Creating Sleeping Beauty, Part 3

by Meghan

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Sleep… you will never talk about how much your child sleeps, or more likely, doesn’t sleep, as you do in those first few weeks you bring your child home from the hospital. Or when they consolidate down to one nap. Or when they learn to stand up in the crib, and choose to walk around and scream instead of sleep. Or when they start waking up at 5AM no matter what time you put them to bed. Or when they give up napping altogether. Basically, my girlfriends and I have been talking about how much, or how little, our kids sleep since they were born. Part 1 featured tips for getting your baby to sleep during infancy. Part 2 covers the rest of the first year. Today, Part 3 covers the early toddler sleep schedule.

Toddler Sleep Schedule - Transitioning to One Nap Per Day

Toddler Sleep Schedule: 12-18 months

I like to refer to babyhood as the honeymoon period of babies. Infancy is tough, but babyhood is fun, relatively easy and you mind somehow erases the memories of labor and sleepless nights. My first was no different. Then, the week before her first birthday, my perfect eater, napper, nighttime sleeper threw me for a loop.

I remember exactly because my husband and I had just returned from our first trip away, and she had spent the week with Grandma. The first day we were home, I put her down for her afternoon nap, looked on the monitor and was shocked when I saw her standing up in her crib. She stood all the time during the day, but she was always the type that was not very brave on her own, without a hand to help her out. I texted my mother-in-law to find out if she had been doing this while we were gone – she hadn’t.

She was not only standing, she was pacing along the rail, screaming bloody murder and throwing her wubbanub and blankie, her two necessary sleeping accessories, overboard. I spent a week refusing to admit that she was giving up her second daily nap at just a year old. Every day she would go down for her morning nap, grab her wubba and blankie and go right to sleep… then she would refuse her afternoon nap and be a miserable tyrant for most of the late afternoon and evening. That weekend, she took her first steps, turned one and I finally admitted she was consolidating to one nap a day.

This time, I didn’t find any bibles. I knew most kids took one afternoon nap a day, and she had clearly told me she was giving up her afternoon nap, so I just started pushing her morning nap back later and later, 15 minutes every day, until it was after lunch. I also started pushing her bedtime back, from 7PM to 7:30PM, which helped her wake up later in the morning and made transitioning to one, later nap easier too. And for the next six months, Sleeping Beauty slept like a dream: one 2-3 hour nap a day, and 11-12 hours at night, like clockwork.

The babyhood honeymoon returned, we convinced ourselves we could handle a second child, and then, when I was 5 months pregnant with Lil’ M, the 18 month sleep regression hit… but that’s a story for another day!

As with all things kid-related, every child is different… But this is what worked for me during babyhood and early toddlerhood.  You can find all the posts in our Sleep Series here.  If you enjoyed this series, you might also like my Transitions series, featuring all of early childhood’s milestones and how to manage through them – from moving to a big kid bed and potty training, to giving up naps altogether!

If you can’t take one more sleepless night, hopefully you find something in all of this that can work for you too! My girlfriends all swear my first is the mellowest, easiest baby in the world and that is why she is such a good sleeper, eater, etc. As an uber Type A personality, I like to hope all my hours of parenting research and implemented practices have played some role, and #2 certainly put it to the test!

Let us know if any of this helped you or if you have your own tips to share and help a fellow sleep-deprived mama out!

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional or a trained sleep therapist.  The opinions expressed above are merely my advice based on my experience as a mother with two young children.

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