It can be a tough call to make, but here are some signs your child is ready to drop their naps completely.
It's the sentence no parent is ever quite ready for: I think it's time to drop the naps.
"No!" you yell, "I'm not ready! I have so much more quiet downtime things I need to do!"
Well, unfortunately for your sanity, the time comes when day sleeps need to disappear in order for your little one to get a better sleep through the night.
Picture infographic: Signs it's time to drop the nap. source: Kidspot.
How Much Screen Time Is Too Much?
How do you know when it's time to drop a nap?
There's no cut off age or time when you have to drop the nap, obviously, every child is different and while some might have forcefully ditched it at two, others will still need an extra snooze at three.
But here are some basic signs that your child is ready to stay awake through the day:
- They're having trouble sleeping at night- If their bedtime seems to be getting pushed later and later, it might be a sign they don't need as much sleep during the day.
- They don't actually sleep during their nap -Naptime has turned into a battle, your child just isn't interested in any shut-eye. Don't fight it, just let it go.
- They are getting through the day without meltdowns - if you get to bedtime without an emotional, overtired wobbly (from your toddler that is, not you) then it's good sigh they are ready.
- Nap time keeps getting later- If you're hitting the dreaded 4pm nap time then it's probably worth it, for everyone's sanity, to try to encourage them to hold out a few more hours.
Screen time shouldn't always be alone time. Co-view, co-play and co-engage with your children when they are using screens—it encourages social interactions, bonding, and learning. Play a video game with your kids. It's a good way to demonstrate good sportsmanship and gaming etiquette. Watch a show with them; you will have the opportunity to introduce and share your own life experiences and perspectives—and guidance. Don't just monitor them online—interact with them, so you can understand what they are doing and be a part of it.
For more information on toddler sleep, check out these articles:
- Sleep help! Dealing with nap time transitions
- My nap time nightmares
- 20 things you need to know about your child's sleep routine
- Quiet time tips for no-nap tots
Picture: Sleepy toddlers are the cutest. iStock
How much sleep do toddlers need?
- By six months about 50 percent of babies are sleeping at least 5 hours in one continuous stretch at night. They are optimistically considered to be 'sleeping through the night'.
- If your toddler regularly sleeps for more than 2 hours during the day, waking him may encourage him to sleep longer at night.
- While day sleeps will still occur, as he approaches his first birthday, your child will get most of his sleep at night.
- Most children will continue to have two sleeps a day until 12 to 15 months, at which point they will transition to one day sleep.
- Toddlers need 10-12 hours sleep a night. Most will continue to have a nap each day that lasts between one and two hours, until they are 3-4 years old.
- Toddlers sleep deepest between 8pm and midnight so getting them to sleep between 7 and 8pm will encourage quality sleep.
- 41% of young children between 2 and 3 years, will still wake once or twice a night, with a smaller percentage waking more often than that.
- Many toddlers will have had all the sleep they need overnight by 5.30 - 6 am.
Exceptions to the rule …
As we know, every child is different so there are a few exceptions to these rules.
According to Jane Barry children who are transitioning out of day sleeping, often need to go to bed a bit earlier at night.
“This is also the case if you have a child who is waking really early in the morning - like 3:30 or 4am. This is a sign that they actually need at least one daytime sleep.”
Growth spurts and change to routine
Any period of growth or change can throw out the “no nap” theory - so Jane advises being flexible and ready to adjust to fit the needs of your child.
Know the value of face-to-face communication. Very young children learn best through two-way communication. Engaging in back-and-forth "talk time" is critical for language development. Conversations can be face-to-face or, if necessary, by video chat with a traveling parent or far-away grandparent. Research has shown that it's that "back-and-forth conversation" that improves language skills—much more so than "passive" listening or one-way interaction with a screen.
All children can benefit from a quiet period in their day, says Jane. So even if your child is no longer taking a nap, don’t overlook the benefits of them spending an hour resting in their rooms reading a book or playing quietly.