I am passionate about naps. Probably over zealous, but naptime is a golden time in our house. It is rarely, if ever, missed. Friends and family tease me about having set times, because we still do have set times at 3 yo and almost 5 yo. Yes, my 4 yo still naps some of the time, and he still has rest time every day irregardless.
No, my kids do not always nap. Yes, it does stress me a little to wish I could “fix” it, but they know without a shadow of a doubt that they will still be in their beds for 1.5-2 hours…whether they can fall asleep or not. They also know that there are “sleep rules” (in the bed, quiet) and that 9/10 times we will not come back in until nap is over. I realize this may sound time intensive or strict but sleep training has been worth every second.
The one thing that is hard for me is dropping naps. I hate to give up that precious sleep that might need, but usually I am holding on to it for them. In fact, this is the situation where my husband has almost always been right every single time…when it is time to drop or shorten a nap. I hate it. I hate to admit he is right, ha ha. I hate that they are growing older. I hate that it means another transition.
My son will be five next month, and it has taken me almost that long to realize that naps can be dropped gracefully. Some of these suggestions work better with older children. I am very out of practice with going from anything more than two to one nap, and there are other blogs I can suggest that do a much better job of working through those earlier transitions. Going from two to one nap and shortening “the” nap have become all too familiar! Here a few things we have learned in the process:
- Consider advice from others (dear husband) that your toddler may actually need less sleep
- Accept and appreciate that each child is different in sleep needs and ability to handle transition
- Plan stimulating activity to keep more active children awake during that normal sleep time or quieter, cuddle time for children that are more prone to overstimulation
- Cold turkey worked well for both of my children…waited until the am nap was only a 30 min rest time without falling asleep and then transition straight to early pm nap
- Alternating nap days (no am nap 2-4 days a week) or pushing the am nap later and later works better for others that have a hard time adjusting
- Expect toddlers to actually go back to needing a little bit more sleep during growth spurts
- Look for optimum wake time in order to preserve bedtime and wake toddler by that time (3:30-4 pm for both of mine)
- Keep a nap routine to set the stage for rest time if they cannot sleep as well as a nap wakeup routine for toddlers that do not do well waking up from a hard nap
- Consider moving nap 15 minute later after 2-4 weeks of not falling asleep well
- Consider moving to quiet time after age 3 usually after consistently not napping for 4 days out of the week and still having good behavior until bedtime
- As you move towards quiet time and even while transitioning other naps avoid missing more than two days of a nap in a row