As many of you know, we’ve been transitioning Riley over to one nap from two naps over the past month. Since transitioning to one nap a month ago it’s been a bit of a challenge. Easier in some ways but a lot tougher in others. And since many of you seem to be going through the same thing or have gone through the same thing recently I thought today might be a good day to blog about it. Hopefully it helps another Mama out there!
We decided to do it shortly after his first birthday for multiple reasons. One main reason, was that he was really struggling to go down for his nap. Especially his second nap! Around 10 months he really started fighting his second nap. But we knew that was way too early to transition him to one nap so we fought to keep it. But it was hard! Riley is a sleep-trained baby, so I don’t sit there and rock him to fall asleep. I put him in his crib and I leave the room. When we were putting him in his crib, it would break my heart when he would cry for 10 minutes before falling asleep for his second nap. But then after his first birthday he started fighting his first nap of the day too. At that point I knew in my heart that we should transition him to one nap. Actually, I’m not even sure if using the word “knew” is the right word here. Because after we transitioned him I kept thinking maybe we did it too early! But we went for it and there’s no looking back once you make the switch. At least everything I’ve read said there’s no looking back, so I wouldn’t dare try.
We also decided it was time to switch because it was really affecting our life. Riley is not our only child and it was really hard to do anything during the day, not only for ourselves but for Molly, when we had to be home from 9 AM to 11 AM and then again from 2 PM to 3:30 PM. So it was just the right thing to do for our family. Any parent out there with multiple kids knows that getting those naps in, especially in your child’s nursery and not a car nap or stroller, is hard. I don’t want to neglect Riley by not giving him a good nap in his nursery, but I also don’t want to have Molly suffer by not being able to be outside and play all summer long. So since it was the beginning of the summer I just thought we go for it.
There are so many things you can read out there about when is the right time to transition your baby. And I think deep in your heart you kind of just know when it’s time. However I do recommend reading up on it first.
What We Did
OK I told you why we decided to transition to one nap, now I’m gonna tell you how we did it. It’s pretty straightforward. The first day we tried to push Riley’s nap an hour from in his normal time. So he normally went down around 9 AM so we pushed it to 10 AM the first day. And honestly, it couldn’t have been easier! He didn’t want to go down at 9 AM, which is one of the reasons I want to push his nap in the first place, so 10 AM was no problem. We put him down at 10 AM and sure enough he slept great! I’m pretty sure he slept almost 3 hours that first day! He’s never slept more than an hour and 45 minutes before this. Maybe slept two hours once and it was a miracle! But for the most part, he would sleep an hour to an hour and 15 minutes for his two naps. So getting a single 3 hour nap in the middle of the day felt like a huge blessing!
The next day I believe we pushed it to 10:30 AM, and then 11 AM the following day. We kept pushing in 30 minute increments until we got him to go down for his nap at 12 PM. But Riley doesn’t nap at 12 PM anymore. And I’ll get to that in a minute.
First, I want to talk about bedtime. Because Riley went down for his nap at 10 AM the first day and woke up at 1 PM you’re probably wondering what time we put him to bed. A normal wait time for a toddler for one nap for the second half of the day is 4 to 5 hours. So we put Riley to bed right at 6 PM. He did great! He slept until about 6 AM the next day.
For the bedtimes for all of the days after that first day, we would just count five hours from when he woke up from his nap and then put him to bed at that time. So it would pretty much be anytime from 6 PM to 7 PM. Things were going great for the first couple weeks. I patted myself on the back for having the intuition to know he was ready for that one nap! Ha! I was about to get a big awakening! And what I mean by that is early awakening! This is when the dreaded early wake ups started happening!
And when I say early I’m talking early! And some days Riley would wake up at 3:45 AM and talk in his crib for an hour to two hours before falling back asleep for maybe 60 more minutes. That only happened a couple times, but in general he was waking up at 4:45 AM every morning for a week. I was exhausted! I don’t know what it is but there’s something about getting up before 5 AM that my body just cannot handle. After 5 AM I’m pretty good. But before 5 AM I’m a mess!
I wouldn’t get him out of bed right at 5 AM. I would leave him in there for maybe 30 minutes (longer later. I’ll get the that in a minute) before I went in to get him. But I’d still be up at 4:45 when he started making noise. The great thing about Riley is that we trained him on the Hatch Baby Rest Sound machine/Night light/Time-to-rise since he was about 10 months old. Do you guys know about this light? I’m hoping your answer is yes because I’ve only talked about it a dozen times now. Ha! Maybe not a dozen but a lot. It is one of my absolute favorite products and I could not love it more!
