a nap regression. It starts to appear that your 11 month old is trying to transition to one nap. They either start skipping one nap entirely or they start taking two 45-minute naps. You might think it’s time to transition to one nap. Many parents will transition their baby and many babies will do just fine. Similarly, babies in daycare typically are required to transition to one nap around 12 months old, ready or not. Again, most do just fine. However, I typically tell parents, who have a choice, not to rush this transition.

Just last week, a new client told me her baby started walking at 8 months! I was shocked as this is the youngest I’ve heard of a baby WALKING! My boys didn’t even CRAWL until 10 months! 😀 Although my eldest was a late crawler, he started walking just three weeks later around 11 months. He always wanted to be on his feet, since he was just a few weeks old, actually. He’s the son of a track star, what can I say? This kid very rarely sits still.

While there are babies who walk very early, the average age is between 10 and 14 months to take first steps. Keep in mind that those first few steps pale in comparison to how active they will become and this is why not all 12 month olds actually finish the transition to one nap. Once they start really walking, they get extremely tired, again. Think of what you might feel like after you’ve done cardio or run on the treadmill for an hour. Now do it three times in a day. You would be pooped! Lately, I’ve been sucked into doing Turbo Fire (seen the infomercials?) and I have been EXTRA tired almost every night, too (more on this later as I have more to tell you). Well, your baby cruising, walking, running, and climbing is expending a LOT of energy. I find some babies even start getting hungry at night, again, due to all the calories burned (that does not necessarily mean feed them, but do increase daytime intake).

I find that although an 11-month old may begin to transition to one nap, she seems to go backwards and get tired sooner, again, a few weeks later. So, you may want to hold on to those two naps for a bit longer before you push her too soon. I didn’t know better my first time around and had a mess a month after transitioning my 11 1/2 month old to one nap. My toddler was extremely overtired and CRANKY and I just couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong! The second time around, I hung on to two naps for about three weeks and my toddler happily kept napping twice a day until he was around 14 to 15 months old. Now I help clients in similar situations every day as they transition to one nap.

For help getting your toddler on a good nap schedule, transitioning to one nap, or helping him sleep through the night, check out The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-Book puts you back in control with a toolkit of strategies and sample schedules to put your toddler on the right sleep track. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider the book option with consultation or one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about!

When did your toddler transition to one nap?