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Is My Toddler Really Done Napping?

For many, dropping the nap is a dreaded time. The end of an era. The beginning of what? [insert crying face]

But if your toddler is truly ready to drop their nap, it will actually be a blessing.

Here's why...

If your toddler is ready to drop their nap they will be either (1) waking up very early in the morning, (2) refusing to go to bed until very late or it's a huge battle, (3) waking up multiple times a night or (4) fighting to take the nap at all. None of these things are fun.

But, dropping their nap can solve all of these problems! It can make bedtime easier and much earlier, solve early morning wakes and night wakes. So, why fight to keep the nap if it's causing all of these issues?

Many parents will prefer to keep the nap, even if it means a later bedtime. If your child is sleeping well and has the opportunity to sleep in the morning (ie. you're not waking them super early to get somewhere) it's okay to do this for a while.

Many parents will prefer to have an earlier bedtime and give up the midday break/nap. It's okay to choose this route too!

Aim for your child to be getting 10-14 hours of sleep in a 24hour period.

FAQ questions

When NOT to drop the nap:

If your child has just turned two and you're seeing some of the above mentioned signs, it's not likely time to drop their nap. Two years is a very common time for a sleep regression to occur. It can often leave parents thinking their child is done napping, but continue to offer the nap and it is very likely that they will begin taking it regularly again.

What to do instead of the nap:

Offer your child a quiet time in their room. This can be very helpful to give both them and you a quiet break in the daytime. If they're still in a crib you can put them in the crib with some books to look at or safe toys to play with. Keep an eye on them incase they fall asleep!

What to do when they don't nap for the first time:

Bring bedtime forward! Every time we lose sleep in the day, it has to be made up for in the night. If they usually napped for 1.5 hours in the afternoon then bring bedtime forward by 1.5 hours on days they don't nap. Try not to have bedtime earlier than 6:30pm if possible, as 12-13 hours is often the maximum they'll sleep overnight and you don't want to get into the habit of early morning wake ups.

How to drop the nap:

Don't put them down for their nap on day one! Plan for a quieter morning/day that day and an earlier bedtime. In the beginning they will be very tired by bedtime and you may find that every 3 days or so they will need an afternoon nap. It's more than okay to give them a nap and let them catch up on sleep that day. Remember, on nap days bedtime will be late again.

What if they fall asleep late in the afternoon:

If they fall asleep in the car or on the couch at 4pm just let them sleep for 15-20 minutes then gently wake them up. Offer some snuggles or a snack to help them adjust to being awake again and aim for a bedtime between their 'no nap' bedtime and 'full nap' bedtime.


Nap days

Wake 7am

Nap 12:30-2:00pm

Bedtime 8:30pm

No nap days

Wake 7am

Bedtime 6:30-7:00pm

Late nap days

Wake 7am

Nap 4:00-4:20pm

Bedtime7:30- 8:00pm

Don't sweat it, dropping the nap isn't really all that bad. I'm a paediatric sleep consultant and stay at home mom to an almost 3 year old and we JUST went through this. I promise, it's not that bad.

-Tara Gordon


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