When do kids stop napping?
Ever heard the expression ‘all good things must come to an end’? It proves true in many cases, doesn’t it? Good books, beach vacations, chocolate cake… sooner or later, good things end.
We can add something else to this list – naps. It’s true! The naps that were (or perhaps are) a regular part of your baby’s life will gradually decrease. At some point in your little one’s young life, they will stop altogether.
But how do you know when your toddler is ready to drop the last nap and stop napping completely? We are answering that question in today’s article.
Today we’ll outline signs that your toddler is ready to stop napping, as well as share tips for how to handle this transition.
Nap Transitions: A Quick Glance
In the first 12 months of your baby’s life, nap transitions tend to happen fairly quickly. Your baby will transition from 5 or 6 naps each day to just 2 naps in their first year! Then, at some point between 15-18 months, your toddler will transition from 2 naps to just 1.
The age for kids to stop napping varies greatly. Some toddlers stop napping by age 2-3, while other kids will continue to need naps past age 5! However, the average age for kids to stop napping is sometime between age 3 and 4.
3 Signs Your Child is Ready to Stop Napping
Obviously, the window of time in which that transition from one nap to no naps can happen is a BIG window. So even though you know the averages, how can you be sure that your toddler is really ready to drop that last nap? What signs should you look for?
Taking Too Long to Fall Asleep at Naptime
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 awake time during the day. For example, let’s say your toddler normally wakes up at 7 a.m. While it may be true that, just a few weeks ago, she was tired and ready for a nap by 12:30 or 1, as she grows, she will be able to stay awake longer.
Taking Too Long to Fall Asleep at Bedtime
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. Let’s say that lately, your toddler has been resisting his afternoon nap, and instead of falling asleep when you lay him down at 1:30 p.m., he does not actually drift off to sleep until 2:30 p.m. This could mean that, instead of waking up at 3:00, he wakes up at 4:00 (or perhaps even later). The problem here is that this later wake-up time will almost surely translate into problems at bedtime.
Of course, even toddlers who nap at their normal times may go on to put up a fight at bedtime. Why? 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.
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.
“When my eldest was 2 1/2 years old, he would take his normal nap, which had grown to a glorious 2 1/2 hours, but then he began to need 7 hours of awake time before bed! You can imagine that a 10 pm bedtime was practically past my bedtime! It pained me to cut his nap down and then cut it out completely. His brother, on the other hand, took naps on some days and not others for over a year, yet never reached a 10 pm bedtime (he got pretty close with 9:30, though). Keep in mind, though, that skipping a nap one day here or there is one thing, but every day is quite another.”
Here is something to keep in mind: the signs listed above can seem like problems that we parents need to solve. While this can certainly be true (especially for toddlers who have a history of nap issues, or problems sleeping through the night), these ‘issues’ can also be a sign that it’s time to cut out the afternoon nap. Sometimes, all parents need to do is phase the afternoon nap out of the schedule, and their toddlers’ sleep problems resolve themselves.
How to Help Your Kids Stop Napping
Nap transitions can be tricky. How do you handle the transition from one nap to none?
Well, for starters, keep in mind that it will look different from toddler to toddler. Some toddlers may be able to stop napping from day one, and will almost never need another afternoon nap. Other toddlers may make the transition more gradually.
When Kids Sometimes Nap and Sometimes Don’t
For instance, your toddler might go 3 days without an afternoon nap, but on day 4, he may need that nap. Believe it or not, my middle son did this for over a year! It started out as an every other day thing when he was about 3 years old. He’d nap one day but not the next. Then, over time, he had more and more no-nap days, until we were down to napping once a week, or once every 10 days. It wasn’t until he was about 4.5 years old that he was able to go weeks at a time without a nap.
When Kids Aren’t Tired
As you work through this transition, use your toddler’s cues as a guide. If your toddler genuinely does not seem tired at naptime, then don’t try to force a nap. Instead, have ‘rest time’ – put your toddler in bed with some books and small toys, and have her play quietly for an hour. This is a win for everyone: it gives you a break, it allows your toddler to entertain herself and rest, and, if your little one is tired, she has the quiet and relaxed environment she needs to lie down and sleep.
Adjusting Bedtime for When Kids Stop Napping
Keep in mind, too, that in the early stages of this nap transition, you may need to adjust bedtime a bit. Remember, overall sleep amounts tend to stay consistent for babies and toddlers.
