Ah, solitude. After spending a gleeful morning with your little one, you still look forward to that cherished hour or two of the day that is rightfully yours: Naptime. But be warned, mum and dad. If you’ve been wondering, “At what age does toddler stop napping?”, brace yourself. It just might be sooner than you think.
When Do Toddlers Stop Napping?
Generally speaking, toddlers begin resisting naps at around 2 years old. Yep, you heard that right. But hold on your horses, mums and dads. That doesn’t necessarily mean that your little one is ready to drop his or her naps completely, just yet.
In most cases, many tots will still need daytime sleep, even if you find your two year old fighting naps. This is especially true if your toddler wakes up frequently during the night or is rising painfully early in the morning.
Moreover, young toddlers need at least 12-14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. So if he or she is getting any less than that, you’ll need to ensure that you’re incorporating some daytime shut-eye for your little one.
When Do Babies Stop Napping?
Babies should never stop napping, although you will see their sleep schedule flex and flow, over time.
As a newborn, your baby is likely going to need to sleep every hour to an hour and a half. Unfortunately, this cycle may continue with your baby waking up from a “nap” even when you are trying to sleep at night. Go figure.
As he or she matures, however, the amount of time that your newborn is able to stay awake will lengthen. Naps won’t be as frequent. This progression usually happens around 3-4 months of age. It is also usually met with a sleep regression that will affect both daytime and nighttime sleep.
Nevertheless, most babies at this age will need three naps, with some managing two, per day.
By 9 months, your baby is likely to drop his or her third nap and begin to stay up for even longer periods of time. To compensate, many parents find success in giving their baby an earlier bedtime to ensure that he or she is still managing to get at least 12-14 hours of overall sleep.
When Do Children Stop Napping?
If you are wondering at what age do kids stop napping in general, it is hard to say. Many do it in their own time, but it will greatly depend on the needs and lifestyle of the child.
Having said that, statistics show that by the age of 4, nearly half of all children are still clinging to their daily nap, while a whopping 70% will forsake napping altogether by the age of five.
So, does your toddler still need a nap? It’s likely. How should you go about it? That, friends, is a great question.
When a Toddler Refuses to Nap
A Few Common Reasons
The reasons you may find your toddler refusing to sleep aren’t hard to uncover.
For example, a toddler might refuse to nap if he or she is sleeping too much at night. It can also happen if he or she is going through a major life transition.
Moreover, if the atmosphere isn’t conducive and there is an audible television in the next room, loud phone conversations going on in another room and older siblings running about the house, your little one may simply be finding it hard to relax.
Another reason that your toddler could be finding it difficult to nap might be due to the fact that he or she is learning how to assert their independence. At this age, your child is learning that he or she is a separate entity from you. As such, they realise that they don’t necessarily have to do as they’re told, and this can be an exciting realisation for them.
Of course, this kind of behaviour can be expected, and is definitely developmentally appropriate, however, that doesn’t mean you should cave. Sleep is a non-negotiable for young tots, so, as obstinate as they may be, you’ll need to figure out a way to get them to settle in for nap time.
What You Can Do
What to do when your 2 year old is refusing to sleep can be tricky. As previously mentioned, you’ll want to first and foremost rid his or her sleeping environment of any noise and distractions.
Remember that your child is older and wiser than they were as babies. As such, they are often acutely aware of what is going on in the next room…without them. Occupy other siblings with quiet activities. Be sure to keep quiet yourself if you want your little one to be able to get a good rest.
Along with removing distractions comes the idea of removing any toys from their reach, or even, removing them from their room, completely. Now, we realise that not every parent will be up for this, and if you aren’t, that’s okay. But some have parents gone as far as to only keep their child’s toys in the living room, playroom or other places in an effort to eliminate distractions for their little ones. If that sounds appealing to you, it’s certainly worth a try!
What Nap time Might Look Like for a 2 year old
If, no matter what you do, you are still finding that your two year old is fighting naps, then you may begin to wonder, “Is it OK for a 2 year old not to nap?” The answer to this question is almost always no.
Generally speaking, most children under the age of three still desperately need a nap, so it’s important to weave in naptime, whenever possible.
Dropping a nap too soon will lead to over-tiredness. This in turn can result in early risings and frequent night wakings. Yikes!
Having said that, when your wee little one does begin to drop one of his or her two naps, it’ll likely be the first one. Remember, toddlers need 12-14 hours of sleep to function. With the deletion of a morning nap, you can push the remaining nap and bedtime back by a half an hour to help your little one transition and still get the rest they need.
Once the final transition to one nap has taken place, you can begin using more creative strategies. For instance, you can try getting your 2 year old tuckered out by taking them out to fun and active events right before sleepy time. Swimming, sledding, the playground and even gardening, are all great ways to get your child up and moving. Grab this gardening first aid kit, and let them have at it! They’ll love it, and you’ll likely be loving the sound sleep that follows, too.
Nap Time for 3 Year Old
Now that your toddler is a little older, you may be able to relax a bit in regards to your child getting enough daytime sleep. There are children who, by the age of three, drop their naps completely and function just fine without it. More often than not, many children of this age will take a nap on some days, and skip naps on others.
