At some point in their childhood, your little one is going to ditch naptime. And for every child, this looks a little different.
If your youngest needs naptime a little longer than your first child did – that’s okay and perfectly normal. Depending on your child, the need for naptime changes. Here are a few ways to tell if your child is ready to ditch the naps:
They start to fight naptime
This can look several different ways: they won’t stay in bed, it takes them a while to fall asleep, they keep getting up, they call out to you, or they can simply just tell you they don’t want to take a nap. Now use your parental judgement on that last one. We all know that a toddler can say they don’t want a nap, but you know they genuinely need one. However, if this behavior repeats for several days or weeks, then your child just might be ready to ditch naptime.
They can survive a no-nap-day without a traumatic meltdown
Sometimes, naps are impossible. It may be you’re at an event all day or running errands and there’s just no way for them to nap. Use this time to evaluate their mood without a nap. If they make it through the day, no traumatic meltdown, and nothing seems out of the norm – then your child just might be ready to ditch naptime.
They stay up later at bedtime or get up earlier in the mornings
If naptime is still a part of the daily routine and your child seems to be staying up later and later with more energy, you might need to consider ditching naptime. Sleep is necessary for your child’s cognitive and physical development. A toddler around the age of 3 should be getting 12-13 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. This means that if your child is taking a 3 hour nap every day and going to bed later or waking up earlier than usual the next day – then your child just might be ready to ditch naptime.
They are playing instead of sleeping during naptime
If your child spends naptime wide-awake playing with toys, that might be a sign that their body physically doesn’t need naptime. Normally if you put a toddler down for a nap they might occasionally play or fight their nap, but eventually their body will tire out and they sleep. But if your toddler is spending the entirety of their naptime doing anything but sleeping – your child just might be ready to ditch naptime.
If you think your child is ready to transition out of naps, here are a few tips for a smoother transition
- Don’t quit cold-turkey
A sudden change in your child’s daily routine might throw them for a loop. It’s better to slowly transition out of naptime so your child has time to adjust. Start calling it “rest time” and decrease it by 30 minutes every week or couple of days. This way your child is still getting some down time during the day, even though they may not be sleeping.
- Make bedtime a little earlier
Even though naptime is no longer in the picture, your child still needs an adequate amount of sleep. If they seem overly cranky at night, try and make bedtime earlier by 30 minutes to an hour to accommodate for the lack of sleep during the day.
- Be flexible
Some days your child might need to take a nap, even though “naptime” isn’t a part of their daily routine. If you see that your child is physically exhausted or acting out of the norm, then an occasional nap may do some good in your household. Let’s be honest, sometimes adults need naps too, so it probably isn’t wise to ban naps altogether.