Is Your Child Ready to Give Up Naps?

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The day you’ve been dreading has arrived: You put your toddler down for his afternoon nap and he screams, cries, sings, and does pretty much everything but sleep. You try again the next day, and the next—and still no sleep. So you wonder: is he ready to give up his nap for good?

Maybe not. Only about a quarter of kids stop napping by age 3. Another half give up their nap between the ages of 3 and 4. And by age 5, most kids have stopped napping.

But it’s common for kids to start resisting naps around age 2. Toddlers are so active and curious, they don’t want to miss anything by falling asleep. They may go several days, weeks, or even months without napping. If your toddler does this, put him in his crib or bed anyway and have him spend some quiet time reading, doing puzzles, or just relaxing. He may fall asleep on his own and he may not, but the rest time should recharge his batteries. And before long, he may start napping again.

So how will you know if your toddler is ready to give up his nap for good? Here are three questions to ask yourself:

1. How many hours does he sleep at night? According to the National Sleep Foundation, toddlers ages 1 to 3 need 12 to 14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. Preschoolers ages 3 to 5 need 11 to 13 hours. So if your 2-year-old goes to bed at 8 pm and wakes up at 7 am, he probably still needs to nap at least an hour during the day. If he continues to resist napping, try gradually moving his bedtime up so that’ll he’ll get his required hours in at night.

2. Does she wake up on her own—and in a good mood—in the morning? If you’re consistently having to wake your child up for day care, or if she wakes up cranky, she’s probably not getting enough rest. If you can’t move up her bedtime or she won’t fall asleep earlier at night, she’ll still need to take a nap in the afternoon.

3. Does he get cranky during the day? If your child stops napping and generally stays in a good mood until bedtime, he may be ready to give up his nap for good. But if he skips his nap and starts getting cranky by late afternoon or early evening, he likely still needs his afternoon snooze. If he’s refusing his nap, make sure to at least put him in his bed or crib for quiet time.

How did you know when your child was ready to give up naps? Leave us a comment and let us know!

About Jennifer Marino Walters

Jennifer Marino Walters is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in All You, Fit Pregnancy, Parenting, and several other magazines and websites. She’s the mom of adorable twin boys and the wife of a U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel. Though she and her family recently moved from the mountains of Colorado to the beaches of Southern California, Jennifer—a New York City native—is a city girl at heart. She writes about her adventures raising twins while navigating the military lifestyle on her blog, www.doubledutytwins.com

Comments

  1. Tzippy says:

    When my oldest was 18 months he gave up his nap for good. It was great for him because he was ready for it, but it was a disaster for me because I needed him to sleep! My baby now is 21 months, and I won’t let him give up his nap! Every once in a while he will skip his nap because of circumstances, but I won’t let it be for more than 2-3 days in a row….

  2. Kelly says:

    My son turned 3 just 3 months ago and I have just decided in the last few days to drop his nap. He will nap for 3 hours during the day no problem but then lay in bed for hours fighting sleep at night and bugging me. So I’ve been torn because I know he’s exhausted mid afternoon but I need a break at night!

  3. My daughter is 4 this week and she was still having a daily nap after play school every day. But in the last 3 or 4 months we found that at night time she was sometimes still awake until 10 pm, often just singing or playing in bed :-)
    We started cutting out the naps and and now she only has an occasional one or maybe on a Saturday when she’s really tired. It took her a while to get used to it, but the process of getting her to bed at night time is much easier now.

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