Is your 12 month old refusing their second nap or refusing to nap in general?
When our little ones suddenly start sleeping less, it’s hard on everyone. It can be physically and emotionally exhausting. We all need our sleep and come to rely on a certain number of hours per day, plus we often have our days planned around our baby’s naps.
When their 12 month old starts refusing a second nap, most parents first thought is that it must be time to drop to one nap.
But is it?
In this post, I’m going to talk about why your 12 month old might suddenly be fighting their second nap, if 12 months is too early to drop to one nap, and how to get your little one’s sleep back on track.
Why is my 12 month old refusing their second nap?
12 months marks a pretty big point in your baby’s life. They are both learning and developing so much!! This is often around the time when they start learning to walk, and learning new ways of to communicate (going from gestures to signing and/or talking). There are a lot of changes and developments going on in their brains, especially; processing new information and developing new skills.
This all takes a lot of attention and brainpower for your baby. And just like with any big milestone in their life, unfortunately sleep is often affected.
For some babies this looks like overtiredness and for others it can look like being wide awake when they are usually sleeping.
If your 1 year old is suddenly refusing their second nap, it is most likely due to this big leap in their development (read: the 12 month sleep regression).
Is 12 months too early for one nap?
Your 12 month old no longer wants to take a second nap, so logically you should just cancel it all together and embrace a one-nap-a-day lifestyle. Right?
Not so fast.
For the vast majority of 12 month olds, they are just not ready to be on one nap a day yet. Most babies need 2 naps a day until closer to 15 months old. Of course every baby is different, and not every baby will fit in the “vast majority of babies” mold, however I strongly recommend continuing to offer that second nap for at least a month before making the call that your little one really will do better on one nap a day.
Remember the division of responsibility here. You are responsible for offering the time and space for a quiet nap. This looks like maintaining a calm setting, and holding boundaries around when is expected during this time.
Your child’s responsibility to choose whether or not they will sleep during this time. Even if they are just chilling in their crib, looking at books or playing with stuffies, it is still a restful and restorative time.
Plus, it maintains consistency so they can easily go back to napping when they are ready. You will know it was just the 12 month sleep regression when after a few weeks your 12 month old suddenly starts sleeping again during this time.
Note: when it is time to drop to one nap, you can find out everything you need to know in this blog post.
How do I get my 12 month old’s (or any toddler’s) sleep back on track?
It can be incredibly stressful and even frustrating when your 12 month old suddenly stops taking their second nap. The best thing you can do is try and remain calm and positive. Sleep isn’t always going to be perfect and it’s a lot easier on everyone if we embrace the bumps in the road.
That being said, there are some things you can do to foster sleep and help get your little one’s sleep back on track.
1. Independent sleep skills
I’m going to assume that if your 12 month old WAS putting themselves to sleep for both naps then lack of independent sleep skills is not the issue, However it’s important that I address it just in case.
If your little one doesn’t have independent sleep skills, then it is unreasonable to expect them to put themselves to sleep for their naps. When babies have independent sleep skills, and on a schedule that meets THEIR sleep needs, then most of the time they are happy to be put in their crib and drift off to sleep peacefully.
If this is not the case for your little one, please book a consultation! We can help you optimize their sleep and learn developmentally appropriate sleep skills.
2. Stay consistent
As I mentioned above, it’s important to continue to offer the time and space for both naps. Hold clear and consistent boundaries around what nap time looks like, and embrace that fact that it may end up being more of a quiet time for a while.
You can offer books, or stuffies for them to play with in their crib if they choose not to sleep so they’re not just chilling in the dark. If they do not fall asleep after 1 hour, then cheerfully get them up and continue on with your day. Overtime, your little one will most likely start napping again.
3. Prevent overtiredness
The key to NOT getting into a cycle of fighting a nap (or more night wakings/early mornings) is to prevent overtiredness. If your baby misses a nap, then they can become overtired. This will most likely result in false starts at bedtime, more night wakings, short naps, and/or early morning wakings.
The overtiredness can carry into the next day and cause your baby to fight their nap again. So how do you prevent this from happening if your 12 month old is fighting their second nap? There’s actually a pretty simple solution: On the day that the nap is refused, bump bedtime earlier by 30-60 minutes. This is the easiest way to prevent overtiredness and help your baby get their sleep back on track.
12 month old/toddler refusing to nap recap
If your 12 month old is refusing their second nap, please know that you are not alone. It’s extremely common for this to happen and one of the trademarks of the 12 month sleep regression.
The best thing you can do, is to foster independent sleep skills, stay consistent, and prevent overtiredness. If you feel like their schedule is off, or that they really would do better on one nap a day, we would love to help! We can look at your little one’s sleep history, current schedule, individual sleep needs, and help you determine what the best sleep plan is for YOUR baby.
Check out all of our consultation options here!