When and How to Drop Your Child’s Nap

It’s happening. Your little one is getting older. They’re not a baby anymore, and (gulp) they seem ready to stop napping. 

If you found this post and your child is ready to drop a nap but not their last nap, I’ve written about that too. You can find the 3-to-2 nap transition info here and the 2-to-1 transition info here.

Now, back to dropping the nap altogether. I remember thinking it would be weird to have my son up ALL day. Naps are so sweet, and I would miss the break. But I also knew that life would be easier, not having to worry about his nap. Still, I wanted to ensure the transition was as smooth as possible. If you feel that way too, this post is for you. 

When does this happen?

The last nap can disappear when your little one is anywhere from two to five years old. However, most kids are truly ready at age three or four. 

Sometimes children will seem like they’re ready around two and a half, but you’ll notice that they’re a mess in the late afternoon if they don’t nap. That’s because they do still need to sleep in the middle of the day. This usually occurs because the timing of their nap has become too flexible. Get consistent with their nap schedule and they will probably go back to napping for another few months (or even longer). 

What are the signs that your little one is ready to stop napping?

They refuse to fall asleep at nap-time consistently for a couple of weeks, or they still nap but now can’t fall asleep at a reasonable bedtime. 

How do you make the transition as easy as possible?

If your child is still napping but it’s affecting their ability to go to sleep at bedtime, you can limit their nap to a shorter duration. For example, if they’re napping for two hours a day, wake them after an hour. 

However, if they’re not napping at all, or any amount of daytime sleep negatively impacts their nighttime sleep, take the nap away. 

There are two things that will allow your little one to get through this change without becoming overtired:

  1. Quiet time – even though the nap is gone, your child will still need to rest in the early afternoon. Offer quiet time for an hour or two, so their bodies can recharge. My favourite way to spend quiet time with my sons when they were younger was to watch a movie in bed with them. Sometimes they would even fall asleep briefly. If you’re not able to do that (or don’t want to), they can play quietly in a slightly darkened, quiet room.
  1. An earlier bedtime – until they are used to being awake all day, your child may need to go to bed a bit earlier. If they are falling apart in the early evening, this is a sign that an earlier bedtime is necessary.

If you’re like I was and the thought of your little one no longer napping is troubling, look forward to quiet time with them. I miss those moments. They’re so special. 

Now, please excuse me. I need to go and ask my kids if they’ll watch a movie with me.

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Rachel Ross

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