The Hatch Baby Rest is a light and sound machine that you can control from your phone that changes to a certain color to let your child know it’s OK to get out of bed. You can manually change the lights from an app in your phone or you can set a schedule so it turns on every morning at a certain time. We have Riley’s set to turn on at 6 AM every morning and we have Molly’s set to turn on at 6:30 AM every morning. Since Riley’s so young, it’s a little bit more tricky with him, but we started using it for Molly I think around one and a half or in between 1.5 and two years old. And I swear she went from waking up super early screaming our names to staying in bed absolutely silent or whispering to herself until that light turns on. We tell her that the fairies control the light and when it turns on the fairies are letting us know it’s time to start the day. Actually, last week was her birthday week and we changed the light settings so it was on the rainbow setting. Which basically means that the light slowly changes colors by itself once it turns on. And she was so excited that the fairies did that special thing for her during her birthday week!
In fact, Hatch Baby just launched a brand new version that now has more features. The Hatch Baby Rest+ still has all the features the original one had, like being able to be use it as a sound machine, a nightlight, and a time-to-rise light that can be controlled from your phone or set on a schedule. But Hatch Baby’s new Rest+ also has an audio monitor built-in and a clock. And the audio monitor is two-way. So you can listen to your child through it and talk to them through your phone if you need to. I do see that coming in clutch for maybe when a three-year-old is trying to get out of bed at 5 AM but you want them to stay in bed. We recently switched both Molly and Riley to the Hatch Baby Rest+ from the original Hatch Baby Rest!
It’s also Alexa enabled so you can change the lights and sounds just using your voice. It’s portable, so as long as the batteries are charged, you can go cord free. And you can control it from anywhere. You could even control it if you’re away from home because it uses Wi-Fi.
Anyway, now that I’ve raved about this light let me tell you why it’s been so key for me during the early wake ups. Basically, even though Riley was waking up so early, and is still waking up earlier than I’d like him to, because I’ve trained him on this light since he was 10 months old, he will sit and talk to himself in his crib until that light comes on. As soon as I turn the light on or when it automatically turns on at 6 AM he will then start calling for me more loudly because he knows it’s time to get up. This has honestly saved my sanity! I’m so lucky that when he wakes up early he doesn’t immediately start crying and screaming for me. Sure his talking wakes me up but I’m able to lay in bed with my eyes closed until I know he supposed to get out of bed.
By the way, I’ve shown photos in this post from both Molly’s room and Riley’s room! I’ve also previously posted all the details for their rooms in past blog posts!
OK back to Riley. Those super early wake ups were really really hard on me. So I started looking into what I could do about it. It turns out I was just putting Riley down way too late. Like I mentioned above, normal wait time for a toddler around his age after his first nap is 4-5 hours. I was pushing five hours, or even five hours and 15 minutes every single time. So we started putting him to bed earlier. And even making his naps earlier.So his schedule would look something like this.
First nap 11am-1:45pm
As you can see we moved his nap from 12 PM until 11 AM. And he started napping longer. I told you about how at the beginning it was for three hours, but all the ones after were pretty much two hours and 15 minutes. But by moving his nap up to 11 AM, he started sleeping closer to three hours some days. And as you can see his awake time for the second half of the day is only about four hours and 15 minutes. Sometimes we will do four hours and 30 minutes. But as a result he’s no longer waking up at 3:45 or 445. Granted it’s about 5 AM or 5:15 AM. But he’s still getting more than an hour extra sleep than he was when we put him to bed later. I’m not getting a ton of extra sleep but I’ll take that extra 15 minutes to 30 minutes. Plus like I mentioned above, even if he wakes up at 5:15 AM, he still just quietly talks to himself in his crib until his Hatch Baby Rest+ time-to-rise light turns on.
If you want to know other things I highly recommend to have in the nursery, then I’m going to be blogging about that in more detail next week or so! Things like an air purifier to make sure your kiddos room has the best air possible. I also highly recommend a sleep suit! We have had Riley in a sleep sack ever since we transitioned him from the swaddle and plan to keep him in it until he’s 2.5 years old. Molly for a sleep sack/suit until she was 2.5. We just recently transitioned her out of it because we know she’ll be transitioning to a toddler bed soon and we don’t want there to be too many changes at one time once that happens. So we thought we would eliminate the sleep suit now and then soon eliminate the crib and move onto a toddler bed.
Also, I think one of the reasons Riley is able to stay chill until his OK to Wake light turns on is also because he has comfort in his crib. I’ve put a lovey in Riley’s crib with him ever since he was four months old. Obviously consult your doctor before you do something like this! But a little breathable security blanket has really helped him, especially when we were sleep training him. And when he wakes up and waits quietly in his crib he holds on and snuggles that little lovey. Molly sleeps with her pink blanket every night and it acts as her lovey! My kiddos just love having something to snuggle at night!
Well, that’s my story. I don’t know if this is going to help anybody or if you are more confused now than before you started reading it. Ha! I hope you got something from the post but if you still have questions I highly recommend checking out Taking Cara Babies site. She has helped me get through this nap transition and I’m so grateful to her! Plus she has so much more experience than me and has a ton of content on her site to help you navigate through nap transitions.
And as always, I hope you guys share your experiences with me and all the other moms reading this in the comments below! When did you transition your child from two naps to one nap! Was it before one year? Was it after? Was it way after? I’d love to hear all your experiences and tips for what helped you and your little one get through it.