First of all, we need to be familiar with the age at which this tends to occur. I find that a good average age is somewhere around the 13th month.
I have seen babies go as early as nine months, and I've also seen babies hang on to two naps a day until well into the 17th or 18th month. But if you are looking for an average, I would say 13 months.
Number one sign is that your baby will usually lengthen their morning nap. In fact, most people find that it becomes longer than it has ever been. The trouble arrives when you put her down for that afternoon nap, and she just won't take it. Either she plays all the way through it or she alternates between playing and some crying or she just flat out starts to cry from out of nowhere. Those are some things that you'll start to see.
Now, the tricky part about all of this is that those signs won't show up every single day. You'll find that you'll have three or four times in a row where she doesn't take her afternoon nap, you'll start to think to yourself, 'OK, it must be time to drop that nap', and then for three days in a row, she takes both naps beautifully. That can really throw people off.
A good rule of thumb is if you notice this happening at least five days a week, then that is a good sign that it's probably time to make the switch. Don’t get caught out though! This needs to be going on for at least two to three weeks, because it can just be a developmental milestone; if she's learning a new skill, it can throw nap time off for a week or two. I would say, four or five times a week, and at least two to three weeks consecutively that this has been happening, then you can go ahead and make the switch.
Now, a little bit of caution on making the switch: you can't just jump from a 10 o'clock nap to, all of a sudden, a 1 o'clock nap. That would be too hard on your little one's body clock and they will get so overtired that by the time you try for that nap, it's going to be trouble. My advice is that you slowly start to move the morning nap to a later time. I'd suggest that you move 30 minutes every three days. If it's 10 o'clock, you move it to 10:30 for three days, then you move it to 11:00 for three days, 11:30 and so on, until it hits about 12:30.
I find around 12-12:30 is the perfect time for nap time. You can give them lunch and then put them to bed knowing they have a nice full stomach and will sleep well.
If you're struggling with your little one's nap schedule and are thinking about booking a sleep support package, book a free phone consultation with me to chat about what might be right for your family.