When Do Toddlers Stop Napping?

 

 

When Do Toddlers Stop NappingExpecting your child to willingly nap throughout the toddler phase is about as realistic as expecting her to not need to poop as soon as you sit down at a restaurant. Many toddlers will start resisting nap time around age 2. Although resisting can be normal toddler behavior, it’s not necessarily a sign that s/he is ready to stop napping altogether. Especially if on no-nap days you notice more meltdowns, bedtime battles and early morning wake-ups.

Read on to find out why it’s normal for your toddler to suddenly start fighting naps and when she or he is developmentally ready to stop napping.

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My Toddler Suddenly Refuses to Nap! Why?

Your toddler will begin to refuse naps for the same reason that she cries when you peel her banana “the wrong way” or won’t let her wear her favorite Frozen shirt for the eighth-day-in-a-row: CONTROL. It’s what the toddler phase is all about.

During this stage of development, your child’s focus is on learning to practice and control her newfound independence. She’ll learn to take charge of bodily functions through potty training, and she’ll insist on dictating other aspects of her life like: what she wears, eats and plays with. Nap time is no exception.

She’s just realized she’s a separate individual from her parent(s), so it’s natural for her to test limits and rules. Refusing to nap is another way of testing how much she can control her world.

Another reason for fighting naps? Could be the 2 year sleep regression. Thankfully, this only causes a temporary disturbance in sleep (assuming your toddler hasn’t stopped napping altogether) and it’s the last sleep regression (feel free to shriek with excitement!) emoji_excited

 

Find Out How To Keep Your Toddler In Her Bed at Nap Time Here

 

When Do Toddlers Stop Napping? Is Mine Ready?

Great! Now you know why your toddler suddenly refuses to nap and screams like a banshee at nap time. Next, it’s time to figure out if she’s ready to stop napping.

It’s important to know whether you should keep fighting for that daily nap or just give up, turn on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and sneak away to inhale a KitKat.

The guidelines below demonstrate when toddlers are developmentally ready to stop napping.  Babies go through nap transitions at predictable ages. The age when toddlers stop napping, though, is pretty varied and depends on several factors. Before making any big decisions, make sure it’s been a consistent 2-3 week period of nap troubles.

 

Your toddler NEEDS A DAILY NAP if most of these are true:

 

  • Younger than 3 years old.
  • Mood changes when she doesn’t nap. She’s more cranky, irritable, whiny and prone to tantrums that day.
  • Night sleep is worse when she hasn’t napped that day.
  • Overall sleep in 24 hours is consistently 11 hours or less.

Your toddler DOESN’T NEED A DAILY NAP if most of these are true:

 

  • Has trouble going to sleep at bedtime on days that she naps. Bedtime ends up being much later.
  • Consistently sleeps better at night when she hasn’t napped that day.
  • Can (usually) handle car or stroller rides around nap time without falling asleep.
  • Mood stays stable despite missing her nap (as stable as you can expect a toddler’s moods to be…)
  • Overall sleep in 24 hours is consistently 12 or more hours.
  • 3 years or older.

 

If the above criteria indicate that your toddler is ready to stop napping… I’m so sorry, Mama. This day was bound to come…

The good news is you can still have Quiet Time every day. Dim the lights and noise and encourage your toddler to play with “quiet toys” like books, puzzles, stickers or coloring. It helps if you put these toys in a special box, only to be played with during “Quiet Time.”

If it looks like your toddler still needs a daily nap, find out how to get her nap back on track here.  

 

Got any questions about toddler naps? Ask Jilly in the Comments Section below.

Let’s stay connected!

20 Comments

  1. Vanessa

    I hired a sleep coach to teach my 10 mo old how to sleep through the night by herself on her crib and it worked! Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to teach her how to take naps independently too, she’s now 12 mo old. Both her naps would only work when I rocked her and keep her in my arms during the whole 1 1/2 hrs. Now that I took a week of vacations from work I’m taking the time to apply the recommended method, made by my sleep coach when I hired her, to put her to sleep her naps. I make a small routine before putting in her crib, then I stay laying on the floor next to her crib and say only key words to make her sleep but only after a little while she start crying her eyes out. I try to comfort her a couple of times but as soon as I stop, because she calms, she starts crying again. I was recommended not to give in all the time so I eventually let her cry but the problem is that she falls sleep crying and I don’t want her to make that association! Even when she wakes up before time, she cries for a while and falls sleep. She’s not taking this process very well unlike when she learnt how to sleep the nights. I thought that now that she knows how to sleep by herself, on her crib, through the night, it would be a piece of cake for her to imitate that on her naps but no! It’s only been 3 days since we started but… should I be worried that she cries herself to sleep? What else can I do to make this process easier for her? Help!!
    Thanks! 😔

