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!