The magical nap. Many parents are sad to see it go. It can be a nice midday break for parents to have a little bit of time to themselves. At some point, however, you may notice a few key signs that would indicate that your toddler is ready to drop it.
The first key sign that your toddler is ready to ditch their nap is a straight-up refusal. Hang on a minute though! Throughout your young child’s development, there may be many times that they resist their nap. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s time to drop it. So how do you know this is a key sign? Look at your child’s age AND watch for a pattern. Most toddlers will drop their nap between 2.5-3.5 years old. So if your child is under 2.5, hang in there for a few weeks and see if their phase of resisting their nap passes. If your child is 2.5 or older and there is a consistent pattern of refusal, this could be a key sign that it’s time to give it up.
Taking a While to Fall Asleep
The second key sign is when your child starts to take a long time to fall asleep for the nap. This can then push the nap too late in the day and start to affect bedtime. All of a sudden bedtime gets pushed back later and later because it took your toddler 45 minutes to fall asleep.
Struggle at Bedtime
The third key sign is that your child is still napping like a champ but bedtime has become a struggle. They just don’t seem tired! If this is the case, again, consider the age of your child and look for a pattern. If this is happening over and over, consider dropping the nap.
If you decide to drop the nap, there are a few things to keep in mind. As your toddler makes the transition, they may be grumpier than usual. They may require an earlier bedtime for a few weeks as they adjust. Additionally, there may still be some days that they need a nap and that’s okay! We all need a bit of a catch-up sometimes. I’ve worked with many toddlers before that need a nap every second day or a nap on the weekend. Let your child take the lead with this. Watch for sleepy cues midday and make the decision day by day until they have adjusted.
Consider family quiet time. Just because the nap is gone, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a few minutes to yourself and your toddler will benefit from some calm too. Set up a quiet activity for them after lunch and make this part of your routine.
Are you struggling with toddler sleep? We’re here to help. Reach out to a Mama Coach near you for support.