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2 Signs it is Time to Drop a Nap

Knowing the right time to make a nap transition can be tricky! Just when you get into a good grove, it’s time for another change, am I right? Making the transition too early will result in lost sleep and overtiredness, but….making it too late can lead to undertiredness and disruptions in night sleep. I know how confusing and overwhelming it can feel, so to make it easier for you, here are 2 very common signs to look for when that time comes!

Before we jump in, it is important to remember that children will go through brief spells of fighting sleep here and there. It is very common to see sleep disruptions when your child is learning a new skill, like walking or language acquisition, or during big life changes, like starting daycare or welcoming a new sibling. This is normal and not an indication that you need to drop a nap. Typically, once your child adjusts to new skills and routines, sleep will go back to normal!

If you are currently a naptime rut and not sure if it is time to drop a nap, I want you to look for these 2 signs:

1. Fighting Sleep at Naptimes

This can look different for every child. Some children might simply talk or play in their bed, while others might cry for long periods of time. If your child is on 2 naps, they may take a morning nap, but not an afternoon nap (or vice versa). Older children may begin to tantrum at naptime or tell you they’re not tired. If your child was able to fall asleep within 10-15 minutes and is now taking longer than 20 minutes to fall asleep this is a sign they are undertired and need more time to build enough sleep pressure for quality, restorative sleep.

2. Early Morning Wakings

If your child is waking between 4:00-6:00 am ready to start the day, then they may be getting too much day sleep. If your child is getting too much sleep at naptimes, it will begin to affect their night sleep because their body has met their total sleep needs. (Total sleep is counted in a 24-hour period) Day sleep is important, but night sleep is the most restorative sleep, so we want to protect it! If your child is waking ready to start the day between 4:00-6:00am then we need to look at their total sleep in a 24-hour period. Dropping a nap and transitioning to the next stage can help extend sleep through the night and early mornings!

According to the Sleep Foundation, average total sleep needs by age are: 4 to 11 Months: 12 -15 hours 12 months to 2 years: 11 – 14 hours 3 to 5 years: 10 – 13 hours

If you are seeing these signs, begin tracking your child’s sleep and do this for 2 weeks. Making the transition too early will result in lost sleep and overtiredness. Tracking sleep will help you make this determination. If your child continues presenting these signs for at least 2 weeks, then you will know it is time to transition to one nap. If the struggles resolve after a few days, stick with their current nap schedule a little longer.

Keep in mind, these are average age ranges. Every child’s sleep needs are different, so some may need to transition sooner, and some will be later and that’s okay! The best thing to do when you get into a naptime rut is to 1) stay the course and 2) begin tracking their sleep. Take notes about how long it took to fall asleep, how long they slept, and their mood before and after their nap. If you are seeing the same trends of fighting sleep and sour moods for 2 weeks or more, it is time to make a change!

Not sure how to make the transition? I would love to help! With my 1:1 support I will create a personalized plan with an age-appropriate schedule and a step-by-step action plan for how to move forward and get your family back to restful sleeps! Contact me here to get started!


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