2-year-olds need 12-14 hours of sleep each day, while 3 years olds need more like 11-13 hours.
So, if your toddler is no longer napping, he may need to go to bed a bit earlier (and he may wake a bit later in the morning) in order to compensate for that missing daytime sleep. This is normal. Or, if your toddler is like my middle son, on the days when he does nap, you may have to wake him from sleep. (This ensures that he doesn’t sleep too late into the evening.)
No Nap, Rest Time Toy Ideas
PRO TIP: Have several items that will live in a special “rest time only” box or closet. Before rest time, allow your toddler to choose one or two for that day. After rest time is over, have him or her put them back in place. These toys are only available for rest time. This will make rest time more appealing and fun and avoid your toddler from getting tired of them. Win, win!
Here are a few ideas for rest time toys:
Books – We spent SOOO many hours with this book! Look at all the animals! The book is so colorful that it keeps toddlers busy for long periods of time. There are other books in the series with different types of animals, colors, trucks, things that go, and numbers. Choose any topic and your toddler can marvel in whatever they might be interested in.
Hot Wheels – These Hot Wheels cars kept my boys occupied for hours. Of course, toddlers want to play with cars throughout the day so consider having specific cars just for rest time. Or, you can consider having a Hot Wheels Garage or other accessory that’s just for rest time. Just make sure they’re safe for your little one and it’s not something they need help with since the goal is independent play.
Puzzles – Melissa & Doug make some wonderful products. These puzzles are great to keep toddlers occupied and help them learn spatial recognition. There are many different themes for these puzzles so choose one that appeals to your toddler. They’re offered in dinosaur, marine life, farm themes, and more. The big pieces make it a lot easier for toddlers to do on their own.
Latch Board – Puzzles not your toddler’s thing? Try this Latches Board instead! You open the latch and see something inside. This will help your toddler work on their fine motor skills without even knowing it!
Duplo Legos – These large Legos are perfect for little hands! Let your toddler use their imagination during rest time and build to their heart’s content.
Little People – Many toddlers love to play with dolls and people so they can play make-believe. These Little People toys are great for all types of toddlers.
118 thoughts on “3 Signs Your Toddler Is Ready To Stop Napping and How To Transition to Rest Time”
My son is 18 months old. Lately, his daily 2.5 hour nap (11:30-2ish) is interfering with bed time causing him to stay up later and he doesn’t seem tired by 8pm, and he wakes early cranky. Do you ever recommend shortening naps for toddlers this young?
Hi @Sue – Thanks for writing! Sorry to hear your toddler has been having some sleep issues with his bedtime and early waking! Please check out our free sample toddler schedules here:
At this age, one nap is great, and if his nap is long and pushing bedtime too late, do feel free to shorten it (a little bit at a time), to find the sweet spot for his nap lengths! Hope it goes smoothly Sue!
We are trying to determine if our almost 2yo, who has the worst case of FOMO, is showing signs for phasing out naptime. She has never slept consistently throughout the night (0-2 wakings when not sick) and has always fought bedtime (currently 8:30 because she would just scream for longer if we tried earlier). This could be a 1-3hour affair, despite attempts at routines, where sleep will eventually happen between 9-11pm! Waking can be anywhere from 6-7:30am, where we can sometimes lull her back to sleep with a bottle. She has had 1 nap since starting daycare around 14 months, and consistently goes down for them, or we occasionally get a report that she does quiet play during that time. At home we have never had a consistent time we could get her to nap (despite trying to mimic daycare routines and all!), but typically she would eventually fall asleep (more often in the stroller while on a walk, than not) for 1.5-2.5 hours in the afternoon. Recently with us she’s been refusing naps all together, though my husband will put in a good 2-hour effort with success sometimes while I will more likely try for shorter spurts intermittently through the afternoon but usually fail. She might show signs of being cranky on those no-nap days by the time the sleep routine would usually begin (~7:30) and we find she falls asleep without the 1-3hour struggle on those nights (so 8:15-9pm sleeping without all the resistance).No apparent changes to the 0-2 overnight wakings on these days, or the time she wakes.
So, given her young age, the struggles we’ve had from the beginning and thus the challenge of knowing if something is ‘no longer’ going well that might require a change, is it possible she’s starting to transition to a no-nap phase? Of course tips for any of her crazy sleep issues would be appreciated!!!
