Around 15 months old, many babies give up their morning naps and nap just once a day, during the afternoon. Depending on your daily schedule, you might greet this event with boos or cheers. If you spend a large chunk of your day out and about, it's easier to plan your day when you don't have to consider nap time. But if you enjoy a few periods of solitude each day while your baby naps, losing such valuable time may prove difficult.
The morning nap generally disappears between 15 and 18 months of age, according to Kim West, licensed family therapist, sleep specialist and author of "The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy." However, if your baby is an early riser, he might need a morning nap for a longer period of time; some babies still nap twice a day up to age 24 months, says Dr. William Sears, M.D., in his "Ask Dr. Sears" column on the "Parenting" magazine website.
During the early afternoon, a 1- to 3-year-old will typically take a one- to three-hour nap on most days as part of the 10 to 13 hours of sleep he needs each day, according to KidsHealth, a website dedicated to children's health. If your child sleeps for a longer amount of time or takes his naps too late in the afternoon, he may struggle to fall asleep during the night. Be consistent, and put your child down for his nap around the same time each day as this will help him settle into a healthy sleep routine.
The time period when your baby switches from two naps to one can be difficult for the both of you. He will probably be tired before his previous afternoon nap time, but going down for a nap too early can make him cranky by the early evening. Transition over several days to a one-nap schedule by pushing back his morning nap by 1/2-hour at a time, West suggests. This might also mean adjusting his feeding schedule so he doesn't wake up hungry.
Napping might have benefits that extend far beyond preventing general crankiness in the evening hours. Napping might help babies learn and retain information. A University of Arizona study published in the November 2009 issue of "Developmental Science" reported that 15-month-old children who napped within four hours after exposure to an artificial language remembered the general pattern of the language 24 hours later, while those who didn't nap didn't recognize the language pattern after 24 hours. Naps might help your baby assimilate information and store it in long-term memory.