Young babies need to sleep frequently during the day as well as at night. However the time will come when your child will move to monophasic sleep – one long stretch of sleep during the night without a nap during the day. It may feel daunting when your toddler stops napping and drops that final post-lunch sleep. After all, a child’s naptime is often a precious period of downtime for a parent. However, understanding when it should happen and the signs to look out for, can prevent other sleep problems from surfacing.
When will it happen?
Most toddlers will drop their last nap at around 2-3 years old. However, there are children who continue to nap until they are 4 or 5. In fact, in some cultures, particularly in hot climates, a lunchtime nap will continue, often followed by a slightly later bedtime. And of course, whilst not common, there are some toddlers who stop napping before they turn two years old. These toddlers will need an earlier bedtime to make up for the loss of their daytime nap.
Is my child ready to stop napping?
My best advice would be to watch your toddler or young child carefully. There are several ways in which they signal that they are ready to drop that final nap of the day.
- Resistance: your child may resist nap time by refusing to go to sleep.
- Reduction: the length of their post lunch nap reduces significantly – they may wake after just 30 or 40 minutes.
- Not tired: your child may not show any signs of being tired at their usual nap time.
- Bedtime battles: your child may struggle to fall asleep in the evening at their usual bedtime.
- Frequent nighttime awakening: your child may suddenly start waking up more frequently during the night.
- Early rising: your child may wake earlier in the morning.
How do I start the process of dropping the last nap?
If you think your child is ready to drop their final nap, you can simply give it a try for a few days and see what happens. You may need to bring bedtime forwards whilst they get used to the change. And remember that it is unlikely that your toddler will stop napping completely overnight. It is often a gradual change until their body adapts. So your child may choose to nap on some days and not on others.
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