The time will come when those blissful mid-day snoozes for your toddler will end. But determining if your toddler is ready to quit napping due to normal development or toddler battles can be a daunting task. He may fight naptime, but before he quits for good, it’s important to make sure he’s developmentally ready. After all, a well-rested toddler -- who throws fewer tantrums -- makes your day a lot easier.
According to Dr. Judy Owens of the Pediatric Sleep Disorders Clinic, by 12 to 18 months a child will move from two daily naps to one -- typically dropping the morning nap -- but the age where a toddler doesn’t need a nap at all can vary. While some kids may quit napping around age 2, others may still nap up to age 5. In fact, about 70 percent of children stop napping around age 5, while 60 percent of 3-year-olds still nap.
Look for signals your toddler is ready to quit napping and isn’t just trying to pull a power play on you. If your toddler wakes from her current naps on her own and is happy, that’s a good start. Also, she should be able to fall asleep and stay asleep by herself at night. Without a nap, her behavior throughout the day should remain consistent and fairly good -- if you notice she’s having afternoon meltdowns, is overtired or having trouble concentrating, she may need to hold on to her nap just a little longer.
On average, your toddler should receive at least 12 to 14 hours of sleep at night. So if she’s dropping her nap, she should still get that amount of sleep. If she doesn’t get at least 12 hours, it’s likely she needs to nap during the day. Keep in mind that your toddler may be a busybody; therefore, she may be exhausted, but still intent on staying up and doing stuff throughout the day. While she may appear to have energy, that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s ready to give up her nap.
To prevent your toddler from giving up naps too early, you can help her hold on to naptime by establishing a routine. Make her nap in the same place and at the same time every day. Take note of the time of day she’s consistently tired -- such as after lunch -- and schedule her naps for that time. If your toddler is adamant about not taking a nap, schedule quiet time each day. This quiet time allows her to rest and relax -- without sleeping -- so that she can regain some energy. Ask her to spend quiet time in her room or a quiet location of the house, dim the lights and allow her to read books or play with a few toys.