Hi @Heather –
Thanks for writing, and so sorry to hear that your toddler has been having a tough time with sleep! This article should be very helpful!:
As you’ll read in this article, we advise parents to treat 2 year old nap resistance as a regression, and not as something permanent. Most children won’t completely give up their naps until 3 or 4. It’s best to simply stay consistent with your 2 year old’s schedule and routine, and to not give up on the nap just yet. Good luck and hang in there Heather!
I have a 2.2 year old, he has always been a fantastic night sleeper and still is, but we have had some struggles with his nap times. I am expecting our second in 7 weeks, so I am aware that this is probably causing a little anxiety on him, knowing something is about to happen but not fully understanding. He is also in the middle of potty training which is now going mostly well. Since about 18 months he has only had 1 sleep, and he will usually go down at 11am and sleep for at least 2.5hours. if he has any less then that he is ratty and very unhappy all afternoon until bedtime at around 7.30pm. The last 2 weeks he has fought his nap times despite being obviously very tired. He will get up and play or whatever regardless of how many times he is put back into bed. The only way I can get him to sleep is by lying down with him, which I don’t want him to get into the habit of, because when number 2 comes, that’s going to be a bit difficult, as well as sleep time being the only time I get to do my university study. I don’t think he is ready to drop his sleep yet, but am not sure how to make his naptime easier. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks 🙂
Hi @Carla, thank you for writing to us, and congratulations on your new baby coming. 🙂 We are very close, I’m due with my 3rd in 8 weeks, and also have a son your son’s age – so I can relate to much of what you’ve said. We went through a little hiccup with naps right around 2 years, but I agree – it’s not time to give up the nap just yet, most kids drop between ages 3 and 4 – hang on to it, you’ll need it with that second coming! Lots of changes, as well as potty training, can definitely cause some issues so hang in there. Here is a link to a sample toddler schedule that may help you out: https://www.babysleepsite.com/schedules/toddler-schedule/ sometimes it’s as simple as a timing issue! It may help to try experimenting with nap times but making sure you don’t hit the point of no return where he gets so over tired he doesn’t nap at all. My son’s schedule is slightly different than the one I’ve linked above, so you may need to tweak it to find the sweet spot. If you need more help, we have an ebook with tons of sample schedules that can help with your nap struggles, and it’s a pretty quick read as well since I know you’re balancing school work as well: https://www.babysleepsite.com/mastering-naps/
If you find you need more help, with your son or the new baby, we are here! Hope this helps and good luck with everything!
My 23 month old has always been a great sleeper – 10-11 hours at night and 2.5-3 hours during the day. He dropped from 2 naps to 1 when he was 13 months old. When he has a nap he goes to bed around 9pm. He’ll rise between 7-7.30am and normally needs a 2.5 hour nap from 11.30am. Recently he’s been resisting the nap and has eventually fallen asleep around 3pm until 5.30! This means bedtime is 10pm and later and he struggles to nod off. Today he resisted his nap and so I kept him going until 7pm. He was a little tearful around 6pm so we had a bath to keep him happy. 7pm came and he fell asleep within 5 minutes! I’m hoping he sleeps all night or at least until 6am ish! Am I wrong to keep him going some days if he is not going down for his nap? Mama needs an hour an evening for housework, instead of staying up late because he’s not tired!
@Rebecca – Thank you for reading and for sharing with us! 2 year old sleep can be quite a pickle! As a part of their development, many 2 year olds do require much more wake time between sleep and have much later bedtimes when they are still napping during the day. You may want to look over his schedule to be sure you’re asking him to sleep at the right times for his new “almost” 2 year old self. If your little guy just doesn’t nap during his nap time, putting him down a bit earlier for bedtime is perfectly okay. Hang in there, Rebecca!
My son is 3 and will be 4 in August he has a hard time falling asleep at nap time and when we try to skip nap time Bc I’ve laid him down for about an hour he ends up asleep by 6 and up at 8 even if I try to keep him up. Any ideas?
Hi @Cynthia, thanks for writing to us! I’m sorry you’ve been struggling with your son’s nap transition. It is a tough one. My son started transitioning out of his nap around that same age and totally stopped a few weeks before he turned 4. What I started doing was implementing a rest time that I still made soothing and dim so he could sleep if he needed. There were lots of days he would nap, and other days he would play the whole time until the rest was over. This was a good transition for us because it helped balance him out and I adjusted his bedtime based on if he took a nap or not and when he fully dropped him, we pushed his bedtime back permanently (just a little bit). Here is a sample schedule for a toddler/preschooler that may help you with the timing of things to know what to do depending on if he naps or not: https://www.babysleepsite.com/schedules/toddler-schedule/
I hope this helps and you’re able to tweak the schedule a bit so he doesn’t end up taking a super late nap in the day and making bedtime super late for you. Let us know if you need any more help and we’ll gladly send you over more resources.
