Two Nap Minimum

Chart showing the transisition from two naps to one

It’s my guess that if you ask any parent of a young toddler what the best time of the day is, the answer will be nap time. Previously it may have been happy hour, or when Must-See-TV starts, or that second coffee break, but that was before they had kids.

Four months ago, when Trixie was 14 months old, I could usually count on her to take a nap by about 10am, but I wasn’t real particular. If she acted tired, I would let her take a nap, even if it was 8 o’clock in the morning. As far as I was concerned, it was never too early for a nap. Not being a morning person, I needed Trixie’s first nap to shower, get dressed, and generally wake-up. If I was having a good day, I might even get a little work done, but that was usually left for the afternoon nap. She didn’t always take an afternoon nap, but it regular enough for me to believe that it existed. (See A)

Things began to change around 15 1/2 months (B). I still let Trixie go to sleep in the morning when she wanted to, but it became increasingly difficult to get her to take a second nap. We had horrible days where she took a short morning nap, and then spent the whole afternoon in a cranky, frustrated stupor, unwilling or unable to take a second one.

We wrestled with this for a month until we decided enough was enough. We decided to push her to stay up until nap time (1:00) and the payoff was immediate. (C) The following nine days were the most consistent sleep schedule Trixie ever had. Her schedule has fluctuated since then, but one the one-nap-a-day rule remains in effect.

So, now our only sleep problem is trying to get Trixie to stay in bed at bedtime. For instance, tonight it took over an hour of her jumping out of bed, running around her room in the dark, pulling out all her toys, banging into things and generally sounding like a raccoon going through the trash before we finally got her to sleep. Aside from reverting to the Pack’n’Play (which she still can’t climb out of) we don’t have a solution — unless going in there with a flashlight and banging on the garbage can lids would work.

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Other points of interest on this chart:
(D) First climbed out of her crib, just five days after we switched over to one nap a day.

(E) Christmas.

(F) After several weeks of successfully sleeping without the crib side, Trixie began rolling out of bed at night.

(G) Trixie was sick.

(H) Trixie wouldn’t stay in her crib when she was sick, so we switched her back to the Pack’n’Play for about a week and a half until she learned to stay in the crib again.

Thanks to dearsarah for reminding me to do this nap transition story 🙂

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25 Responses to Two Nap Minimum

  1. Heather says:

    When I saw that Trixie took one long nap, I wondered if I ought to do the same with Kyle, but I figure – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. For instance- Kyle took 2 naps today. One from 9AM-10:45AM (I actually had to wake him up to leave for church so he probably would have slept longer). And another nap from 4-7PM. I just put him to bed (awake- but sleepy) at 9PM & he’ll sleep til I get him up at 6:30AM. I say do whatever works for you! If Trixie runs on one big nap- good for her! I don’t know what Kyle does for naps during the week when he’s at my M-I-L’s house, & I suspect that I may screw up his sleep schedule on the weekends, but I don’t care. I’m happy, he’s happy & that’s all that matters!

  2. christine says:

    Sounds like you guys need one of these a little pricey, maybe… but sleep is priceless. Also, a little bird told me that if you use the code BDAYFEB (all caps) at the check out screen you will get 15% off until 2/28/05. They have a money back guarantee on all their stuff at any time… minus shipping.

    Anyway… just a thought. Good luck!

  3. Maddie's Mom says:

    Wow. I wish that Trixie were a few months older than Maddie, because I could have really used this (information combined with validation) during Mads’ transition to one nap. This stuff is why I love ttu. Well, that and tpods. And the polls. And the comments.

  4. Dave says:

    Ben, do you close the door to Trixie’s room or have a gate? Do you just ignore any cries or toy playing until she just falls asleep on her own? Does she at least return to her bed on her own or just send end up sleeping anywhere in the room? Just curious how you even handle a situation like this…

  5. Summer says:

    I wondered if she was in the crib still– it looked like it in the msnbc piece, but then i thought that you had said something before about no crib anymore… – so if she’s still in a crib, she doesn’t climb out anymore? Autumn’s never tried climbing out of it- she just prefers waking up in the middle of the night, and doing her “excercises” and push-ups and laughing hysterically! crazy girl.

  6. hillary says:

    Excellent timing on this story for us! Oscar is right in the middle of transitioning now. I’m digging in my heels and desperately holding onto the two naps. It feels like I spend my entire day trying to get him to sleep now. As a result we all feel like that fuzzy B line. Maybe it’s time to give in.

  7. haeshu says:

    i have the same type of questions as dave. what do you do with nocturnal trixie? do you put her in bed repeatedly, or let her sleep on the floor in a heap once she is done playing?

  8. benmac says:

    Thanks for the comments/questions.
    Here’s some more info:

    1) Trixie sleeps in the crib, but the side has been removed. Therefore it’s now a ‘Big Girl Bed’.

    2) We have a gate and close her door about half way.

    3) When we hear her playing, we go in and ‘help’ her back to bed. This can happen up to about 20 times on a bad night.

    4) She always ends up falling asleep in the bed. I’ve never found her asleep anywhere else.

    hillary: You make an excellent point which I forgot to include. The reason Trixie was in the ‘fuzzy B line’ for so long was because, like you, I was desperate to keep the two naps. The idea of losing one of my breaks was terrifying. If you’re at that point, I’m guessing it’s probably better to let it go — you’ll end up being happier with a more regular schedule. Good luck!

