I’ve often heard people discuss the struggle of “2 naps too many but 1 not enough” when their child is transitioning to 1 nap a day. I haven’t really heard people discuss when they’re down to 1 nap a day but it starts to affect bedtime and night sleep.

Here’s my very recent experience — just a disclaimer: every kid is different and has different needs which I totally understand. This is what I just went through/am going through and was reflecting on it for myself so I decided to share. As always, feel free to message me or email me at tobabyconcierge@gmail.com for any questions.

My son turned 2 in December so he’s about 2 and a half. Since he started school in September I would pick him up at 1:00 pm and put him for a nap when we got home, so let’s say by 1:30. {quick background – at 1 I moved him to 1 long nap which started at 11:30, then last summer he  went to camp until 12 so moved the nap to 12:30 and then before school moved it to 1:00} He was a monster napper and would sleep until 4:00 (or later 😬) This was great and he would still go to sleep at regular bedtime of 7:00. A couple of months ago he started to not be tired for bedtime. I started waking him up from his nap by 3:00 pm. This was unpleasant and as time went on there were a few things I was thinking…

1) It’s never fun waking someone up when they don’t want to wake up

2) When he would be woken up he could be cranky at first and need time to wake up

3) It started to become clear that he wasn’t so tired after school and he would want a snack or to play so it became an effort to get him into the crib and THEN it was an effort to wake him up #thestruggleisreal

4) As time went on, even though I was waking him up from his nap, he still wasn’t tired come bedtime. He would stay up late and then once he was in his crib he’d still talk and sing to himself for a while and he wouldn’t necessarily sleep in as long as he used to in the morning.

I wasn’t sure we (yes, I put myself as part of the equation) were ready to cut the official nap but I was starting to feel that maybe the time was here.

I signed him up for a full day of camp with no naps . In preparation, two weeks before camp started I stopped putting him in the crib for his nap. For the last week of school I would pick him up and then we would have some rest time on the couch together. I felt this really made a difference. I would get his lovies/stuffed animals from his crib and we would cuddle on the couch. He wouldn’t sleep but we’d watch a TV show and I’m not going to lie, spent time taking some Snapchat filter selfies. After this rest time he’d get a second wind and was ready to play again. For the week between camp and school we did day trips and there was no rest time but it was constant action so there was a lot going on and we survived.

Here is what I observed:

1) He is definitely crankier than he’s ever been over his 2.5 years.

2) As 5:30 pm approaches he’s very sensitive and not as easy going as he usually is.

Once we make it past dinner and bath (I may or may not feel like superwoman every night it’s accomplished – anyone with me?)

1) He falls asleep immediately upon being put in the crib and can sleep in longer in the morning. He’s sleeping by 6:30 pm where as before he was babbling in his crib until 8 or later.

2) He is SO happy to be involved in the full day activities… I was thinking to nap him on Saturday because he was tired but now that he KNOWS there’s a whole day that happens when he used to nap he doesn’t want to miss out. (possible Con? JK)

We are in the 4th week of no naps and the “witching hour” is definitely getting better but he’s definitely much quicker to get upset than when he napped.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends 11-14 hours of sleep for toddlers (1-2 years) and 10-13 hours for pre-schoolers (3-5 years). At 2.5 he falls in the middle and he’s getting 12-13 hours a night so he’s getting the right amount of sleep.

Overall, I’m very happy that we moved to this stage. He’s loving the full day of camp and his counselors are saying he’s happy and having a blast. Bedtime has moved way earlier (6:00 – 6:30 pm) and he’s more than happy to get into the crib and pass out. Most importantly to me – I don’t have to struggle to wind him down mid-day and put him for a nap and even more so I don’t need to wake him once he’s happy in a deep sleep.

I’m not saying that he won’t still need a nap; my 4.5 year old still falls asleep on the weekends when we are out – 100% if we drive somewhere he tends to fall asleep. This past Sunday we went to an amusement park for the morning and both boys fell asleep on our way home around 1:00 pm. I’m a huge fan of car/stroller naps at any age, heck I’m 30 and I still love a nap.

Upon reflection, I’m happy to have moved on to the next stage and be done with the daily afternoon crib nap which started impeding on his total night sleep and bedtime routine. That’s not to say when the weekend comes and there’s no school/camp I don’t ask myself *what were you thinking?!*