My son is 19 months and his nap is very unpredictable. We’ve always struggled with naps, yet he slept through the night from 2-3 months old (at least there’s that). Bedtime was difficult for awhile until we transitioned to one nap around 14 months, when it was getting impossible to put him down in the morning. Since then he drops right off for the night around 8:30 and sleeps for 11 hours. Still, his one afternoon nap has gotten continually shorter to now around 30-45 minutes, and a nightmare to fall asleep. He is very active and not the type to just play quietly in his bed for a “quiet time.” He occasionally will have two or three day stretches with a nice 2-hour nap, which doesn’t seem to affect his bedtime on those days, but then it’s back to catnapping for the next few weeks. We have a consistent bedtime routine and a shortened version of this for nap time — snack and a cup of milk, diaper change, darken room/white noise on, a short song. Like I said, at night he’s out almost immediately but for a nap he can scream for up to an hour before wearing himself out. I don’t want to think he’s dropping the nap altogether, but his behavior now is similar to what he was doing before we dropped the morning nap…
@Rebecca – Thank you for reading and for sharing with us. The no-nap transition can definitely be a bit tough and can take quite a while to manifest completely. We’ve typically seen this transition closer to 3-4 years old though it has been known to happen earlier for a variety of reasons. You can consider looking into his complete daily schedule for opportunities to tweak it/make it more compatible to napping or even discussing this with one of our expert consultants. You should consider one of our free 15-min evaluations to find out if what you’re experiencing is indicative of this transition or if you could benefit from more support. Hang in there, Rebecca!
Hi Neosha and Rebecca,
I am in the same situation. My twins boys are 17 months, almost 18. For the past month they have been very restless at nap time and will not fall asleep for over an hours with comforting. Before this they would babble and move round in bed for over an hour until they get bored and drop off to sleep. Now they need putting to sleep which is a long process. We have always struggled with getting them to have a consistent nap which would make our day to day very stressful so we cut the morning nap at 12months. Although, they have had a very solid bedtime routine from 3 months and will sleep for 11-12 hours at night. They would sleep between 12 and 3pm and then go back to sleep around 8pm until 7-8 am. Lately, we have all been struggling trying to put them down for a nap because they just want to play and are showing me that they do not want to be in a boring darkened room. Yesterday, unintentionally, they had no nap throughout the day. We was out all day and did not get home until after 5 which meant dinner and bedtime routine. They happily ate their dinner and fell asleep by 6:30pm. One of my sons slept until 7:30 am and the other until 8:30 am. Today has been a good day. They have happily played and I have gently worked around them to see if they show signs of tiredness. It is 4:30pm and they are a little slower that usual but no signs of distress nor the urge to sleep.
Which leads me to my question…
Am I doing something wrong not continuing to encourage them to have any nap at almost 18 months old?
If they my show signs of tiredness I will definitely let them sleep as I do with my 2 year old.
I look forward to your insight ?
Hi @Maurita – Thanks for writing, and sorry that your twins are both struggling with sleep! We know how tough this can be, especially with twins, and you’re not doing anything wrong! It sounds like you’re doing your best, and are working towards making sure that they get enough sleep!! 18 months is a common “trouble” spot for sleep. Check out this article for some insight and help:
I hope that things smooth out. Hang in there and keep offering those naps!
Hello, my son is 2.5 years old. He has started to resist his day time nap. If I am successful and get him down for a nap, he usually sleeps two hours but then won’t fall to sleep until 8:30pm, sometimes later. It is taking me 1-1.5 hours to get him to nap some days. No matter what time he goes to bed he wakes up any time between 5:00 – 6:30am. I feel like he needs his day time nap as he is very tired come 6pm but he seems to be showing clear signs of dropping the nap. He also is waking up 2-3 times a night. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks 🙂
@Toni – Thank you for reading and for sharing with us. 2 year old sleep can definitely be tricky and tough and knowing when your toddler is ready to stop napping completely can be even tougher! The good and bad news is that this is one transition that doesn’t usually happen quickly – it can take several months to fully happen. Reconsidering his schedule may be the next step for you to get his napping better under control/more predictable. Please consider connecting with one of our sleep consultants who can better help you through this. You can read more about our lovely ladies here:https://www.babysleepsite.com/about Hang in there, Toni!
