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Hi, I’m Dana Obleman. This week’s question comes from Lynn, and she asks:
“How do I know when my toddler is ready to drop her nap?”
That’s a great question. And I really find that it tends to be fairly apparent dependent. I can remember with my three children. I like my children to go to bed at 7:00 p.m. They still do to this day and that’s the way that I like things because I like to have, you know, some evening time.
So, I found that when naps started to interfere with that, then that was a good time to end the nap for my children. Now, I’ve had clients that don’t mind a later bedtime – say 8:30, 8:00 – and want to keep the nap. And that’s fine too. You know, maybe you’ve got other children and you just find that gives you a little bit of a break during your day, then absolutely go ahead and keep the nap.
So, that’s where you start. Decide which one you prefer and then go with that. And the average age, you know, can be as early as two. And I’ve had clients with children still napping, you know, into the three – three and a half. So again, if it’s an older child – three or older – I would say that’s a situation where the parent has decided, “I’m going to keep the nap and I don’t mind a little bit of a later bedtime.”
Now, the interesting thing about losing the nap is that most children will readily go down for a nap and they’ll seem tired, and ready for their nap. So, it’s not really the nap that causes the problem, it’s bedtime. So, if your child had a nap and now you’re getting her ready for bed at 7:00 and she ends up being in her crib, or her bed for an hour or more singing, talking to herself, you know, playing games with you, coming out of her room, then it’s time to have a look at whether or not the nap is affecting bedtime.
And a lot of people think that the first signs are that the child won’t take a nap or will still seem tired. They’ll still seem tired. You know, when you’re making a significant change to your child’s sleep habits it takes a good 4 – 6 weeks for the body to adjust to that. So, even if you do decide to pull the nap, don’t be surprised if your toddler seems ready, and tired, and maybe a bit grumpy throughout the day.
And that’s why I suggest you start implementing what I would call “quiet time” and that would be when nap usually occurred you’d put your child in their bedroom, get them engaged in a quiet activity – maybe doing some coloring, or playing with cars, or looking at books – and then set a timer, you know, for half an hour – 45 minutes and let them have some independent playtime that does not involve you, or the television, or any kind of overstimulation. And consider it some downtime for both you and the child. And it might take a little practice to keep your toddler there and to make it a rule that we have quiet time “this is what we do”. But a lot of children – once they know there’s no way around it – tend to enjoy it. It’s a little bit of independence and learning how to entertain yourself which is very important. And you get yourself, you know, a little bit of a break as well.
And then you might still find that there’s a bit of a meltdown around the dinner hour for the first couple of weeks, but that’s okay. Just remind yourself it’s just your child’s body adjusting to the changes and know that in about a month’s time you’ll feel more confident that your child has adjusted well, okay?
So, I hope that helps — and sleep well!
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