Going from two naps to one is not rocket science, but it sure can seem as difficult


Zach slept through his first haircut ever (in March).  He never even opened his eyes.  My friend took pictures to prove it (and if she gets them to me, I will post one here).  It happened because he was transitioning from taking two naps to one, and he had been up too long, and he – was – zonked.  And more than three months later, he is still transitioning from two naps to one.  For every day he takes one nap, he has a day he takes two.

Changing from two naps to one happens around 15-months: the same time a child is teething either some molars or canines or both.  This is cause for extreme parental confusion because you often can’t tell if the child is over-tired and cranky or in pain, or both (which is SUPER fun for you, the parent).  There is no math formula you can use to deduce the answer of how and when to do it (as it is for many aspects of parenting, which drives someone like me crazy).

Maybe this hasn’t been your experience, but I found that with my first child, I often felt helpless because I didn’t really figure out what was wrong with Eliza until whatever the problem was had been resolved for a few days.  You can watch for the signs of teething, and your baby might have them all: low-grade fever, excessive drooling, spitting up, orneriness, and gnawing on anything he can get his hands on like your jewelry, furniture, the dog’s bones, and everything that’s NOT a teething toy (because neither of my kids actually wanted to chew on something meant for chewing).  But until you see that tooth start to come through the gums, you wonder if your child is getting sick, or has cancer, or has decided you’re a horrible parent and you can no longer console her because she wants a new mom.

So when Eliza started fighting taking a nap in the morning around 13 months, I thought she was in pain because she was teething, so  I continued my two nap schedule.  (And I probably pushed a bit more ibuprofen than the poor thing ever needed, but when you’re beyond done listening to screaming, you’ll medicate in case pain is causing the relentless episode.  Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about.)  I tried to force her to sleep in the morning, and she would cry in her crib for, like, dozens of minutes.  And then she’d get so exhausted that she would crash at about 11 a.m. and take a three-hour nap.  And thus, she’d skip a nap altogether in the afternoon, and I finally put two-and-two together.  So after about a month of fighting her to take two naps, I gave in and at 14-months, she was taking one, nice long afternoon nap.  (It was easy to push her one nap about 10-15 minutes later every day for a few weeks until it was around 1 p.m.)

Of course my experience with Zach has been completely different because he’s 18-months-old and – as I mentioned above – he still naps twice some days.  But I’m much more likely to let him make the decision instead of force him to take a nap he clearly doesn’t want to take.  I know he’s a different child, but I’m also a different parent, too.

I was more rigid with Eliza, thinking, “You need a nap right now.  I know you do because you do every day at this time.  So you’re going to sleep even if you cry for 45 minutes.”  Now I can take Zach’s cues a little better and go with the flow a bit more.  But I will say he’s the more sensitive to pain of my two kids, so the fact that he’s been transitioning from two naps to one for several months has meant that he has teethed through all four molars and all four canines in the process, and that’s thrown me for a bit of a loop.

That said, I think I see a light at the end of this – in the scheme of things – short tunnel.  Until now, on the days Zach has been taking only one nap, he seems unable to take a LONG nap.  But he’s finally extending the length of the one nap, so I think we’re almost there.

It’s a good thing, because he already needs another haircut, and I don’t want to schedule one until I have a better idea of when he’ll be awake and when he’ll be asleep.