It’s a bittersweet experience when your little one gives up their final daytime nap. It’s a sure sign that they’re growing up, which is wonderful to see, but it also marks an end to the hour or two a day that you had to yourself.
It’s also a bit of a tough transition, and can be confusing if you’re not sure they’re ready for it. Today, I’ve got some tips to help you decide if it’s time to give up that last nap, and how to make the change with as little impact on your little one’s sleep habits as possible.Rather read than watch? Click here.
I know, it’s a sad day, I remember too. But I’m gonna give you a few tips here today to both identify if it’s time and then what to do about it.
So what I find happens with most toddlers is that they’ll very happily take their afternoon nap, or maybe not super happily, but they go down for their afternoon nap, and they sleep a good two, sometimes even three hours. And you’re thinking, “Well, she clearly still needs “her daytime nap.”
But then the trouble starts at bedtime. And there’s lots of game playing going on, there’s lots of stalling tactics, there’s lots of singing and talking and babbling to herself. And this can go on for an hour or two at bedtime. And then by the time she finally falls asleep, it’s nine o’clock at night.
She gets up at seven with a little bit of a sleep debt and now the whole cycle starts again. So I find that that’s the most common sign that it might be time to start either minimizing your child’s daytime sleep or eliminating it completely.
And it really depends on what your preference is. You know, I tell this to some parents and they think, “Oh my gosh, I can’t live without that afternoon nap.” And if that’s you, then that’s fine, you can keep it, but just know that you’re gonna need to adjust the bedtime accordingly.
So if you’ve got a toddler who is napping at noon till two, going to bed at seven, but fooling around in there till nine o’clock at night, you’re gonna need to move bed time to about eight or 8:30. That would be more appropriate, that’s gonna give her enough time to be fatigued enough that she’s gonna fall asleep in a timely fashion at bedtime.
Now, for other parents, myself included, the thought of keeping my child up till eight or 8:30, that’s no good for me. Right, I always loved my kids in bed at 7:00 p.m., so for me, pulling daytime nap made more sense. Now, let’s talk a little bit about minimizing daytime sleep. For some kids, that works. You know, if they’re usually taking a three hour nap and you cut that down to two and see if it makes a difference to what’s going on at bedtime, sometimes it helps. So I would definitely say it’s worth a try.
Now, for other kids, minimizing daytime nap does not work, and all that happens is you have a very grouchy child on your hands for the rest of the afternoon. My middle son was this way. If I woke him up from a nap, he was such a bear for the rest of the afternoon that for me it just wasn’t worth it. I’d rather pull it completely, have him in bed at 7:00 p.m., than deal with this grouch all afternoon.
So that was just our scenario.
So have a good look at what’s going on with your child. If minimizing works, great. If it doesn’t, then consider eliminating completely. Now, the best way to eliminate completely is to still require a child to have some quiet time. So I used to put my children in their cribs, I kept my kids in their crib for a long time, and I would put a couple of books in there, and maybe some little trinket cars, and I would just say, “It’s just quiet time. “So you’re gonna be in here “having some quiet time on your own. “If you feel like sleeping, fine. “If you don’t, that’s okay too.” And I would give it about 30 to 45 minutes. And I find that just helps take the edge off a little bit, it’s kind of a rest, it’s a little bit of a breather in the day, that they have better stamina to make it through till bedtime.
If your child’s not in a crib, than I would suggest that you put them in their room with a few activities, coloring maybe, or playing with blocks, kind of give them some ideas of what they could do on their own. Set a timer for 30 to 45 minutes and then require them to play independently for that time. And that’s gonna take a little work, you might have to keep returning them to the room, “It’s not time yet, wait for the timer.”
But as they get the hang of this, they’re going to, you know, amuse themselves for a period of time in the afternoon and that does a couple of things. One, it gives them that little bit of a breather, gives you a bit of a break, and it also teaches them how to play independently. Which I think is becoming a lost art and I think it’s very important that we encourage and show and teach our children that they do not always need constant entertainment, that they are capable of entertaining themselves with a variety of things right in front of them.
So definitely keep and implement a quiet time. I don’t find that television is a very good quiet time, even though they’re sitting and staring at the TV, it’s very stimulating, so it doesn’t really provide that same little break in the day that’s gonna carry them through.
So one last tip before I say goodbye. This transition is one of the hardest of all of the transitions. So your child will have a little bit of a sleep debt for most likely four to six weeks after you implement no nap, okay. So you’re gonna wanna make sure that bed time is at least seven and it might even need to be 6:30 for a couple of weeks, if they’re really getting overtired. And just know that it’s gonna be a bit of a struggle, your child will still seem tired, there’ll be a little bit of afternoon grouchiness happening, and that’s okay, right. It’s better to, once you’ve made the decision to go for it, just go for it, because the sooner your child’s body clock gets in line with this, the better they’re going to be adjusting and the better they’re going to be doing throughout the day.
Thanks so much for watching. Sleep well.
If your baby, infant or toddler is having trouble sleeping through the night, help is just a click away! The Sleep Sense Program has helped over 57,00 parents to get their kids sleeping 11-12 hours through the night AND taking long, restful naps during the day. If you’re ready to get started today – I’m looking forward to helping you!
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