Tackling The 2-to-1 Nap Transition Successfully With Your Twins (Guest Blogger)
Written by: Desiree Baird —a guest blogger, fellow twin mom, and certified sleep consultant
Did you know that during the first 18- 20 months a baby’s sleep needs will change most dramatically? Almost monthly, in fact. There are four major nap transitions that your twin babies will go through between birth and four years of age: the 4-to-3, the 3-to-2, the 2-to-1 and, finally, the 1-to-0 nap transitions.
Out of all of the nap transitions the 2-to-1 transition seems to be the toughest on toddlers. Why? Because your twins will go from being up for 3 hours at a time to nearly 5 hours at a time. That’s a big jump in “awake time” to adjust to for your little ones’ bodies. Additionally, your toddlers must be able to consolidate ALL of their day sleep needs into only one long nap.
So, how do you know if your twins are ready?
Below are some tell-tale signs that it’s the right time for the 2-to-1 nap transition:
Your twins are between the ages of 13 – 18 months old. The average age to transition is 15 months old. If your kids are younger than that, try to hold onto those two naps as long as you possibly can to make the transition go smoother. The older, the easier.
Timing of your little ones’ naps have changed so much that it has pushed bedtime very late and it’s affecting night sleep
Your toddlers are refusing either the morning or afternoon nap
You find that your twins used to wake up between 6:30-7:00am, and now they are waking before 6:00am
Naps have become significantly shorter than normal
Whatever you do, don’t rush the transition.
As mentioned earlier, the 2-to-1 nap transition can be the hardest on your babies as their little bodies have to get used to extended wake times. If you do the transition too early, then their bodies may not be ready and, instead, work against you by fighting sleep or taking one short catnap.
How long after the start of the tell-tale signs do you wait to make sure they’re really ready?
Once your twins are showing the signs mentioned above consistently for two weeks or more, then they are ready. If it’s only been a few days, don’t jump to the conclusion that it’s time to make the change just yet. A few days of bad naps or early awakenings could simply be a regression, teething milestones, or other reasons. I recommend first tracking your twins’ sleep to better distinguish their readiness. If they are showing any of the above signs for at least two weeks consistently, then--and only then--it is time to start the transition.
Just for the record, my twins transitioned to one nap around 19 months old. I held onto those two naps as long as possible! My third baby, on the other hand, transitioned when he was just over 14.5 months corrected. Since it seemed so early, I was in shock and disbelief! He showed all the signs for three weeks, though, before I finally gave in and knew it was time to make the change. Luckily, as a sleep coach, I knew how to make the transition smooth. With the twins, I honestly just got lucky and had a smooth transition with them, as well.
Keys to success
With any nap transition, you don’t want to move forward without a plan. It’s best to increase their “awake time” by only 15-minute increments at a time. Some parents prefer to just do the transition in a day or two. However, this often ends poorly and backfires. If you push your twins too hard, it can leave you with overtired toddlers who begin waking several times at night and even earlier in the morning. This is something you definitely want to avoid!
An example of how it’s done
So, let’s say your babies wake up naturally at 7:00am and typically take their first nap at 10:00am. For the first 5 days push them to 10:15am. If they wake before noon, then offer a catnap sometime between 3:00 – 4:00pm. If they refuse the catnap, then opt for an early bedtime around 5:30pm/6:00pm.
After 5 days, begin moving their nap to 10:30am, then pause on this for 5 days. Then--you guessed it--move the nap another 15 minutes to 10:45am and continue until you get to 5–5.5 hours of wake time in the morning. This means if your twins usually wake at 7:00am their nap should eventually begin between 12pm/12:30pm (or 5-5.5 hours after baby wakes for the day). In some cases, the transition can take up to 6 weeks. So, be patient and remember the rules about offering a catnap in the afternoon if their first nap was short.
As you go through this transition, have patience and be consistent. It’s not always straight-forward and can even be very troubling for some families. Luckily, there are sleep consultant resources, such as myself, that can help with this.
If you have questions or need assistance, then please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I work with clients regularly to ensure smooth nap transitions, to keep everyone well-rested, and to teach parents how to avoid disrupting sleep or causing new sleep habits that could lead to long-term sleep troubles. For further information about my sleep services you can view my webpage at www.pediatricsleepcoach.com. Best of luck!
Read another Twinside Scoop article about twin sleep written by Desiree here.
Desiree Baird is a certified sleep consultant and a mother of three. Her two eldest children are boy/girl twins. As a twin mom, Desiree experienced many sleepless nights the first 5 months of her twins’ life. She felt helpless and decided to study sleep on her own so that she could ensure her twins became better sleepers and were set up for success. Eight years later when Desiree became pregnant with her third baby, she decided to take her sleep education to the next level by becoming certified. Her mission is to help moms —especially twin moms — all over the world with sleep consulting. She resides in Seattle, WA. For more information, visit her website at www.pediatricsleepcoach.com and follow her on Instagram @the_sleepcoach.