How To Know If It’s Time To Give Up Naps

I love to look in on my toddlers when they are sleeping. They look so peaceful. But it’s getting to be a challenge to get them to nap in the afternoons anymore. It’s partly because they are both in the same room, but also because they are starting to outgrow their afternoon nap. (Noooooo!)

But how do you know if they really are ready? Don’t they still need that sleep? I remember going through these same conversations with myself with my older children. Here are a few tips to know if your toddlers are ready to skip that afternoon nap, and how to save your sanity if they are ready.

  1. They could be ready if they are getting enough sleep at night. The National Sleep Foundation estimates that toddlers (age 1-2) need between 11 and 14 hours. Preschoolers (ages 3-5), need between 10-13 hours. Now, since these hours are just guidelines, your child may need more or less. But keep in mind that the number of hours they are getting at night could account for all the sleep necessary for your small child. Now, my twins are about to turn 3(!) next month, so I’m guessing they need about 10-12 hours. That’s somewhere in between the two age groups. Now, looking at this, I know that my girls get exactly that amount of sleep at night. So based on this alone, they are probably ready to give up naps.
  2. They could be ready to give up naps if it’s hard to get your child to sleep, either at nap time or bedtime. If they’re taking more than an hour to settle down and sleep, that pushes back bedtime and makes it harder for them to sleep at night. If this is frequently becoming the case, it may be time to end it.
  3. They could be ready if they are, for the most part, happy on the days they skip a nap. Everybody has the witching hour just before dinner when everything goes crazy. But aside from that time, how is your child doing without a nap? If he or she is able to make it through the afternoon relatively meltdown-free, it may be time.

I would never advise you to go cold turkey on ending naps, however. Start to space them out gradually, or switch over to rest or quiet time, where your child reads or plays quietly in their room. This will still give you a break, and them a mental break, and if they are really tired, they might just fall asleep for a short nap. My oldest was almost six before I let him quit doing quiet time, mainly because his youngest brother was not quite three, and still napping. I wanted all three down at the same time for as long as I could!

If you still feel like YOU need your child to nap, try a few of these tricks.

  • Put a video on TV for your child to watch while you rest or do something else.  Preschoolers will gladly sit quietly while you can do what you want for a short time.
  • Put together a “busy bag” of things for your child to play with and activities to keep them busy for a little while. Change it up every now and then so it stays fresh and interesting.
  • If your child is having a rough day, you may want to consider getting them to take a nap. Lay down with them; you may both take a short nap!

But for me, today, I let the girls have quiet time. They each had two books and I let them know they had to stay in their room for an hour. I did have to put them back in their room a few times, but for the most part, it worked. Maybe just an early bedtime tonight?

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