The 13-Month-Old Nap Schedule and Daycare — How to Make it Work

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  • July 30, 2017
13-month-old nap schedule

Hi. I’m Kim West, The Sleep Lady, and in this video I’m going to answer Sally’s question about an appropriate 13-month-old nap schedule for her child in daycare (nursery). Here’s what she wrote in:

My daughter is 13 months-old and she started nursery three weeks ago. Now she’s sleeping only in the morning for an hour-and-a-half, and refuses to take the afternoon nap. Her bedtime is at 7:30.  Before nursery, she used to have two naps totaling 3 hours sleep 11 to 12 hours at night. Now, she’s sleeping 9 to 10 hours at night and an hour-and-a-half in the morning. What do you think is happening? Is it anxiety? Is she ready for this transition? Please help me. I’m really worried about her because she’s cranky all the time.

A Big Adjustment

Sally, starting nursery or childcare is a huge adjustment for both of you! Please ask nursery providers how they are putting her to sleep for the nap. I understand if you’re not convinced that she’s ready to go to one nap, because she’s a little on the young side. The average age to transition to one nap is 15 to 18 months. Here are a couple of options:

Option 1: One Nap at Nursery

If her nursery program puts all toddlers over 1 year on one nap a day (very common) but you don’t think she is ready, then at home — on the weekend — give her two naps a day. Keep the morning nap to 45 minutes on those days at home to preserve enough sleep pressure for the afternoon nap.

Option 2: Two Naps at Nursery

If the daycare (the nursery) is open to her having two naps a day, but is having difficulty getting her to take a second nap, then suggest to them that they wake her after 45 minutes in the morning nap and then do whatever they can to get her to take the afternoon nap.

RELATED: Baby and Child Sleep: Sample Schedules From 6 Months to Preschool

Ask Questions About Naptime

Find out what they’re doing to get her to take a nap. Are they patting her to sleep or shushing or singing or holding her to sleep? That could be part of the issue, too. But give them permission to do that for now, especially in the afternoon. You want them to fill the daytime sleep tank anyway they can.

Make Bedtime Earlier For Now

You might need to have a slightly earlier bedtime during this transition because it will take some time for you to see success in the nursery school with the afternoon nap. She might need to be in bed at 7pm.

Stay With Her

Because of this adjustment with nursery, and since you are starting to see problems with naps and at night, I would recommend you stay with her and do the Sleep Lady Shuffle. She needs to know that you’re there. I’m sure you’re right that there is some separation anxiety and worrying about “where is mommy now?”

Good luck, Sally.


Kim West
Kim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 24 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. She is the author of The Sleep Lady's Good Night Sleep Tight, its companion Workbook and 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies. Click here to read more about her.

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