Hi! My son to be 4 year old is starting to drop his nap but is waking super early in the morning. I’ve tried the 630/645 bedtime but he is waking before 530am. I moved it to 7 and he’s still waking at 530. Last night he only slept 10 hrs when before on one nap he was sleeping 11 hrs or more total. It’s driving me crazy. He’s acting just fine but I know he’s still tired. This transition is not going well 🙁
Hi @Afton, thanks for writing to us. I’m sorry to hear you’ve been struggling with early wakings from your almost 4 year old. Here is a link to a sample schedule for a toddler/preschooler (just scroll down to see the no nap schedule) to see if there are any changes you may decide you need to make there as early waking is very often a scheduling issue: https://www.babysleepsite.com/schedules/toddler-schedule/
If you need more help, let us know. We have often worked with families with preschool aged children and would love to help your family as well should you need it. Hang in there!
My son turned 3 in November. A while back we shortened his nap to 1 hour to avoid prolonged bedtimes, and it seemed to help. That hour-long nap used to be from about 2-3, but now it is 3-4 (he started going to preschool after the New Year, and it doesn’t have naptime, so we can’t start till he gets home). Bedtimes are now a toss-up… Sometimes they go smoothly and he’s asleep relatively quickly with minimum intervention from Mom or Dad after we leave. But increasingly we’ve been dealing with jack-in-the-box behavior and major attitude at nighttime (coming up with eye-roll reasons to get out of bed, spitting water, hitting, talking back, laughing at us when we try to reason with him, etc.). He can be defiant during the day, but in general he’s much sweeter & more obedient until bedtime. I’m thinking it might be time to cut his nap altogether–a lot of this behavior seems to stem from him not being tired until an hour after bedtime (we shoot for 8-8:30 and he hasn’t been falling asleep till 9-9:30… And he consistently wakes up at/shortly after 6). My only hesitation is naptime is a glorious affair! He consistently goes to sleep quietly after some nice cuddles, no drama whatsoever. Most advice I’ve seen suggests keeping nap until it becomes a fight. But if it could solve our bedtime woes and maybe get him sleeping in a bit later, that’d be a game changer. I’d love your thoughts!
Hi @Linnea, thanks for writing to us. I’m sorry to hear you’ve been struggling with night time battles with your 3 year old. He is definitely in the age range where most kids drop their nap, as it typically happens between 3-4. My son is a little over a year older than yours, and we struggled with the bedtime thing too. It was so hard for me to want to give up the nap because I LOVED the time in the day to myself (I also have a 2 year old I timed the naps with). We eventually transitioned him to a rest time rather than a nap, and for a while it was a gradual transition where he’d nap sometimes, and not others. Then one day it totally stopped and he never napped again (besides when he’s been sick). During that transition I fluctuated bed time based on if he took a nap or not, and on the days he did I also made sure he didn’t sleep past 4.
I am not a sleep consultant, I work in our Client Relations dept, and so I can’t say for sure what the right thing to do is, but he is going to be ready to phase out soon, I personally don’t think it would hurt to try. He may need a nap some days, but not all, and can just have a rest/quiet time instead of napping so you can still take time to breathe yourself. If he suddenly is getting really cranky during the day that might be an indicator he’s not ready for it and his schedule may still need some tweaking. Let us know how it turns out and if you need anything else!
My son is 2yrs 9 months. He has started to say that he doesn’t want to sleep during the day and he is ok with a 20/30min rest period.
I have asked the childminders to stop his nap as well as it was taking at least an hour for him to fall asleep at bedtime when he is having naps (only 30 mins).
Would he be ok for this to be completely dropped or let him sleep with the childminder and just drop it at home with me?
Hi @Maddie – Thank you for writing to us! It is pretty common for toddlers to drop their nap with one caregiver and not the other, so if he seems to need that nap on childminder days, it is fine to keep offering them! But as you mention, if naps are making bedtime tougher, it may be time to drop them all together too! You can always offer the rest time, both at home and with the childminder, and he may not fall asleep but just having that rest time will be good for him!
Good luck and thanks again for writing!
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