When & How to Leave Naps in the Past
Toddlers are high spirited, energetic, and adventurous. While this makes it fun to watch them grow and experience the world, you probably also enjoy those little breaks you get at naptime. But as they say… all good things must come to an end – and that includes afternoon naps.
In their first 18 months of life, babies go from needing around 5-7 naps a day to just one afternoon nap a day. But when do you officially drop naps altogether? That age can vary, so we’ve put together this guide to help you decide when and how to leave naps in the past for your child.
When will my child stop napping?
There’s no exact age that a child should stop taking an afternoon nap. It all comes down to their individual energy level, how much they are sleeping at night, and how active they are during the day. While one child may drop naps completely at age 2-3, others might continue needing them until they are 5-7.
3 signs that your toddler may be ready to drop naps
Instead of relying on a specific age to skip naptime, you should look for signs that your child is ready. Here are some things you may start to notice:
- They have consistent trouble falling asleep at naptime
A classic sign that your toddler doesn’t need naps anymore is if they genuinely aren’t tired at naptime. Try to skip the nap if your toddler is showing this behaviour to see if they really don’t need one.
- They have consistent trouble falling asleep at bedtime
If bedtime rolls around and your child is not tired, they are probably ready for more awake time during the day. If you decide to try taking away the nap because of this, remember to also push bedtime a little bit earlier.
- They consistently skip a nap with no signs of tiredness
If your toddler ends up skipping their nap completely (whether due to a daily routine disruption or they choose to keep playing at naptime) and their mood stays stable throughout the rest of the day, this may be a sign that they simply don’t need the nap anymore.
How to transition from 1 nap a day to no naps a day
If you think your child is ready to stop napping, there are a couple ways you can go about transitioning to nap-free days.
- Gradually drop the naps
You don’t have to cut naps off cold turkey. Instead, cut back the length of the nap about 15 minutes each day and evaluate how your child reacts. If they do well, keep going until they don’t nap at all.
- Switch up your daily routines
Remember that when the afternoon nap stops, your child may start getting drowsy around 4pm-5pm. At this time, you’ll want to schedule some exciting activities and avoid car or stroller rides since falling asleep at this time can mess with bedtime.
Also remember that their bedtime will get earlier without the afternoon nap! So start putting your toddler to sleep a couple hours earlier to make sure that they are getting all the sleep they need.
- Switch naptime for quiet time
Instead of a naptime, offer your toddler quiet time. This is when you put them in their bed or their room alone with a few toys or books and let them choose to play or just rest (or nap if they need to that day). It could be helpful to have designated “quiet time” toys to get your toddler more eager.
Remember, transitioning to no naps can be a two steps forward, one step back kind of process. Your child may go three days without a nap perfectly fine but on that fourth day, they may really need it. In the end, trust your instincts and allow your toddler to recharge when they need to. They’ll eventually run on no naps all on their own!