There comes a time in a mother’s life when a few tears are expected, common and totally understandable. This is the time when your child is ready to drop naps all together. There is nothing more sad for you as when your toddler stops napping *sniff*.
Are you wondering when your child is ready to lose the nap?
There is some nap resistance around 2 – 2.5 years of age where children are developing at a rapid pace and realize the world goes on without them when they sleep.
Don’t be fooled by these strong emotions at nap time and give in to the “no nap’ at this age. You can read more about the The 2 Year Old Sleep Regression here.
The consequence of dropping the nap too early is a 2 year old who is really cranky and hard to deal with. The non napping 2 year old is NOT a pleasant creature to deal with.
Children are not ready to drop all naps until somewhere between 3 and 4 years of age.
The main sign that your child is ready to drop the afternoon nap is that she no longer falls asleep at her regular bedtime. It becomes increasingly difficult to fall asleep. Most commonly, she doesn’t fall asleep until around 9:30 pm at night and you lose all that precious evening “me time”. Painful!
What can you do?
You can start by limiting the nap by waking her up after 1 – 1.5 hours of nap time. You must be gentle when waking her up as most kids don’t like it too much. You can go in to her room, gently call to her, open her blinds, peel back the blankets and then leave. Its easier for her if she rouses on her own. Then return to her room, and gently try to rouse her again for a couple of minutes, leave and repeat.
Limiting the nap should help with the curbing the late bedtime. You might have to sit in this limited nap time for a few days to a few weeks. Let her get used to less daytime sleep before you remove the nap completely.
Remember that no nap transition is black and white. It does not happen that one day she’s a napper and the next day she’s not. It will take some time. I find the strategy of limiting nap for a couple of weeks helpful to let their bodies adjust. That’s assuming she’ll still go down for an afternoon nap.
The other sign your baby is ready to drop the afternoon nap, is that she just isn’t tired at nap time. You can set up a “quiet time’ in her room. Gro clocks or “Teach Me Time” clocks, pictured here, are great for this as you can still give her a boundary that she has to play quietly in her room for 1 hour. She can come out when the sun comes up on her gro clock.
If she won’t nap in the afternoon at all, then you must bump bedtime up much earlier immediately. When she won’t nap, her bedtime might be 6 pm with a 6:30 pm asleep time. She’s going to need to get a full 12 hours of sleep overnight when dropping a nap.
If you are limiting the nap, you will still have her falling asleep before that 9:30 pm nightmare but later than her pre-existing bedtime.
Whenever you have a nap transition, you must always compensate with an earlier bedtime until her body gets used to less daytime sleep.
If you find your child is starting to wake up at 5 am, referred to as an Early Wake Up, then she is waking up because she’s overtired, and you need to get her to bed earlier at night.
Two points I want you to remember:
- No nap transition is black and white, it will take a few weeks.
- Anytime you have a nap transition, you have to bump bedtime up earlier to accommodate for the lost napping hours until her body gets used to it.
Overall, this is a tough nap transition. Its hard because your well established schedule is in flux. Don’t scheduled too much and give her time to adapt.