We work with a lot of toddlers who are on the cusp of dropping their daytime nap. This can be a tricky transition, both for your child and for you! As parents we fully appreciate how sacred those couple of hours can be during the day to get things done, or simply have some ‘me’ time. However, dropping the nap doesn’t have to be something to dread, and can often make daytime more flexible in terms of organising family life and not having to worry about nap times. That said, it is important to make this transition when your little one is truly ready:
The transition to no nap generally occurs between ages 2 ½ and 3. Your little one can continue napping as long as it isn’t interfering with a solid 11 to 12 hours of night-time sleep. One way to hold off on dropping it completely is to ‘cap’ the duration of the nap to 60-90 minutes. Also make sure it does not go too late into the day. You can experiment with the timings but cutting off between 2-3pm would be appropriate. If you are already doing this and it is still interfering with bedtime, it may be time to make the leap.
Signs that your little one may be ready to drop their nap:
- Occasionally little ones start fighting nap time
- More often than not they start stalling, playing, and generally fighting going to sleep at bedtime, during the night or early in the morning (before 6am).
- If you have had two weeks of the above behaviour then your little one is probably ready to drop their nap.
How to drop the nap when the time is right:
- Once you decide to drop the nap, begin implementing “quiet time” in place of nap time. Take a few quiet activities into your child’s room and explain that they can play by themselves until quiet time is over. This is the new rule and it needs to be enforced. Set a timer in their room and let them know that they cannot come out until the timer goes off. Start with 10-15 minutes and work up to an hour, you may need to stay with them initially whilst they get used to this new idea.
- Offer a snack with some natural sugars when it is getting later in the afternoon. This will give your child a natural boost.
- Expect your child to be a little grouchy during this transition.
- There may be days where your child ends up falling asleep during quiet time. This is okay! It is a big transition.
- You may need to tweak your schedule to allow for a solid 12 hour night, so this may mean an earlier bedtime.
- Full adjustment to this transition can take up to 6 weeks.
If your child is experiencing difficulties with dropping their nap, adjusting to the transition, or any other sleep difficulties, please do not hesitate to get in touch.