Dropping Daytime Nap
NO MORE NAP!?!!? I know, it’s a sad day for a lot of parents – I was there too!
Here are some indicators that your child really just does NOT need that afternoon nap any longer.
They rarely fall asleep at naptime
- It takes them a long time to fall asleep at nap time
- 3-4 days a week, they are NOT falling asleep
- If they do nap, bedtime is difficult and much later than it used to be
- At bedtime, there is A LOT more game playing because your child is not tired
I can remember with my own children, they would be happily singing and having a little party in their crib but this would go on for an hour or more every night.
Then they would wake up tired the next morning, need their afternoon sleep, party until 9:00 PM and this whole cycle just continued. For me it made better sense to pull the daytime nap and have my children go to bed at 7:00 PM.
For me that was the way I preferred it. I liked having my evening free. However, I have had clients who tell me, “You know what? I don’t mind if she goes to bed a little later in the evening. I really enjoy that little break in the day.”
It’s perfectly fine to keep the afternoon nap. I’ve had clients who have 3 or 4 year olds are still happily taking an afternoon nap. You just need to know that bedtime’s going to be a little later.
By later I mean 8:00 PM or 8:30 PM – try not to go have your child go to sleep any later than that.
If you decide that it’s time to end that daytime sleep, I prefer that you do things 100% percent. It’s easier on the body’s biological clock if we keep things consistent rather than nap one day and not another. Inconsistency with naptime will affect bedtime too!
Once you’ve made the decision, just go for it. The nap is gone. What I suggest you do instead is something I call Quiet Time. This will save your sanity during the day and your child will get some important independent playtime. This could include looking at books, playing cars or building Lego – whatever is enjoyable for your child and QUIET. Setting a timer can be helpful so your child knows when quiet time is over (30 minutes for quiet time is reasonable for a toddler).
You should expect that for four weeks you might have some rough days where your child may be cranky, because his or her body has not adjusted fully to dropping the daytime sleep– this is normal so try to push through it. Once your child’s body has adjusted to the new schedule, he or she is going to have lots of stamina to make it through the day!