Ditching The Daily Nap: 3 Tips For An Easier Transition
My little one is still the nap master (and I thank him every day for it!). But I know that in the not so near future, he'll be ready to take on the full day without a 2-3 hour sleep sesh. Biologically speaking, most kids are ready to drop naps around age three, but this varies greatly, with some kids still napping at age 5 and others quitting as early as two.
So maybe you've seen the signs that it's time to forego the nap - where do you begin? We did some digging and found 3 tips to make the difficult transition just a little easier and less stressful:
1. Don't Quit Cold Turkey
Most experts agree that it's not best to nix naps abruputly. Instead, slowly begin to shorten naps over a period of weeks or months instead of immediately implementing a "no nap" policy.
Over time, kids will naturally begin to skip naps, but it's important to note that it may not mean they're ready to nix them altogether. "Many parents will eliminate the last nap because their child has been resisting it for a few days," says Jenn Kelner, a certified child sleep consultant at BabyZzz. During the transition, it's not uncommon for kids to go nap-free for a few days, then need a nap the next. Know that it's not necessarily a sign of regression, and that an occasional nap may just be the extra shut eye she needs as she continues through the transition.
2. Consider Daily "Rest Time"
As your little one transitions to less frequent naps, many experts (and moms!) agree that daily rest is a necessity. "Toddlers who don't nap still need to recharge their bodies during the day," says Lori Strong, a certified child sleep consultant at Strong Little Sleepers. Creating a daily "rest time" enforces the idea that it's important to relax and re-energize, even if you're not sleeping.
DailyMom offers some great tips for creating an effective mid-day rest environment:
- Set a beginning and end so your little one knows rest time is a definite period of time. Try to keep it the same length of time every day.
- Create a daily routine that leads up to daily rest time. Much like bedtime routines, daily rest time routines are key to getting your child into the habit of taking a mid-day break.
- Set up a special place for rest time. Ideally, this should be someplace quiet, dimly light, cool, with no enticing toys around. Make sure your child thinks it’s a cozy, special place to be. For this reason, sleeping bags or play tents can work well!
- For older children, consider playing a book on tape or allowing the child to read a stack of books, play with puzzles or do some other quiet, calm activity. It helps to have special books or quiet toys that are designated only for rest time.
3. Implement Earlier Bedtime
When naps come to an end, it's important to be prepared for an earlier bedtime. Consider moving bedtime up by 30 minutes to one hour. Remember, toddlers need approximately 12-14 hours of sleep a night, so it's important to maximize the nighttime hours once naps are out of the picture.
When transitioning your toddler to a no-nap routine, keep these general guidelines in mind:
- 90% of children are still napping at age 3
- By age 4, about 50% still nap at least 5 days a week
Of course, like everything else in parenting, use your judgment to determine what's best for your little one and be sure to consider whether your little one is ready to transition to a no-nap routine.