“It’s time to drop the nap”…….
The words that every toddler parent dreads to hear.
Going from 1 to 0 nap is a big deal and a huge milestone in your child’s life. They go from having awake time of about 5-6 hours before their midday nap to dropping the nap and being awake for the entire day (about 11-12 hours)! That is a really big difference!
With that being said, you could experience:
-More tantrums than normal
-Mid-late afternoon meltdowns
-The need for a nap every few days due to built up overtiredness
It can take some kids a few months before the one nap feels “normal” for them, so approach these situations with as much patience as you can.
Let’s talk about what to look for when your child is ready to drop the nap:
Age- Typically, this happens around 3 years old. Some kids can drop it closer to 2.5 years and some may need a nap until they’re 4, even 5 years old. Because this can vary so much, make sure that you are looking at all of the factors and not deciding to drop the nap just based on their age. If your child is younger than 3 and exhibiting other signs of being ready, start by capping their nap at 45 minutes to one hour before dropping completely.
Time it takes to fall asleep- This pertains to nap and bedtime. You may notice it’s taking a very long time to fall asleep for nap. Or they may take the nap just fine, but bedtime is becoming a huge struggle where they just do not seem tired and are not able to fall asleep.
Rejecting the nap completely- A lot of children will just flop and roll around in their bed or just lay in there and play for the entire duration of the nap; not falling asleep at all.
Early morning wakings- If your child is taking the nap and then waking up very early ready to go, this is another indication that they don’t need the nap anymore.
Middle of the night wake ups- This can sometimes be long wakings in the middle of the night.
*When assessing these signs, be sure that your child is showing them about 4-5 days out of the week for more than two weeks. If that’s the case, it’s time to make a change. If your child is 3+ years old and still sleeping well at night with the nap in place, then there is no need to change anything until you have struggles with sleep at night.
How to drop the nap
Now that you’ve decided your child is in fact ready to drop the nap completely, I’m sure you’re wondering how in the world to do this!
If your little one is younger than 3 years old, start by capping their nap. If you get to a 30–45-minute nap and they’re still having trouble with bedtime, early morning wakings or middle of the night wake ups, then it’s safe to assume the nap is the issue.
The first step is to move bedtime earlier. This should be about an hour earlier than normal bedtime. Pay attention to how your child handles the day. If they’re really struggling, you may need to do as early as 6pm.
The second step is to implement Quiet Time. This will help everyone take a little break and recharge in place of the nap.
-Create a few bins or baskets with Quiet Time only toys and activities. This will create some excitement since they will get to place with different toys that they don’t see throughout the rest of the day.
-Important: this is not TV or tablet time. Use this time to help them practice independent play, which is so beneficial for their development. After their Quiet time, you can give some screen time.
-Work up to 20-30 minutes of Quiet Time. You can start with 5 minutes and gradually increase it every few days.
-Use a timer (out of their reach so they can’t change the time) and tell them they can put their toys away and come out once the timer goes off.
-Be consistent! Offer this at the same time where their nap used to be at least 5 days per week.
The third step of this transition is to make sure that your child is sleeping well at night so that they don’t become chronically overtired. This will also be important for your sanity! Without the nap, this leaves you with just the short break that Quiet Time offers. You’re going to need those hours after bedtime to recharge. If your child is taking a very long time to fall asleep at bedtime and/or waking throughout the night, it’s not too late to teach them to sleep well! Check out our toddler packages to help your little one! They will need restorative sleep at night more than ever without that nap.
Stay strong! This process can be a bit of a rollercoaster ride, but you can do it! Keep consistent with offering that Quiet Time and keep a strong understanding of how this can impact your little one’s body. They are going to be extra tired for a bit. It’s going to be frustrating some days because of how cranky they may be. You may need to do a nap on some days. Don’t be afraid of these things happening. It’s normal and part of this process! If you need extra help, let us know by clicking here and scheduling your free evaluation call!