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Toddler Ready To Drop Nap?

Around 3 years old, many parents begin to see a change in their toddler's sleep pattern. Some might wake up during the night, others take a while to fall asleep at bedtime, and others have a personality shift during the day. The question becomes, "is my toddler ready to drop the nap?" or "should I get rid of the nap all together?" The truth is, if it's not broke, don't fix it. Just because your child is within the age range of what's common, doesn't mean you have to force them into something new. Many times, doing things before a child is ready can cause more of a headache than there needs to be, and we can all agree that parenting is hard enough. So, my advice is.....if nothing has impacted their sleep or personality in a negative way, there's no need to change anything. If they still wake up around the same time every morning, if they're falling asleep for the night within a good timeframe (up to 45 minutes), and if they're still taking the nap, then keep things as is.

Now, if you start to see that any type of sleep has become a struggle or if they are refusing nap all together, then you might want to take a closer look to see if it's time to remove their one nap.

As with any nap transition, you want to give your child a least one month of their consistent routine to see if their refusal of that nap (or timing) is consistently rejected. Our job as the parent is to continue offering their nap and it's their job to take it. If after a month, the struggle was consistent, then let's work on dropping the nap.

Signs to look for other than age (usually between 3-4 years old) are:

  1. Bedtime becomes a battle (1 hour or more to fall asleep)

  2. Refusal of nap

  3. Early morning waking (before 6am)

  4. Personality is fine if nap isn't taken and they show no signs of needing sleep

  5. Daycare schedule

If you see that it's now time to remove their nap, there's a couple of things you can do. Rather than quitting cold turkey (which you're more than welcomed to do), you can start to decrease the duration of their nap. Decrease it by 15-20 minutes every 2-3 days, until the nap is gone.

You can also (as I mentioned before) drop it cold turkey. If it's been a month and they are ok without the nap, then dropping it all at once might not have a negative effect at all.

So what do you do when the nap is completely gone? Quiet time. You can still take them to their room, keep the lights dim and give them quiet things to do. No devices. Things like coloring, building, reading, etc. and make those tasks something that is only available during their quiet time so that they don't get bored of it. You can get a cute box and have them decorate it and label it "quite time box," and remind them those activities are only for quiet time.

Children between the ages of 3-5 years old need about 10-13 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period, so once the nap is removed, you can put them down a little earlier than before. Remember, 7-8pm was the sweet spot when were having naps, so you can put them down 30 minutes earlier than their previous bedtime.

As always, you know your child best and know how to meet their needs.

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