Sleep is extremely important for a child’s growth and development. Infants begin their lives sleeping between 14-19 hours a day. However, as babies grow older, they require less hours of sleep.
By the time babies are a year old, their need for naps usually decreases from several times a day to about two naps a day. As they grow into toddlers, they’ll grow to only require one nap a day. Eventually, children won’t need naps if they are able to sleep an adequate amount of hours every night.
Wondering when a child can stop napping is a common question amongst parents. Keep reading this guide to learn more about when your child is ready to stop taking daytime naps.
Does My 3 Year Old Need A Nap?
There’s no specific age for when children stop needing naps. Therefore, it’s challenging to provide a definitive answer about the age at which a child doesn’t need any more naps. The reason for this challenge is that every child is different and grows and develops at varying paces.
Children typically stop napping between ages three to five. However, some children stop napping at two years old, while others keep napping after they reach five years of age.
More than trying to transition a child out of napping by a certain age, it’s better for their growth and health to look for specific signs that they’re ready to stop napping.
3 Signs Your Child Still Needs a Daytime Nap
In general, toddlers need between 11-14 hours of sleep a day. Preschool children should get between 10-13 hours of sleep, and older children should have between 9-11 hours of sleep.
Naps definitely help your children get all the sleep they need, so you don’t want to take them away if they still need them. If you’re not sure if your child still needs naps, look for these signs.
Your Child Can Stick with their Daytime Nap Schedule
Just because your child isn’t fussy, it doesn’t mean that they don’t need naps. You don’t need for them to start feeling cranky to start nap time.
If your child is agreeable and willing to take a daily nap, then it’s a good sign that they still need it. They should be able to fall asleep pretty quickly and easily.
Your Child is Sleepy if They Skip a Nap
If your child skips a nap, they may be able to stay awake for the rest of the day until bedtime. However, this doesn’t always mean that they no longer need naps.
The next time your child skips a nap, make sure to keep an eye out for signs of sleepiness and tiredness. Check to see if they’re consistently yawning throughout the rest of the day or rubbing their eyes. If they don’t get enough sleep, they may also have less energy and move lethargically.
Your Child Displays Different Behaviors if They Don’t Nap
A lack of sleep can greatly affect your child’s moods and behaviors. Children will have different responses to any sleep deprivation. Some children will become hyperactive, while others will be cranky and even have tantrums.
Keep an eye out for any changes in behavior the next time your child has a reduced nap time or skips a nap. If they react negatively throughout the day, they most likely still need naps.
4 Signs Your Child is Ready to Stop Napping
If you see that your child doesn’t really display any need for a nap, start looking for these signs in their sleep habits.
Your Child Doesn’t Fall Asleep Easily During Nap Time
A lot of children who don’t need daytime naps will not fall asleep during this time. However, make sure that your child isn’t acting fussy and fighting to stay awake.
If children are fussy during naptime, there’s a good chance that it’s because they’re tired. Instead of removing naps, you may have to adjust their naps to occur earlier in the day.
If your child is calm and playing by themselves during nap time, this can signify that they don’t need a nap. Check to see if the amount of time it takes for them to fall asleep changes or if they’re just staying awake during nap time.
Your Child Skips Naps, and It Doesn’t Affect Their Mood
If your child isn’t sleeping through nap time, check on their mood for the rest of the day. Do they appear sleepy? Are they crankier than usual?
If your child consistently feels fine even after they skip naps, then this could mean that they’re ready to stop having daytime naps.
It’s a Challenge for Your Child to Sleep at Night
If a child gets too much sleep during the day, they’ll have more trouble falling asleep at night. If you notice that your child consistently has difficulty falling asleep at night, try to move their naps earlier in the day so that there’s more space between nap time and bedtime.
If your child still has trouble sleeping, consider shortening nap times, and if this doesn’t work, you can try removing naps from their daily schedule.
Your Child Wakes Up Early in the Morning
Many children who don’t need naps but keep napping can start to wake up earlier in the morning. The naps may make them feel well-rested, so they don’t need as much as sleep at night.
Make sure that your child isn’t acting fussy or sleepy during the day before you try stopping naps. Sometimes, they wake up early because their naps are scheduled too late in the day.
How to Transition Your Child Away from Napping
If you notice that your child displays multiple signs that they don’t need naps, you can start slowly transitioning them to take naps out of their routine.
It’s not a good idea to abruptly remove nap time from a child’s schedule. Young children thrive on routines, so sudden changes can lead to unwanted behavioral reactions. It takes several steps for children to transition out of napping.