  9. Jaynee says:

    Ben – trust me when I say one nap is great. when Olivia transitioned she went from two 90 minutes naps to one long four hour nap on occasion. Now she’s down to about 2 1/2 hours for her nap, but when you get those long 4 hour naps it is pure bliss.

  10. Jen says:

    Did you watch Supernanny last week? They showed a child who climbed out of his bed. Her technique was to put the child in the crib and then sit to the side of the crib without making eye contact with the child. If they climb out, you put them back in without making eye contact. Every night move a lit bit further toward the door. Supernanny had that kid trained within days.

  11. SuzyQ says:

    Having them play with a few toys when they get out of bed at night is really not too bad. My youngest liked to empty her bottom dresser drawers!

  12. DavidNYC says:

    What, pray tell, is a Pack’n’Play? It sounds a bit terrifying.

  13. Suzanne says:

    My son turns 3 in April, and we still have a miserable time keeping him in bed. He goes down at 10 pm on a good night & midnight on a bad one (and still manages to wake up at 8 am!) We read him two or three stories, turn out the light, and try to ignore any cries. If he gets out of bed, all it takes is his daddy saying “Sagan I said get back in that bed” and he goes right back. We do that two or three times & then check on him, and usually he’s asleep (again, on a good day).

  14. Summer says:

    David a pack n play is a playpen. It’s set on the floor and pretty much too big for a baby to get out of…

  15. sarah says:

    You should send Tufte your sleep chart. It is beautiful.

  16. queen t says:

    hmmm…i am pretty impressed with the information that you have presented here (and i have only read one entry!) it will be nice to read some more…i have to check out those graphs 8-|

  17. viv says:

    I don’t know if you know how incredibly useful your charting information and charting tool is for pediatricians and other scientists who study sleep patterns for a living – *cough*Weissbluth*cough*. No really, you should kick up your work on the TrixieTelemetry software into high gear not only as
    (1) a really useful scientific study tool for the pediatric community and sleep medicine community (I bet Jenn could help you market it to the right folks), and
    (2) a really useful consumer tool to help parents be more aware of sleep patterns so they can work with those patterns instead of defeat them (you’ve already got a patiently waiting group of beta testers), but also as
    (3) a very honest to goodness way to infuse moolah into Trixie’s college fund (you’re sitting on a gold mine)!

    I wish I had found your site before I stopped sleep charting at four months. I would have been inspired to keep going and maybe I wouldn’t still be surprised, at 11 months, by when my baby’s naps and night sleep are or are not happening as hoped.

  18. Maddie's Mom says:

    Help! This is as good a thread as any to post my plea. Maddie (18 months old) is currently a wee bit sick (so of course I am too), and she’s been waking up in the middle of the night. Understandable…she can’t breathe, she’s coughing. But…she won’t go back to sleep! Correction: she will sleep as long as I am in the room or doorway, but the second I move, she’s up crying. I did the evil mom thing last night and tried to let her cry it out (standing just out of sight of her door and crying along with her…remember, I’m sick too). After an hour, I gave up. Giving up entails bringing her into bed with me, where she sleeps fitfully and I lie awake with feet, then hair, then fists, then feet in my face. Ideas? Encouragement? Methamphetamines? (I’m a teacher and grades are due TODAY!)

  19. aidens momma says:

    maddie’s mom- for the not breaathing, i suggest getting one of those baby vicks wall plug in things. they are basically one use medicated humidfiers. we used one last time aiden couldnt sleep cause of stuffiness and it worked wonders. also, talk to your dr but i think dimatap (?) puts out a decongestant for little guys. good luck!!!

  20. kshel says:

    Maddie’s mom – the last time we had that problem with our 7 MO we took the good ole boppy and propped Evan on it. Worked great! Big enough and curved where they can’t roll out and keeps that little head supported so they can breathe easier. I suggest the infant Robutussin also. It works great for us controlling the cough. Good Luck!

  21. Darla says:

    Maddie’s mom – My son just got over a cold and the doctor recommended Triminic patches for kids. It worked great. The smell was a little overpowering but I guess that is why it worked. It smells like a combination on Vick’s rub and cough syrup. All you do is stick the patch on the baby’s chest and it is suppose to help with the stuffiness and the coughing. Anyway, we put it on our son right before bedtime and he slept through the night. Good luck!

  22. Maddie's Mom says:

    Taking notes and will try out any and all…but maybe not at the same time… Thanks to everyone!

  23. Maddie's Mom says:

    Update: I tried the vicks plug-in thing and good old baby vicks rubbed in the chest/back/neck (couldn’t find a triaminic patch). I also took the advice of a coworker and raised the head of Maddie’s crib about an inch and a half. She slept like a dream. Whether it was the remedies or the fact that she was exhausted from the previous bad night, I’m not sure. Nonetheless, thanks everyone for the help.

  24. haeshu says:

    glad to hear maddie is feeling better! i was racking my brain to give you suggestions and all i could come up with was when the babies were sick i would give in and sleep on the couch with them on my chest and me propped against the arm. it let me get some decent sleep too (and cuddle time).

  25. tallulah's mom says:

    the garbage-can-lid banging remedy? good grief; 10 minutes later, and im still laughing out loud…