When do toddlers drop their nap and how to deal with it

when do toddlers drop the nap

Do you think your toddler is ready to drop their daytime nap but you’re not sure on how to do it and whether it’s just a false alarm?

When it comes to dropping the last daytime nap, toddlers tend to go for it before their body is really ready to cope with it. 

They insist they won’t be sleeping at their usual time, however once the clock rolls on to 4pm they’re nodding off on the sofa, the floor and in their dinner plate. 

It’s tricky to know exactly what age a toddler is ready to drop their nap, because every child is different. 

However as a general rule of thumb, toddlers may be ready to ditch the nap from around age two. A four-year-old may still take a nap, and you can guarantee your five-year-old will be looking like they wished they had a nap when they come home from their first day of school!

I’ve written a longer post about the key signs that your child is ready to drop the nap, but to summarise these are: 

Fussing and refusing to settle at naptime. 

Being difficult to settle at nighttime after having a daytime nap.

Coping reasonable well if they have skipped the daytime nap. 

There’s no exact science but you will get a hint that something is up with them and you’ll just know that it will be time to say farewell to the daytime nap soon!

My eldest daughter dropped her nap at around two years. It was shortly after her sister was born so I was genuinely gutted. I wanted to get the napping at the same time so that I could have a break! My dreams of a daytime nap of my own were shattered. 

She started by refusing to nap at nursery. Then she refused to nap at my parents’ house when she stayed there. Finally she refused to nap at home. 

She would stand in her cot and sing loudly, or kick the sides of the cot. 

My second daughter is following much the same pattern. She refuses to have the nap 90 per cent of the time, and actually functions quite well without it most of the time. She turned two a few weeks ago. 

While losing daytime naps is sad, I personally would rather have a child who sleeps well all night, as that’s when I get to recuperate before another day of parenting madness. 

So if you think your toddler is ready to ditch their nap, here are some tips to help you, and them, survive the transition: 

Don’t force the issue

I understand that losing that time to yourself can be really frustrating. But you can’t force a child to nap in the daytime if they don’t want or need to.

It’s tough for you to adapt to this change, as well as your toddler. 

They may go back and forth for a while

Just because they won’t nap a lot of the time, doesn’t mean they don’t need a nap some days. 

If your child has had an exceptionally busy morning doing something very physical then they may well be grateful for the nap.

If you think they will sleep, put them down for a nap as you used to and see if they will go. 

Try to give them some quiet time

If your child isn’t napping, that doesn’t mean they have to be racing about at 100mph instead. I always give my two a quiet hour or two in the middle of the day where we read a book or watch TV. 

Danger naps

A child who is refusing their usual nap is a high risk for the danger nap! This is where your child naps any time after 4pm and can cause arguments at bedtime.

If you’re in the car or they’re out and about in the buggy and they nod off, there’s not really a lot you can do. 

This will happen from time to time, just roll with it and remember they will be able to cope with the longer days soon. 

I hope these tips are useful. Please do drop me an email or leave a comment if you have any questions.

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Toddler ready to drop their nap. How to cope with a toddler who is ditching the nap

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