Step 1: Reduce the Length of Nap Time
Start by shaving off a couple of minutes from nap time. Wake up your child a little earlier than they’re used to, but not so early that they notice a significant change. Make rearrangements depending on how your child responds to this change.
Some children can quickly adjust to reduced nap times, while others may take a longer time. You can start by reducing nap time minutes one day a week. Then, as your child gets used to the new time, you can implement this reduction to another day until all the days of the week have shortened nap times.
Step 2: Start Adjusting Activities in Your Child’s Routine
As you’re reducing nap time minutes, be mindful of how you schedule and time the rest of your child’s activities throughout the day.
For example, your child may need to sleep earlier if they have shortened naps, so gradually start shifting bedtime to an earlier time.
Also, try to avoid doing activities in the afternoon that promote drowsiness. Do your best not to have long car rides where your child can start dozing off. It’s also helpful if you don’t have heavy lunches during this transitional period that may make your child feel sleepy.
Step 3: Remove Nap Time One Day at a Time
After your child has adjusted well to having reduced nap times all days of the week, you can start to remove nap time once a week. When you do this, make sure to pick the same day of the week so that it causes minimal disruption to your child’s routine.
Wait for your child to adjust to a napless day completely. They should consistently show signs that they don’t need a nap for several weeks in a row.
Once they are used to not napping on a certain day, you can remove nap time from another day. Then, wait for them to adjust to this day as well before removing another day. Keep working in these gradual increments until you can completely remove daytime naps from your child’s routine.
Step 4: Make Room for Plenty of Rest Periods Throughout the Day
As your child starts adopting napless days, make sure to incorporate a lot of breaks in between activities. You don’t want to have extended periods of inactivity because this can cause sleepiness. However, short pauses throughout the day could keep your child from feeling less overwhelmed and tired.
Frequently Asked Questions
You’re not alone if you’re feeling concerned about your child’s nap and sleep schedule. We’re here to help and answer some frequently asked napping questions from parents with young children.
How Much Sleep Do Toddlers Need for Naps?
In general, toddlers need between 1-3 hours of nap time. If nap times are too short, they can be sleepy or fussy throughout the rest of the day. On the other hand, nap times that are too long will affect your child’s ability to go to bed and stay in bed throughout the night.
Toddlers can take multiple naps throughout the day, but make sure that they’re not close to bedtime. The key to finding the right amount of sleep is to monitor your child’s behavior throughout the day. Look for any signs of sleepiness or lethargy. If they’re consistently showing signs of sleepiness, increase their nap time.
What Do You Do When Your 2 Year Old Won’t Nap?
If it’s clear that your toddler needs naps but is refusing them, you can try a couple of things to encourage them to nap.
First, try scheduling more activities earlier in the day that expend more energy. Take them to the park or enroll them in toddler tumbling classes.
Make sure that they’re eating a healthy and complete meal so that they’re not staying awake due to any hunger.
When it comes to nap time, remove all distractions and create a quiet and peaceful space. If your toddler refuses to nap, you can try to reframe nap time as a rest time where they can pause and take a break before moving on to the next activity.
What Causes Sleep Regression in Toddlers?
Sleep regression is a set of common symptoms that toddlers display when it’s time for them to sleep. They can refuse to go to bed, wake up in the middle of the night, or have trouble falling asleep during nap time.
There are several causes for sleep regression. First, toddlers start to become more independent at this age and may want to control their own schedules. They may also have trouble sleeping because their physical bodies are going through changes in growth and development. Changes and stress can also affect a toddler’s ability to sleep.
When it comes to addressing sleep regression, try to locate the cause. For example, if you’ve moved homes or had another child, your toddler may react to these changes through sleep regression. Sometimes, your toddler may be afraid to fall asleep on their own.
If you can locate the cause of sleep regression, you’ll have a better chance of success at properly addressing it. If your child is afraid of sleeping alone, validate their fears and help them to feel safe. If they’re trying to control their schedule, try giving them options for a pre-bedtime activity so that they can feel more independent.
Sleep regression is frustrating for both parents and toddlers, but it’s a common part of child development. Along with being patient with your child, remember to be patient with yourself.
Transitions in childhood development are challenging phases. Toddlers can’t quite explain the changes they’re experiencing, but they do feel its effects and will express them. Sometimes, these expressions can be confusing or frustrating for parents.
When it comes to naptimes, just keep looking for signs that your child may be ready to stop napping. If you’re concerned about them oversleeping, you can always consult with their doctor.
It’s normal to experience some stress with nap time transitions, but just remember that there isn’t a rush to get your child to stop napping. Each child develops differently, so there’s no need to compare them to each other.