When will your toddler stop napping? The answer isn’t down to age – it depends on when your little one is developmentally ready. Here’s how to tell when your child is ready to stop napping, plus tips to help the transition away from naps go smoothly.
Your baby or toddler needs lots of sleep for healthy growth, development, and learning. They’ll get some of it at night, but get the rest at nap times.
As your little one gets older, though, they’ll need less and less sleep. Within their first year, baby will go from 5-6 naps to only 2. Then, between 1 and 2 years of age, your little one will give up their morning nap, and only nap once during the day (in the afternoon).
But when will your toddler give up that last nap? The answer isn’t down to age – it depends on when your little one is developmentally ready. Here’s how to tell when your child is ready to stop napping. Plus, we’ve got tips to help the transition away from naps go smoothly for you both.
When do kids usually stop napping?
Most kids give up their last nap (afternoon nap) some time between age 3 and age 4, and almost all are ready to stop napping around age 5. But some toddlers are ready to stop napping as early as age 2, especially if they’ve got older siblings who aren’t napping. And a few kids will hold out on the nap until they’re 6.
Don’t use your kid’s age as the marker for when they need to stop napping, though. Several factors influence when your child will give up the nap – including developmental maturity, whether they attend preschool, and how they sleep at night.
Learn more about when to transition away from naps in this video from Sleep Sense:
Signs your child is ready to stop napping
Look for the developmental signs we’ve listed below to know when your little one is ready to say goodbye to the nap.
Has trouble falling asleep at naptime.
If they aren’t tired at naptime, and skipping that nap doesn’t make them tired or cranky well before bed, you can probably cut out naptime.
A toddler who has trouble falling asleep at naptime, and who doesn’t get to napping until an hour or so after you tried to start the nap, will nap in a way that could negatively affect nighttime sleep (see the next sign below).
Has trouble going to sleep at night
This may be a sign that they got too much sleep during the day (that the nap is negatively affecting nighttime sleep). If you run into this, shorten your little one’s nap before they give it up altogether. Don’t make bedtime later! Instead, start bedtime when your little one starts to get tired at night.
Waking up earlier than their designated wake-up time
If your child wakes up earlier than they are supposed to, that probably means they got enough rest before their morning wake-up time (due to sleep from a nap that’s longer than it needs to be). If this happens, shorten naps first, then drop the nap completely.
Fusses or gets cranky when you try to start naptime
Some kids who don’t need naps anymore get irritable when you tell them they have to stop their play and go to sleep. It makes sense – if they don’t need the sleep at that time, they won’t want to nap. If they can skip the nap and stay happy throughout the day, they’re probably growing out of naps.
Dropping a few naps, but keeping others
If your little one naps at daycare or preschool, for example, but doesn’t need naps on the weekends, they might be ready to drop all of their naps in the near future.
This also applies if they're always at home – you might notice that your little one has no trouble starting their nap on some days, but struggles to nap (or skips the nap) on others.
Just make sure that they don’t get sleepy during the day, or cranky, on the days that they go without naps.
Just not napping – and not getting tired
If your child reads or plays throughout their scheduled naptime – and doesn’t sleep at all – they probably don’t need that naptime. Again, make sure they don’t get tired or grouchy during the days they don’t nap.
Tips for good sleep when dropping naptime
Follow these tips to help your little one get the sleep they need – and to help the transition away from naps go smoothly.
Phase out naps gradually.
Most kids gradually drop nap days before they’re ready to say goodbye to naps completely. If they haven’t started to do this on their own, but show other signs of readiness to give up naps, skip naps on days they don’t seem tired at naptime. But continue to start nap times on days they still seem tired.
Start bedtime earlier.
Your little one still needs about 10-13 hours of sleep per day. Dropping the nap means they must get all the sleep they need at night. So, move their bedtime an hour earlier than their previous “lights out.” That means starting the usual bedtime routine earlier as well, to signal that it’s time for sleep and to help your child relax. Dinner will need to happen earlier than usual, too.
You may notice that your little one isn’t tired enough to nap at their normal time but then gets tired in the late afternoon. If this happens, don’t let them nap – you want them tired at bedtime. Take them outside or play with them to keep them stimulated until dinner. Then, start dinner, the bedtime routine, and bedtime at the new earlier times.
Replace the nap with quiet time.
If your little one shows signs that they’re ready to give up naps (they aren’t tired at naptime), turn the usual naptime into an hour of quiet time. This means coloring, looking at pictures in a book, doing a puzzle, cuddling stuffed animals, building with Duplo, or playing with something else quiet. Don’t give them noisy toys, electronic devices, or anything overly stimulating. This quiet time helps slowly transition away from the naptime hour, instead of cutting off the quiet hour(s) completely. Plus, it continues to give you a break – you won’t have to sacrifice all the free time you had when your little one was still napping!
If your child is done with naps but your child’s preschool, daycare, or kindergarten has scheduled naps, ask if your child can have a quiet time during that period instead of naptime.
Remember that giving up naps doesn’t have to be final.
If your little one seems ready to give up naps, but then you cut the nap and they’re tired or irritable during the day, you can always add naps back in. Giving up naps doesn’t always happen outright. Some kids may stop napping but then need to start again.
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