    Reply
    • Alyssa Taft

      Hi Vanessa,

      First, be super proud of her progress at night! Amazing! Naps are often more difficult for training because there is more sleep drive at night. But, with your consistency and persistence, she can definitely learn the skill! For a 12 month old with 2 naps, I would recommend 2.5 hours of awake time before nap 1, 3 hours of awake time before nap 2, and 3.5 hours of awake time before bedtime. It is normal for babies to cry during sleep training for a little bit. They are frustrated and learning a new skill. The crying normally will just last during the training process. Both of my girls cried a little bit while sleep training that week but don’t cry anymore!! They won’t associate the crying with sleep training, so don’t worry about that! While nap training, limit any screen time, give your LO lots of outdoor time and physical activity and limit any sugars before naps (fruits and yogurt).

      Best,
      Alyssa, BSMS Support team

      Reply
  2. Emily

    My son will be turning 3 if a few months and I’m wondering how much daytime sleep he should be getting. Some days he goes right down for his afternoon nap and sleeps for 1.5-2hours then sleeps about 11 hours at night. Other days he takes a while to fall asleep for nap but does eventually sleeps for at least 1-1.5 hours. Thanks for any suggestions!

    Reply
    • Alyssa Taft

      Hello Emily,

      At 2 years old, we recommend capping the nap to 2 hours. At 2.5 years old, we recommend capping the nap to 1.5 hours. At 3 years old, we recommend capping the nap to 1 hour. This helps preserve night sleep 🙂

      Best,
      Alyssa, BSMS Support Team

      Reply
  3. Sabrina Allarie

    what is the optimal amount of overnight sleep for a 3-4 year old, 12 hours? What if it is consistently 10 or 11 hours overnight even with no nap, is this not enough sleep at this age?

    Reply
    • Alyssa Taft

      Hello,

      Several sleep foundations encourage 10-13 hours of total sleep for 3-5 year olds. Your LO is still in this range. I would try to encourage 11/12 hours of overnight sleep if you can since your LO isn’t napping. Try and do some quiet time during the day in place of a nap 🙂

      Best,
      Alyssa, BSMS Support Team

      Reply
  4. Pamela

    My baby is two at end of the month. We need help with the best way to transition her to her own bed.

    Reply
    • Alyssa Taft

      Hello!

      Is your LO trying to climb out of the crib? We recommend trying to keep your LO in the crib until closer to age 3 as long as she isn’t climbing out!

      Best,
      Alyssa, BSMS Support Team

      Reply
  5. Jessica

    Hi,

    My 2.5 year old has started refusing naps. I think she still needs one because she is very cranky and has more tantrums now that she isn’t napping, although she does sleep about 12 hours at night. We have a newborn and took her out of daycare so there have been a lot of changes to her daily routine. Any tips to get her to start napping again or at least not have a complete meltdown when we put her in her room? We’ve let her go almost 3 weeks now with no nap and I’m afraid we won’t be able to get her back into a routine.

    Reply
    • Alyssa Taft

      Hello Jessica!

      It sounds like your LO is just a little off because of the changes in her routine. Most 2.5 year olds need a nap so I would continue to have her take one. 60-90 minutes would really help! The best thing you can do is continue to put her in her crib and give her the space to sleep around 5/5.5 hours after she has woken up. Put your white noise on and make sure she is in a blacked out room. Try not to overly stress if she is sleeping. Even if she is having quiet rest time, this will help! Try keeping her in her room for at least 60 minutes and do this for a week and be super consistent to see an improvement!

      Check out this resource for more helpful tips!
      https://www.babysleepmadesimple.com/how-to-get-toddler-to-nap

      Best,
      Alyssa, BSMS Support Team

      Reply
  6. Lindsey

    I am desperate for help. My very strong willed son is almost 4 and still is unable to fall asleep on his own. He would put himself to sleep when he was younger in his crib but as soon as he was moved to a big boy bed for safety reasons he refuses to stay put. His bedtime routine starts around 630 and I hope to have him sleeping by 730. He will never stay in his bed either. There are times where I tuck him in and he immediately gets up and runs down the hall so I have to turn around and put him back in bed over and over. There have been times where this happens for hours. I was so exhausted and angry all the time that I gave in to him and started laying with him to fall asleep. It’s not like that helps any because he’s usually awake again at 930 pm, ultimately waking for the day before 6 am, most of the time ending up in our bed. Not because I want him there but because he gets up and leaves his room throughout the night and I eventually fall asleep hard enough after all the back and forth that I don’t notice him come in. Some days he naps but on those days bedtime takes 3 hours or more. I’d prefer him to nap because his behavior shows he needs it, it’s just another power struggle between us. I am so tired and so desperate. I feel like I am just functioning to survive through the day and night.

