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Is your child ready to drop their nap completely?

Are you wondering if your child is close to dropping their nap completely? Are you feeling anxious about this impending nap transition from 1 to 0 naps? I know I was! My goal with this blog post is to help ease your fears and arm you with all the information you need so you can feel confident when this time does come. 

The transition from 1 nap to 0 naps can be a little daunting but you have lots of options and with a little time and a little patience you and your child will soon settle into a new rhythm. While you may feel sad that you’re losing your daily nap time, it can be a good reminder to look back over the last couple of years and see how much your child has developed and changed.

In this blog post about dropping the final nap, we’ll talk about:

  1. When you can expect this nap transition

  2. Signs that your child is ready to drop their nap completely

  3. How to navigate the transition

  4. Why you should still offer a daily rest or quiet time

When you can expect this nap transition

Most children will stop napping sometime between 3 and 4 years. You know your child best and you probably have a good handle by this point on whether they tend to have higher sleep needs or lower sleep needs. If your child has higher sleep needs, it’s likely they will be closer to 4 years before they need to drop their nap. If your child has lower sleep needs, it’s likely they may need to drop their nap shortly after their 3rd birthday.

However, I do want to point out that it’s not uncommon for toddlers around 2 years old to go through periods of nap resistance or nap refusal. This is often associated with an increase in boundary testing and their newfound independence but that doesn’t mean your 2 year old is ready to stop napping. If your child is under 3 years and going through a period of skipping their naps, really work on consistency on your end. Keep offering and enforcing that daily nap time- even if your child chooses not to nap during that time. The nap will come back within a few days or weeks and you’ll be thankful you didn’t throw naptime out the window too early.

Because there can be such a big age range with when children are ready to drop their nap completely, let’s move on and talk about what signs you should look for.

Signs that your child is ready to drop their nap completely

There may be several signs that your child is ready to drop their last nap but the biggest sign is just that they are not falling asleep for their nap at all. This should be a pattern that you notice day after day for at least a week (if not more) rather than just a random time here or there. If your child is just not tired enough to fall asleep for their nap anymore, it’s also worth trying to push the nap start time later by 15-30 minutes to see if that helps. After you’ve tried that, if your child is still continuing to skip their nap, then the transition to zero naps is already made for you!

The next most noticeable sign that your child is ready is if they are still taking a nap but then when bedtime rolls around they are struggling to fall asleep. You may feel like your child who usually goes to bed by 7:30pm is now tossing and turning at bedtime until 8:30pm or later. This is a huge signal that your child isn’t having enough time after their nap to build up the sleep pressure they need to sleep at night.

Some other signals that naptime needs to go are unusual night wakings that have popped up, unusual early morning wake ups, and even your child waking extremely cranky after their nap and it negatively affecting the rest of their day.

So you’ve noticed a pattern with these signs for 1-2 weeks and you know that it’s time to drop the remaining nap, how do we go about it?

How to navigate the transition

As we already talked about, your child may just be done napping on their own and maybe you're in that spot as you’re reading this. In that case, the transition has already happened because, let’s face it, no matter how much you want to, you can’t force your child to nap. So if your child has completely stopped napping on their own, congratulations! Your hands are tied and the transition is over. 

But you do want to be offering bedtime earlier than you did when they still napped. As a general rule, you want to provide them the opportunity to get at least 12 hours of overnight sleep if they are done napping. That means if your child is usually waking at 7am for the day, you’ll want to offer bedtime by 7pm at the latest. This can really help to minimize the overtiredness as their body adjusts to no nap.

If your child is still napping a couple times a week but no longer regularly like before, then you have a bit more wiggle room during this transition. You can take your time a bit more- especially if you know your child to be pretty sensitive to schedule changes.

This may look like gradually capping their nap by 10-15 minutes every couple of days to see if it helps with any bedtime resistance. You can continue doing this until the nap is shortened to about 60 minutes. After that, then it’s time to either cut the nap completely or start to create nap days and no nap days each week. This works especially well if you have a couple mornings where you know you’re extra busy and they will be tired and want to nap. Or if your child attends daycare or preschool and is still napping well there. 

I recommend making a visual chart that shows each day of the week and which days will be nap days and which days will be no nap days. Try to include your child in this process as well. They could help create the chart, decorate it, or even help you pick out which days will be nap days. Then over the coming days or weeks or months, that schedule can adjust and change to include more no nap days and less nap days.

You may be wondering what you should do with your child on the no nap days. Quiet time! Keep reading below for more tips on how to navigate quiet time with your child.

Why you should still offer a daily rest or quiet time

The biggest concern I hear from parents when they think their child is ready to drop the nap is, “But I really need that time to myself each day!” and I totally get that. It is hard work being a parent all day long and oftentimes, looking forward to naptime and bedtime is the only thing getting us parents through the day!

Believe it or not, being a child is hard work as well and even if your child is done napping, they still desperately need to unwind and relax themselves in the middle of the day. Because both parents and children still need this time built in each day, daily quiet time can be a great answer to these concerns.

Quiet time can occur in the afternoon (usually right when nap was previously occurring) or you can line it up with a sibling who naps. Honestly, since we aren’t expecting your child to nap during quiet time, you can place it wherever it makes the most sense in your day. Quiet time is for your child to practice independent play in their room and have a break from the go, go, go mindset for a bit. I’ve written more about quiet time in a previous blog post so I’m going to link that here for you to browse: Introducing a Quiet Time

Hopefully, you feel significantly more prepared for this transition from 1 to 0 naps now! I know it can feel like a scary and sad transition, but it doesn’t have to be. Use these tips to guide you as you seamlessly drop the last nap and help your child adjust to quiet time instead.

If you feel you could use a helping hand as you navigate this transition, feel free to reach out!


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