When is your toddler ready to drop the nap?

Well, we’ve all heard the expression ‘all good things must come to an end,’ right? It proves true in many cases like good books, beach vacations and chocolate cake…sooner or later, good stuff ends.

We could add something else to that list – naps. It’s true, parents; the naps that were (or perhaps are) a regular part of your baby’s life will gradually decrease, and at some point in your little one’s toddlerhood, they will stop altogether.

Oddly enough, toddlers don’t turn their nose up at napping because they suddenly need less rest — changing sleep patterns are the real culprit. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a baby’s urge to sleep builds up faster than a toddler’s or preschooler’s, so a baby gets tired earlier in the day. By the toddler years, a child’s urge to sleep earlier in the day weakens, allowing him to stay awake longer. Consequently, your child’s need to nap may come and go as his body adjusts to a more adult-like sleep pattern. But biology isn’t totally to blame here — there are a few temporary factors that trigger naptime battles.


Toddlers love to be in control, so it’s no surprise that they’ll refuse to sleep on your command. Plus, kids this age are so active and curious that they hate the idea of taking a snooze break.

Timing conflicts.

The naptime at your toddler’s daycare or preschool may not coincide with the hour your child typically gets tired. If he’s at home, his ideal naptime may conflict with a sibling’s schedule or your daily routine.

Lack of sleep.

It’s hard to believe, but overtired kids may have trouble falling asleep. That’s because when toddlers get tired, they often become irritable and hyperactive.

A major change.

Any stressful event — moving to a new house or switching to a big-kid bed, for example — may make your child feel too anxious to doze off easily.

But how do you know when your toddler is ready to drop the nap completely? The answer is really dependent on each individual child. Some toddlers are finished napping by age 2 and others will continue to nap past age 5. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics indicates that the average age for toddlers to stop napping is sometime between age 3 and 4.

So even though you know the averages, how can you be sure that your toddler is really ready to drop that nap? Be on the lookout for these three signs that your toddler is ready to stop napping:

  1. Your toddler takes a long time to fall asleep at naptime, and generally does not seem tired when naptime rolls around. This is a classic sign that your toddler may be starting to transition away from her afternoon nap. Remember, as your toddler grows, she can gradually handle more and more awake time during the day.
  2. Your toddler takes a long time to fall asleep at bedtime, and generally does not seem tired when bedtime rolls around. This sign often goes hand-in-hand with the previous one. Again, now that your toddler is older, he can handle more awake time. So even his normal nap will eventually be too much afternoon sleep, and it will begin to impact bedtime.
  3. Your toddler skips the afternoon nap entirely, but does not show any negative side effects. If your toddler sometimes skips her nap altogether, but seems fine (no crankiness, does not seem exhausted by early evening, can go to bed at a reasonable time, etc.), this is a good sign that she is ready to transition away from her afternoon nap.

Regardless of your child’s nap schedule, your main concern is to ensure that he gets enough sleep in a 24-hour period. Studies have shown that at age 3, for example, kids need anywhere from 10 1/2 to 15 hours of sleep. When he logs those hours is less important. In fact, many toddlers who stop napping during the day will compensate by sleeping longer at night anyway.

Categories: Little Ones