    Reply
    • Alyssa Taft

      Hello Lindsey,

      Thanks for your post! It can be exhausting to move over to the toddler bed. We are currently working on a toddler program. In the meantime, check out this resource. It will provide you with helpful tips to get your LO sleeping better in the toddler bed! Hang in there Mama!

      https://www.babysleepmadesimple.com/how-to-transition-toddler-from-crib-to-bed

      Alyssa, BSMS Support Team

      Reply
  7. Gareth Herbert

    Hi, my LO turned 3 a few months ago and stopped napping around that time. He falls between many of the criteria above in that if he naps it takes him forever to get to sleep and he has a terrible night. If he doesn’t nap he will only sleep 11 hours a night. He always been early to bed and before giving up the nap has slept well consistently throughout his life, usually from 18:30-06:00 but since giving up the nap has been waking at 5am every day. He often ends up in bed by 6am now because he is so tired ?

    Reply
    • Alyssa Taft

      Hello Gareth,

      Thanks so much for your message! 11 hours of overnight sleep is great. Do your best to keep your LO in his own crib instead of pulling into your bed because this could very easily become a habit and your LO will wake earlier and earlier. Check out the guide below that can provide you with some helpful tips with early morning wakings. I would also try to give your LO “quiet time” when the nap was supposed to be!

      https://www.babysleepmadesimple.com/toddler-keeps-waking-up-at-5-am

      Alyssa, BSMS Support Team

      Alyssa, BSMS Support Team

      Reply
  8. Nicole

    My daughter is 5 and easily takes an 1 and a half nap daily. She will be in kindergarten this year where they do not nap. I’m wondering if you have ideas of how to gently ween her off naps? She’s seems to only handle about 7 hours of awake time before napping or bedtime.

    Reply
    • Leena

      Hi! I’d make sure she gets 12 hours night sleep each night. That can ensure she can go all day without needing a nap. Try trimming her nap and waking her at the 1 hour mark. This can help her sleep longer at night. It will be hard the first few days, but being at school will help distract her. She can have a TINY 20 min nap on the car ride home from school if needed. Good luck starting kindergarten! My daughter is also 5 and loves school. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Tiphaine Alston

    Hi, I need help with a way to get my daughter to go to sleep on her own. She has just turned 2 and I only just weaned her from the breast. Up until now, she has been breastfed to sleep with me lying next to her in bed. Now I want to teach her to get to sleep on her own. I tried sitting in a chair next to her bed but after 7 days she was still screaming hysterically for an hour before she finally passed out. Do you have any gentle, minimal crying solutions??!

    Reply
    • Leena

      Hi Tiphaine! So sorry to hear about your LO’s sleep struggle! It may seem impossible right now, but there’s always hope to get your LO settling easily and sleeping well.

      I would definitely recommend joining our program, 21 Days to Peace&Quiet for you. The program has 4 step-by-step methods that walk you through teaching your baby how to settle to sleep on their own, which will show them how to resettle during night wakings too. It also covers reducing and
      fully weaning off night feeds.

      With 3 of the methods you stay with your baby as you teach them to sleep better. You don’t have to leave
      the room if you don’t want to. And you can choose a slower, more gradual method to reduce your baby’s
      resistance, fussing and crying. We can’t promise “no tears” but you can work to minimize baby’s resistance.
      We also accommodate for your baby’s temperament too. Each lesson has tips on tweaking the steps to suit
      your baby’s energy levels, sensitivity and adaptability.

      I’m confident we can get you and your baby sleeping great!

      Here are all the details:

      https://www.babysleepmadesimple.com/21-days-to-peace-quiet-program

      Happy to answer any other questions you have about the program. / Leena, BSMS Support Team

      Reply
  10. Alex

    Hi, Great advice which has helped me and my wife out however out of curiousity why are these ALWAYS written in the context of a daughter, “She this and her that, etc” why not use neutral words such as “they, their, etc”. I am by NO means buying into the whole gender neutral crap but I feel it is a bit sexist when these posts are always in context of a daughter, I have two sons.

    Kind Regards

    Reply
    • Leena

      Hi Alex and thank you for your feedback! I’ve noticed the same thing, in the English language, it is a bit more personal if used he/she instead of they and their and we try to rotate them as often as possible.

      We always appreciate any feedback for us to improve our communication, we will take this to heart.

      For any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us again!

      / Leena, BSMS Support Team

      Reply

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