Calling all parents of little adventurers (read: rascals!) Are you keen to unlock the secrets of successful toddler napping? We know how challenging it can be to wrangle your energetic tot into a peaceful slumber, so we’ve dived into our vault to help you figure out a rather popular parenting question: to nap or not to nap? Let’s go!
To nap or not to nap?
Are you witnessing the telltale signs that your little dynamo is bidding farewell to naps once and for all? Buckle up, because this chaotic transition typically unfolds between the ages of 2.5 and 3.5 years old! Brace yourself, as your independent bundle of joy unleashes their unique personality, exuding an electrifying sense of autonomy. With their own sleep requirements in the mix, this nap drop can be quite a tricky one!
Losing 1 to 2 hours of precious sleep (peace and quiet for Mum and Dad, let’s be honest) is no small feat, dropping that nap too soon, and you might find yourself wishing you hadn’t! Don’t forget about the well-known (well in our circles is it) 24-month regression, which is usually where the nap striking pops up and requires us to dig deep and remain consistent until it passes.
Dropping the nap prematurely or holding onto it for too long can trigger major sleep disruptions. That’s why it’s absolutely crucial to prioritise your little one’s individual needs rather than just their age.
Signs your child is ready to transition
- When they do take a nap they’re taking a looooong time to settle at bedtime or staying awake for a long period of time before falling asleep for the nap
- They have started night waking when they hadn’t previously… you might even see a 1 – 2 hour party overnight (SEND HELP)
- They’re waking up early in the morning and aren’t even close to interested re-settling to sleep
- Refusing to nap for over a 1 – 2 weeks when the nap is being offered consistently
Now, if you’re not noticing any of these things, then as you were, scroll on by 😎
Now, let’s get to the good stuff! Tips to get your toddler napping!
- Spend the morning out and about, soaking up the sun, moving the body and having fun! A busy toddler will very soon be a tired toddler ready for a nap!
- Focus on nailing your wind-down routine, sometimes it needs to be longer than you think – you can learn more about this here, bear in mind this is for babies but the same idea’s apply! Get creative 😉
- Make sure your timing is working with you, not against you! Generally the one nap routine falls between 12.30pm – 2.30pm (tweak as you need). Let them sleep any earlier and you’ve got an early waker on your hands. Let them sleep any later and you’ve got mega bedtime resistance. Let them sleep any longer than 2 hours and well, let us know how you go!
- White noise can still work a trick for this age, heck even my 3 year old still has white noise! It helps to drown out the noise of the household and the neighbourhood meaning they’re less invested in what’s going on ‘out there’.
- Keep the room dark, oh yes this one again! Seriously, who even likes to sleep in broad daylight?! The less stimulating the better.
- Make sure there are no toys within reach, up high or in a cupboard! Those busy little hands will not support that sleepy-time.
- Set boundaries, ooooh eeeee! Definitely a Parenting 101 thang that you need to get up with! It’s okay if you toddler is unimpressed with this nap time deal, they don’t have to like it and it’s not your job to keep them happy. It’s your job to keep them rested to avoid dinner-time armageddon. There are MANY ways to do settle them that is respectful and supportive.
Phew, that’s a lot… but what if it really is time to drop it?
If your little one’s nap time stretches beyond an hour, it’s worth considering cutting it to one hour initially. However, it’s important not to further reduce their naptime duration. Children enter deep sleep early in the nap, so waking them prematurely may lead to extra crankiness – not ideal! If capping the nap at one hour resolves any current sleep disruptions then keep it around a while longer (Yass!) Remember to give it at least five days to observe any changes. Patience and consistency are key on this journey to better sleep!
When you do finally drop it altogether, get ready for a few challenging and cranky days, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. As the weeks progress, you can expect to see improvements in your child’s sleep patterns. To make things easier on yourself, have your little one’s favorite meal ready to go for dinner, avoiding tired battles at the table.
Even without a nap, ensure there is always some quiet time during the day. This can become their new relaxation period within their routine. Additionally, being prepared in the evenings and adjusting bedtime earlier for a short period can be beneficial. Once they have adjusted to the change, you can gradually shift back to a later bedtime.
Remember, patience and consistency are key during this transition. It may be tough at first, but with time and preparation, you’ll pave the way for smoother days and peaceful nights. Hang in there, and brighter days of restful sleep await!
If you’re looking for comprehensive guidance and expert tips on toddler sleep, look no further! Grab a copy of our exclusive Toddler Sleep Guide for all the information you need to conquer naptime battles and ensure restful nights for your little one. Packed with practical strategies and tailored advice, this guide will be your go-to resource on the journey to peaceful sleep!
I’m Courtney, child-wrangler, sometimes parent-wrangler, sleep & behavioural specialist, and instigator of The Parenting Edit. And helping stressed and exhausted parents get their parenting swagger back? I live for it.
With a family-first approach, I take what you give me and work with it to get your family back to sleep. You’re guaranteed to feel supported and heard during our time together.
Let me know what you’re struggling with and let’s book you in!