15 Months to 3 and a half years
As discussed in the previous stage 8-15 months your child still might be in the process of either transitioning to one nap or have made the transition already. This one nap a day might occur anywhere from 11am to 1pm. The duration also may vary. For children who are in the beginning stages of full transition to one nap, the nap still occurs too early in the day making it difficult to stay rested through till bedtime. Please review the section below for night sleep. The goal for parents with children at this stage is to start stretching the wakefulness week by week by a half hour so that the one nap can occur closer to midday (12:30-1pm). Once the nap is occurring at that time then over time the duration of the nap starts to increase. This increase in duration can become longer over a period of 2-6 months (varies in children tremendously).
Now that you have one nap a day the length or duration of that nap increases over time. At about 2 years you might even get those super long naps of 3 hours or more. It's important at this age to be consistent with this nap because your child needs this nap to stay rested. As your child approaches the age of 3 years there might be a time where she begins not to fall asleep right away and play during the nap. Don't assume your child is transitioning out of this nap. I have observed a consistent pattern at this age where parents don't realize that they begin putting their child down for the nap a little bit later in the day. Please take a close look at the pattern of sleep times for this nap if this is occurring. You might have inched that nap too late in the day for your child. It doesn't have to be a big change of time rather it could be a period of just a half-hour later (previously 1pm, now its 1:30pm). Try reverting back to the original nap time or maybe even 15 minutes earlier than that time and see if your child goes down more quickly. If she does, you know she's not transitioning out of this nap quite yet. You may also consider taking toys or play items out of the crib if you think that might hamper the napping process.
If your child begins to regularly play during nap time and not sleep. Your child's one nap might be on its way out. It's important to see a pattern with this when you finally decide to end napping on a regular basis. If one day your child doesn't nap but does the next day, you might consider still giving her the opportunity to nap until she regularly doesn't take the nap. At this point, keep the nap in your back pocket so to speak, she might need one occasionally.
For the children whose naps during the transition to one nap occur earlier in the day it is still important to implement the earlier bedtime until that nap occurs closer to midday (6-6:30 or earlier if needed). Once that nap starts in the midday (12:30-1pm) and the nap is longer in duration then you can be more flexible with the bedtime 7pm. As your child approaches the no nap transition, again, you might have to implement the earlier bedtime. Especially when your child first drops that nap, the duration of wakefulness is so long that it is impossible to keep your child from becoming overtired. It's just a long day. At the beginning of this new stage a 6pm bedtime isn't unreasonable because your child will be tired at that time and even more tired if it's later. The earlier we have the bedtime, the better your child will be able to tolerate this long wakeful period. At this stage it is common for children to start waking up in the middle of the night. This is normal. Even with the earlier bedtime, at the beginning, your child is still a little bit overtired from this new "no napping" lifestyle. Be persistent with the early bedtime and this should cure the nightwakings because it will help your child stay rested through these long days. As your child gets older you can start adjusting the bedtime, maybe 1/2 hour later. I have observed that children who go to bed before 8pm have very little sleep problems; you be the judge (just a note).
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