TODDLERS & SLEEP
Charlie is showing signs he is ready to transition to one nap. He hardly ever takes his afternoon nap, he just talks and plays in his crib then he begins to cry for a while before I get him. His afternoon nap is only happening about 30 percent of the time.
His usual schedule is:
WAKE UP: 7 am
FIRST NAP: 9/9:30
SECOND NAP: 2:30
NIGHT TIME SLEEP: 7 pm
I had no idea how to start the, “one nap per day transition” but I was lucky enough to meet sleep specialist, Hillary Catherine at the perfect time! Starting the transition anywhere between 12-19 months is normal, but 14 to 15 months is most common. Charlie is 17 months old, and with a brother on the way I figured we better start now.
We had a call where I went over Charlie’s sleep history, his current schedule, and what the issues were. She developed a very straight forward 6 step plan and sent it over to me the next day! Please see below
Hillary recommended we slowly move Charlie’s nap later by 30 minutes every three days until he was going to sleep at noon. This put us on a 10 day nap transition plan. I was worried Charlie would get very sleepy in the mornings while we were implementing the plan. Hillary said this might happen, but suggested taking him outside or giving him a snack to perk him up. Taking him outside, even when it was chilly, definitely helped! She also let us know that it can take up to a month to fully adjust to one nap and a 1:00 pm naptime is the ultimate goal around 2 years of age.
Q&A WITH HILLARY CATHERINE
Q: When should I transfer my toddler from his crib to a big kid bed?
A: Hold off as long as you can! Keeping your child in their crib will help them sleep
better and longer through the night. With a big kid bed comes big responsibilities. These
responsibilities can be difficult for a child under three to understand, which often leads
to greater difficulty falling asleep, night wakings, and middle of the night trips into your
room. The crib has been your child’s safe space, and the physical boundaries of a crib
create a sense of security. The only reason to switch to a big kid bed younger than
three would be for safety. If your toddler has started climbing out of their crib, despite all of your efforts to keep them from being able to do so, it is time to make the switch.
Safety is, of course, number one. Expect some challenges during this transition. The
best thing you can do to make the transition on your child easier is to be consistent with
your expectations and rules, especially in the early stages of transitioning.
Q: What about early risings? My toddler is always up so early!
A: There might be a fix for this, but it depends. If by early you mean 6:00am I have
some sad news for you. You might just have a child who is an early riser. As a parent of
an early riser I can sympathize with you, but it is just who they are! My best tips for you
are to make sure you hold to an early bedtime so that they get the sleep they need, you
buy a programmable coffee maker, and find a way to embrace the early morning.
However, if your child is up before 6:00am and is over 18 months old I would strongly
recommend investing in a toddler clock like the Ok to Wake Clock (HERE) or the Hatch Baby Rest Night Light (HERE). These clocks work better for older toddler who can understand the concept. These clocks will change colors at the wake up time you set, letting your little one know that it is ok to get out of bed. It might take a few days to teach them how it works. If your child comes to you before it is time to wake up you can gently return them to their room, explain the clock to them again, using simple terms like, “When the clock turns green that means it is time to wake up. It is not green yet, so it is still night-night time. Go back to sleep.” Keep in mind that toddlers see the world in black and white so it is important that you are extremely consistent when you introduce the new clock so they can learn and understand how it works.
Q: Some nights it feels like bedtime goes on forever. My kids end up getting so wound up that they won’t go to sleep and by the time they are in bed I am
A: We all want extra cuddles and smiles in the evening and peaceful bedtimes. We are
tired and we know our children are tired, so when bedtime gets out of hand it can be so
frustrating for everybody. The good news is that bedtime can be that good every night.
Many parents I have worked with say it is one of their favorite times of the day. I know it
is one of my favorite times. The key is having a routine and sticking to it. I recommend that a bedtime routine is 20-30 minutes total in length. The trick is making it exactly the
same every single night. Often the struggle comes down to the “one more story” line we
all know so well. My advice is to pick how many stories the bedtime routine will include
and then never read more. Although the routine sounds rigid and inflexible, what you
are doing is teaching your child what to expect. Toddlers thrive on routines — and who
can blame them? If your child is struggling to stick to the routine you can make a
bedtime routine chart with images to help them understand.
If you have specific sleep concerns that are not addressed in this post reach out to Hillary, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.hillarycatherine.com to set up an appointment. I really enjoyed working with her around toddler sleep. She specializes in sleep at every age.