But, how can you know for sure which days to put them down and which to keep them awake?
Our opinion? Let them choose. Here’s how you do it: When it is time for a nap, follow the same routine that you normally would, and then give your child two options. He or she may either read a book and play with quiet toys, or they may sleep.
Yep, that’s right. You will still get the peace and serenity that naptime traditionally brings as your child independently decides whether or not he or she is sleepy, whilst in their own room. This way, if your toddler is tired from skipping a nap the day before, he or she can readily make up for it during their quiet time. If not, they can read or play quietly in their room. It’s that simple!
Just be sure to adjust their bedtime based on the need and your schedule to accommodate any lack of sleep if, for whatever reason, they are sleepy but still won’t sleep during quiet time.
Nap Time for 4 Year Old
If your 4 year old still wants to nap, let them, but be careful.
Generally speaking, 4 year old children can nap about an hour a day if needed. But if you notice your child rising early in the morning, waking frequently throughout the night or going to bed at obnoxiously late times, then it may be time to reconsider.
To drop a nap for a 4 year old, try shortening the duration of the nap that they already have, and be sure to take advantage of those quiet toys, in the meantime. This will entice your child to play, and thereby break the habit of daytime sleep.
Make quiet toys even more alluring by setting aside a special box that is chock full of toys and books that they can ONLY access at nap time. This will add more excitement to the mix.
When all else fails, you could try going cold turkey by forgetting about naptime and leaving the house, instead! Go out, explore and try new things. By the end of the day, they’ll likely be so worn out that they’ll be happy for bed. It’s likely they’ll sleep soundly throughout the night.
Maybe even sleep later in the morning.
The Importance of Naps for Toddlers
Nap time is very important for toddlers and babies, especially those under the age of three. In fact, if your toddler isn’t getting adequate sleep, it’s likely that you’ll know it from their cranky and fussy demeanour. As with infants, an overtired toddler may cry, wail, whine and flail their arms, even at the smallest and most trivial of things.
While the impact of daytime sleep on overall sleep quality is still undecided for toddlers, your child may still be ready to drop all naps if:
- Your Child Is Three Years or Older
- He or She Is Consistently Going to Bed Late
- They Sleep Better at Night When They Haven’t Napped
- He or She Remains Pleasant Even on Days When They Haven’t Napped
- His or Her Overall Sleep Is 12 Hours or More Within 24 Hours
Seven Tips on How to get Toddler to Nap Longer
The process of improving toddler naps is often a give and take. In order to lengthen the duration of toddler naps, consider the following tips:
- Have Fun: As previously mentioned, participating in fun activities outdoors can work wonders for children. Simply take your child out right before naptime to wear them out before their next snooze. Trying to eliminate naps? You can utilise this method too. Just be sure to take your child out during their normal nap time, and not before.
- Have Lunch: Before laying your little one down for a nap, consider feeding them lunch, beforehand. Nix foods with added sugars and opt for protein rich meals, instead. These will work to keep your child satiated, which in turn is likely to promote a more restful sleep.
- Stay Consistent: When you do put your little one down, try to do it at the same time, daily. This sets the expectations for your toddler, as their body gets used to falling asleep at that particular time in the day.
- Quiet Down: As always, make sure that the atmosphere that your toddler is sleeping in is, indeed, conducive for sleep. Be cognisant of the amount of noise that you and other occupants in the home are making. Be aware of activities that you may have been doing prior to putting your little one down that may have piqued their interest.
- Create an Atmosphere for Sleep: Along with quieting down comes creating a cosy space for rest. Utilise blackout curtains, fuzzy blankets, and, if you must, remove all toys to eliminate unnecessary distractions. On the go? Keep your toddler comfy with a toddler travel bed that’s just the right fit for your wee toddler.
- Work With Your Toddler, Not Against Them: As long as your tot is age 3 or older, it is perfectly fine to incorporate quiet toys and books during their naptime routine. Though it may seem counterproductive, it can aid in helping your toddler to sleep longer if he or she requires naps on some days, but not on others.
- Flex and Flow: Along with the above tip, be sure to adjust your child’s schedule depending on the amount of sleep they’ve gotten during the day and the night prior. DO NOT assume that because your child is tired, they will sleep more at night. There is a difference between not needing a nap,and being deprived of one. Trust us, you will regret depriving your toddler of a nap, in more ways than one!
They’re Growing Older… Let Them.
The truth is that your child, if age three or older, is going to eventually drop his or her naps. And no, there isn’t anything you can do about it.
Though this could mark the end of your cherished naptime moments, remember that all is not lost. Try restructuring your day so that you are able to grab some time to yourself during their quiet times. Or at night if you prefer. Some parents even prefer to squeeze in time at the very beginning of their day, before the rest of their family wakes up, to do something special for themselves. Whatever works for you, by all means, do it!
Want even more advice about at what age does toddler stop napping? Check out Healthline’s tips for what to do when your toddler stops napping, to reclaim your sanity… and your toddler’s.