Look, believe me, I know that we all want our kids to continue taking naps in the afternoon until they go off to kindergarten when they’re five.
As a work-from-home mom (like so many of us are these days), it’s extra awesome for both my sanity and my productivity when my three-year-old and my seventeen-month-old both sleep for a couple of hours after lunch.
That said, there are some signs (that my three-year-old is exhibiting – no!) that mean it might be better for everyone in the long run if your toddler eased off required naps.
Here are five of them – fingers crossed that none of them hit home for you!
5. They struggle with falling asleep at nap time.
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If your kiddo really struggles to fall asleep at nap time, when they’d previously crashed right out, you might be looking at them dropping their nap. You know your kid, of course, and if you sense they’re tired but just don’t like naps, you know best.
Dr. Florencia Segura says that it might not be an all or nothing thing at first, either.
“It is usually not an overnight process and happens over a period of several weeks. …There might be some days where your child doesn’t want a nap, and others when they seem like they do.”
This is definitely the case in our house right now – and the nap days are glorious!
4. They resist going down at their normal bedtime.
Even if your child is still napping like a champ, you might notice that a good nap is causing trouble at bedtime. They might have a hard time being tired after sleeping in the afternoon, says Innessa Doskoy, a pediatric sleep medicine doctor.
“Sleep is controlled by two overarching processes: our circadian rhythm (our internal 24-hour clock) and our sleep pressure drive. This latter drive for sleep starts out low in the morning and builds throughout the day so that by the time we get to the evening, our sleep pressure is so high, we can fall asleep easily and pay it off throughout the night.
As we build sleep pressure, any amount that we pay off in the daytime (with a nap, for example) will prolong how much additional time we need to get back to that ‘pressure’ where we are able to fall asleep easily.”
3. They are irritable.
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You know that time when you’re transitioning to no nap?! Ha! Lots of falling asleep at random times and in random places! Ha, we were in the middle of watching a loud show too! #nomorenaps #rulebreaker #lifeinyellowknife #cantmakeit #homeschoolinglife #livingupnorth #bigsisterlittlebrother #familyofffour #youtubemom #homeschool #homeschoolpreschool #homeschoolmama #homeschoolfamily #homeschoolvlogger #ditl #kidslife
If your kid is getting annoyed when you stop them from playing and force them into bed, it could be because they legitimately don’t need a nap.
“The child who stays happy and composed without the nap, or certainly who consistently stays awake for the entire nap opportunity, may be a candidate for trying to skip it.”
2. They’ve hit their fifth birthday.
There’s no hard age when kids stop napping, though it’s usually between the ages of 3 and 5.
Donskoy says, though, that 5 is usually the top of the scale.
“The general guidelines or pediatric sleep put forth by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommend total sleep times grouped by age. Up until a child is 5 years old, the total sleep time that he/she is recommended includes a daytime nap. After this age, the total sleep time is assumed to be exclusively at night.”
1. They don’t seem tired at naptime.
You know your child pretty well by the time they’re three years old, so you should be able to tell at naptime whether they seem tired at all.
“The toddler who is potentially done napping will be at his or her baseline around the time the nap would usually approach. They will not be ‘revving up’ nor having a meltdown. They will be playing, eating, learning, etc. and no different than they are any other part of the day,” says Donskoy.
My three-year-old refuses naps maybe half of the time, and I can see no naps are our future.
That said, remember that it’s fine to expect your non-napping toddler to play quietly in their room during nap time. Keep in mind, as with everything, you’ll have some transition time before they understand what you’re asking (and expecting), so be patient!