Q. How do you know when a toddler is ready to transition from two naps to one, and how do you best help the child do it?
A. "You know they're ready when either their second nap gets so late it's starting to delay bedtime, or they're completely resisting the morning nap," says Jennifer Waldburger, co-creator of "The Sleep- easy Solution" book and DVD. The usual age of transition is 14 to 16 months, she says.
But kids don't suddenly move from two naps to one. You'll first see your child naturally shifting naptime later over the course of a few months. For instance, if your child naps at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., the child may not fall asleep until 9:30 a.m. for the first nap or perhaps until 2 p.m. for the second, Waldburger says.
Once they're napping at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., help with the final transition by moving morning naptime half an hour later every three or four days, until they are napping about 5 to 5.5 hours after wake-up time. Then, eliminate the second nap.
Initially make bedtime a half-hour or so earlier, as there will be a longer window between the nap and bedtime.
Don't panic if your child grabs a brief, 30-minute second nap every few days as she is transitioning. The transition will take one to two weeks, Waldburger says.
Incidentally, the one nap will now be as long as the prior two naps combined. The goal is to have the nap happen at the midpoint of the child's day.