When Do Kids Stop Napping? Tips to Decide When to Reduce Kid’s Nap Time
At What Age Do Your Kids Stop Napping?
Most kids drop their morning nap around 12-18 months and about 43% of kids no longer take naps by their third birthday. The number increases significantly to 74% of kids giving up their naps by the time they turn four years old and up to 85% of kids giving up their naps by the time they turn five years old. The age when kids stop napping varies greatly depending on the child. Every child is different.
Both my kids napped several times a day the first six months of their life, but gradually started dropping their naps as the grew older. Both have very different sleep patterns no matter how hard I try to align their schedules. Most kids go from a handful of naps and end with just two a day until they are about one-years-old.
The first nap to go is the morning nap, which turns into a longer afternoon nap. My almost five-year-old stopped taking naps about 8 months ago. There are times if we keep her extremely worn out with activities that she will still take an hour nap in the afternoon to boost her energy until bedtime. If that does happen it always works out when the baby is sleeping which allows me to catch a break.
My one-year-old still (thankfully) takes one long afternoon nap that varies in length. He gave up his morning nap when he was about 10 months old. I do encourage parents whose kids do not nap, to move that bedtime to one hour earlier. When my daughter skips her afternoon naps, I do notice she starts dozing off about an an hour to one-and-a-half hours before her established bedtime. It’s important to look out for those cues when you see them develop.
Signs That Your Child Still Needs Naps
If your child seems cranky, exhausted or whiny during the day, then naps might still be needed. Toddlers need about 12-14 total hours of sleep to be able to function and develop appropriately. Continuing to offer naps and setting a routine seemed to help my daughter nap for almost four years. If your child happens to wake up cranky from their long nap, then maybe it was just a little too long. Adjust the length of their naps Starting at around 90 minutes.
How to Extend Naps for Kids
Keep pushing those naps mamas, you will thank me later. Any mental break I can take is greatly appreciated, and lately it’s been during naps and/or quiet time. Try these key tips:
- Create an ideal environment for napping. Playing the same music, which can let your child connect that ‘this is nap-time’ will hopefully establish a routine. Purchase products that can assist in creating a sanctuary (i.e. night lights, blankets, loveys).
- Stick to an afternoon nap time. If you establish a nap time and or quiet time at a similar time each afternoon, your child’s internal clock will kick in, letting them know that sleep will follow. I’m not a stickler for adhering to the exact time each day, but it definitely does help set the stage.
- Follow your daycare’s nap schedule. This is highly recommended, so that your child’s internal clock kicks in when they are ready to go to sleep with hopefully no fuss. It also helps your child’s daycare provider if things stay somewhat consistent at home as well.
Another solution for kids who show signs of giving up naps can be a 30-minute rest period that is set during the early afternoon. It’s crucial that this rest period is offered for the early afternoon only, so that tit does not interfere with your child’s bedtime. The longer they nap closer to their bedtime the more difficult the bedtime routine will be.
Benefits of Child Naps During Formative Years
Although your child may no longer need naps, there are still benefits from providing your children downtime each day. Downtime gives your children’s bodies and minds the opportunity to rest, relax and recharge. In addition, it prepares your children for school where naps will be part of their daily schedule.
Your children are not required to actually fall asleep, but if they can keep busy quietly that will be beneficial for them. I like to provide my daughter with quiet activities to do like workbooks, puzzles or crafts. The length of the downtime/quiet time is up to you. I strive to push the nap to between two to four hours, depending on wake time and what activities we did during the day. I make sure to also keep a schedule for quiet time, so that my kids know what to expect.
When You Should Seek Help
Children are all different and that applies to when they stop napping regularly. If your child is older but still naps, you might want to check in with your pediatrician. On the other hand, if your child is resisting their nap, but it’s obvious they still need it, their doctor might provide some solutions, since they need the benefits of rest.
Signs that Your Child Is Ready to Give Up Naps
- If your toddler is able to skip naps without any signs of crankiness or exhaustion, then they may be ready to stop taking naps.
- If bedtime routines are getting more and more difficult, then it’s a good time to stop those afternoon naps.
- If your child is fighting nap time, it might not necessarily mean they’re ready to give up that nap. Sometimes it may be that they are overtired and can’t calm their minds to rest.
Another tip to consider is creating quiet time by offering some books that they can look at during their normal nap period. When we realized that my daughter was ready to give up that last afternoon nap that I so profoundly wanted to hold onto, we instilled quiet time. I have a stack of reading and activities books ready for her to entertain herself with for some quiet time. She has grown fond of this quiet time for all the chaos that happens during the day with a baby brother following your every move.
Be sure to give it a few days and verify if they are indeed ready to lose that nap or if they are just overtired. If the latter, try putting them down earlier and test out different times to help out. Their awake periods change so often, so maybe at one point 1pm worked, but as they get older, they’re able to stay up later than usual before getting sleepy.
I take my naps really seriously, so I always encourage offering naps as much as possible. I will take the quiet time if naps are not an option, like for my oldest daughter. She rarely naps in the afternoons but does partake in quiet time for herself (and without baby brother all up in her business).
Nap times and quiet times are when parents can recharge their batteries and get things done. Nap breaks will eventually go away, which only indicates that your baby is stepping into the big kid phase of life. Enjoy the nap time breaks while they last!