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Should New Parents Sleep When the Baby Sleeps?

Chances are, by the time your baby is a year old, you’ve finally settled into a comfortable rhythm of a morning and afternoon nap. But for most toddlers, somewhere between the first birthday and the second, that second nap disappears.

While you may worry about your little one getting all the sleep that she needs with only a single siesta, being ready to shift to one nap is actually a sign that she’s sleeping more deeply at night—and that’s a good thing. Consolidating naps also leaves more time in the day to be out and about without sacrificing sleep.

The big question is when to make the switch. There are a few different ways that your child may signal that she’s ready to drop a nap. Often, the quality of the naps begins to suffer, either because it becomes hard for her to fall asleep, or she wakes up early. Some toddlers continue to sleep hard during their a.m. snooze, but resist the afternoon nap—and then are a mess by bedtime. For others, the afternoon nap creeps later and later until it starts to interfere with bedtime. If you’ve been seeing these signs for a couple weeks, it may be time to shake things up.

Unfortunately, for many children there are some growing pains involved where a two-nap schedule isn’t working anymore, but one isn’t perfect either. One solution is to make the switch gradually, by pushing back the morning nap by just 15 minutes every day or two until you’ve settled into a good midday time slot, shortly after lunch or around 12:30pm or 1:00pm.

It’s important to be patient, but also keep in mind that there’s no rush to make the switch. For some, shortening the morning nap or allowing for an afternoon nap in a car or stroller may be a good stopgap. An earlier bedtime may also help to ease the transition.