Around 3 years old, children may begin showing signs they are ready to drop the nap completely. How will you know if your child is ready? I’ve outlined the typical signs we see below. However, it is important to remember that toddlers will be toddlers and fight naps here and there. If you are consistently seeing these signs for at least 2 WEEKS, that is when you will know they are truly ready to drop the nap.
What to look for:
1. Fighting Sleep at Bedtime.
If your child is getting good, quality sleep at night plus taking a nap, they may be maxing out on their total 24-hour sleep need. Consistently fighting bedtime or taking longer to fall asleep (more than 20 minutes) is a good sign that the day sleep is cutting into their night sleep. At 3-5 years of age, your child needs a total of 10.5-12 hours of total sleep in a 24-hour period. If they’re getting consolidated sleep at night, the nap may just no longer be needed.
2. Consistently fighting nap time.
As I said above, if your child is getting the required amount of night sleep, nap time is not going to come easy. In general, day sleep doesn’t come as naturally as night sleep, so your toddler may fight this nap here and there. If you are struggling for 2 or more weeks to make this nap happen, it’s time to transition.
This is not an easy transition. You will notice some changes in behavior throughout the day and around bedtime while making this transition. While this is normal, we can also be proactive and help make this transition a little easier for your tot.
Here’s how you can help:
1) EARLY BEDTIMES!
This is crucial in helping your child make this transition. Their little bodies are accustomed to a nap during the day, even if they don’t necessarily “need” the nap anymore. A temporary early bedtime will prevent your child from getting overtired during this transition and adjust to their new sleep schedule. Shift bedtime so your child is in bed 30 - 60 minutes earlier than their normal bedtime.
** Remember this transition can take a few weeks or even a month to fully come together. An early bedtime is temporary. Its purpose is to help their bodies adjust changes in their schedule. As they adjust, move this bedtime back by 15 minutes every 2-3 nights until you are back on your normal bedtime.
2) Practice at least 30 minutes of quiet time.
While your child may no longer need a daytime nap, they still do need some time to chill out and give their brain a little break. Ideally, quiet time will take place at their normal nap-time, but doesn’t have to take place in their bedroom. Simply choose a quiet space to do quiet activities like reading, puzzles, or coloring. Avoid electronics or stimulating toys for the duration of their quiet time. The goal is to give their brain a break. Save those for later or after quiet time.
If you’re child can’t quite sit quietly for 30 minutes yet, then build up to it! Start with a smaller number like 10 minutes. Set a timer (I love these sand timers) so your child knows the expectation and build up to longer periods by adding 5-10 minutes every few days. If you’re able to build it up to an hour, great! More mommy time! As long as you get in at least 30-minutes of quiet play, your little one will be much better for it!
We all need a break during the day to refresh and regroup. Quiet time is the perfect alternative for nap time! If you need help or have questions about nap transitions at any age, I would love to connect with you. Contact me here for a Free 15-Minute Introductory Call.