Sleeping FAQ: 12-18 Months – Lunchtime Nap

My son is only 17 months old but doesn’t seem to need daytime sleep.

My son, Oliver, is 17 months old and weighs 11 kilos. He truly is a contented baby and has slept through the night since he was 5 weeks old. He has an excellent appetite and eats a wide range of food. We follow a mostly organic diet and use a number of the recipes from your weaning book – thank you Gina for all the great advice in your books. I am a working mum and Oliver spends the day with our nanny, Jill, and they have a excellent relationship. Jill follows the same routine as I do, we have a menu and a schedule.

Oliver sleeps from 7.15pm to around 7.45-8am, sometimes I have to wake him. If he wakes by himself he will happily chat in his crib for 10 to 15 minutes before I go into his room. He goes into his crib awake and settles himself to sleep every night.

His daytime sleep routine has always been a bit more of a challenge. As a baby on 3 naps he would sleep for an hour maximum and take a total of 2.5 hours in the day. We (myself or Jill) generally rock him to sleep in the rocking chair and then put him in his crib. He has never volunteered sleep during the day in spite of quiet time and wind-down periods, hence the rocking to sleep. He now takes one daytime nap at 1pm for 60-80 minutes maximum. He doesn’t get overtired, is rarely cranky. He used to go down around 12.30pm but we moved it on to 1pm when he began taking a long time to settle.

Ten days ago he refused to settle for his daytime nap. He cuddles as usual and eventually falls off to sleep after about 10 minutes, but when we put him in his crib he wakes and cries. We lift him and cuddle and rock over again. After 3 or 4 attempts he will stop cuddling and want to play. I am not aware of anything else changing in his routine that would have had a knock-on effect here. We have tried leaving him in his crib using the controlled crying method but he gets very upset to the point of being inconsolable.

It has always amazed me how differently he responds to sleep in the day versus night. I have tried in the past to eliminate the support to sleep during the day but have never been successful. We have tried making his nap later, even as late as after his afternoon snack but we get the same result. If he is in his stroller later in the afternoon (4pm-ish) he will take a catnap. It doesn’t seem to be affecting his mood or energy level but I worry that he isn’t getting enough sleep in total and it is so important to their development. I think he may have trimmed about 10-15 minutes of his night sleep as well.

Is he just early in giving up his daytime nap or should we persist in trying? I would love to hear your recommendations on how we get the nap back. It was only an hour but it was a welcome break for Jill.

As Oliver is showing no ill effects from dropping his daytime nap I think you are all going to have to accept that he has grown up quite quickly! Oliver does get up quite late so possibly waking him nearer to 7am might mean he would go down for a lunchtime nap.

I would suggest that you build a quiet time into Oliver’s day at the time he would normally go for a nap. Would he play in his cot for 45 minutes whilst you or Jill are doing jobs upstairs? Or perhaps you could begin to have a story session on the sofa after lunch so he is rested for the afternoon.

Toddlers who have just given up this nap do need careful watching for signs of over-tiredness. You may find he will need a shorter lunchtime nap every few days if he cannot manage to get through every day with only his afternoon catnap.