As parents, we can fully understand why you would want to delay dropping your toddler’s nap! Mine has just turned 3 and I am already wondering if I’ll have any time to myself or time to complete my never ending ‘to-do list’.
It is a tricky transition and can take up to 6 weeks but dropping the nap doesn’t have to be something you dread. In fact, there are a number of positives, for example, the day time can become more flexible in terms of organising activities and visiting family/friends without having to worry about nap times.
It is vital to wait until your little one is ready for the transition before attempting to drop the nap. The transition to no nap generally occurs between ages 2 ½ and 3. There is no need to drop the nap if your little one’s night-time sleep isn’t affected and they are still sleeping a solid 11-12 hours at night.
If you are unsure about dropping the nap completely, you can start off by ‘capping’ the duration of the nap to around 60 – 90 minutes and then reducing it to about 45minutes. In addition, make sure the nap does not go too late into the day. You can start off by experimenting with timings but waking them up between 2-3pm would be appropriate so bedtime isn’t too late. If you are already doing this and it is interfering with bedtime, it may be time to make the leap!
Signs that your little one may be ready to drop their nap:
- They are fighting their nap
- They are stalling, playing and generally fighting going to sleep at bedtime, during the night or early in the morning (before 6am).
- If you have had 1-2 weeks of the above behaviour, then your little one is probably ready to drop their nap
How to drop the nap when the time is right:
- Once you decide to drop the nap, it is a good idea to begin implementing “quiet time” in place of nap.
- Take a few quiet activities into your child’s room and explain they can play by themselves until quiet time is over.
- Set this up as a new rule which needs to be enforced
- You could set a timer in their room to let them know when they can come out and that they need to wait for the timer to go off before leaving (start this at 10-15mins and gradually increase to an hour.)
- You may need to stay with them at first until they get used to this new idea.
- There may be days where you child ends up falling asleep during quiet time, this is okay – it’s a big transition losing this nap!
- Snacks with some natural sugars are great to help give your little one a boost as it gets later in the afternoon.
- Expect your child to be a little grouchy during this transition
- You may need to tweak your schedule to allow for a solid 12-hour night, so this may mean an earlier bedtime (but no earlier than 6pm)
Remember it can take up to 6 weeks for this transition to fully happen and there may be occasions where your little one needs a short nap every now and again to ward off over-tiredness.
If your child is experiencing difficulties with dropping their nap, adjusting to the transition or any other sleep difficulties, please do not hesitate to get in touch.