The Insider's Guide: How to drop your child's nap without losing your sanity
The transition to no nap generally occurs between ages 3 and 5. A child can continue napping as long as it isn’t interfering with a solid 11 to 12 hours of nighttime sleep.
Before you drop the nap completely, you can try to limit the duration of the nap to 90 minutes. And make sure the nap does not go too late into the day. You can experiment with the timings but the nap ending between 2-3pm would be appropriate.
The number 1 sign that it’s time to drop the nap is that bedtime becomes a battle. Your child will stall, play and generally fight going to sleep or take a long time to fall asleep. If you’ve adjusted the nap as described above and the battles at bedtime have still been going on for more than 2 weeks then it’s probably time to drop the nap.
Here are 3 tips to make the transition as easy as possible for everyone:
1. Quiet Time
Once you decide to drop the nap, begin implementing “quiet time” in place of nap time. Take a few quiet activities into your child’s room and explain that he can play by himself until quiet time is over. This is the new rule and it needs to be enforced. Set a timer in his room and let him know that he cannot come out until the timer goes off. Start with 30 minutes and work up to an hour. There may be days where your child ends up falling asleep during quiet time. This is okay! It is a big transition.
2. Be patient as your child adjusts
It can take up to 6 weeks for your child to adjust to this transition. Your child may be grouchy until his body gets used to it.
3. Early bedtime
An early bedtime will be appropriate once he isn't taking a nap anymore. Your child will need a solid 12-hour night of sleep. So if your child has been going to be at 8pm and waking up a 7am, his new bedtime should be around 7pm. If you have to wake your child up every morning, then he's not getting enough sleep.
So even though you may miss having that nap time to get things done or relax, your child still needs the same total amount of daily sleep. So you will gain time with the earlier bedtime. You'll get an hour of so of quiet time, too. And now you have the freedom of the whole day without having to be home for nap time!
As always, feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about this transition!