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 daughter is a little over three. For the last two months if she naps longer than 1/2 an hour we have trouble getting her to sleep by 10:00. And then there’s night waking because of it. If she naps in the car for 10-30 min it’s the perfect scenario because then she’ll still maintain an 8:00pm-7:00am day. She generally falls asleep just fine for her nap around 5.5 hours after waking up in the morning. When she doesn’t nap, she mostly has an overtired night waking though there have been magical nights that she’s slept a solid 12 hours. I’m thinking we drop the nap, but am hesitant because she’s always so tired after lunch. Thanks so much
Hi @Cheryl –
Thank you for writing to us! It sounds like you may have found a good solution to your daughter’s naps, in the 30 minute naps! If those are working best for you, she sleeps better at night and falls asleep readily, then keeping the naps in her schedule, but waking her before the nap gets too long may be the right fit for you for now! Thanks for reading and we hope that things go well!
My daughter is 3.6 yrs old. On weekdays she does take nap for 1.5 hrs to 2 hrs. I am a working mom. On weekends she doesnt want to nap as she thinks she gets more time to play with me. But on the days when she takes afternoon nap, she doesnt get out of bed after nap for long time. close to an hour. Have to keep bribing her motivating her to wake up but a failure. Any suggestions here would definitely help
Thank you so much for checking out The Baby Sleep Site! I’m sorry to hear you’re having such trouble with napping. It’s hard to know what exactly is going on with your daughter’s naps without more information. It could be a sleep association, scheduling issue, or something else. If you haven’t yet, you might like to sign up for our free toddler ebook: https://www.babysleepsite.com/toddler-sleep-training-secrets-free-ebook/
Or, if you’re a BSS Member, please do check out one of weekly chats with a senior sleep consultant – she could definitely help you out! Good luck!
My daughter will be 3 in a few weeks. She has been pretty consistently refusing her afternoon nap but is a complete mess in the evening. She seems to really need a nap but is wide awake during nap time and doesn’t get tired until dinner. Her bedtime is usually 7:30-8 and she usually wakes around 6:30-7. Any advice?
Hi @Kate –
Thanks for writing to us! Sorry to hear about your nap struggles with your toddler! If she seems to really still need that nap, then do still offer it! On days where she does not fall asleep, you can always offer an early bedtime! I’d recommend a really solid and calming nap routine, and to be sure that she’s on a good overall schedule too. Here’s a link to our free sample schedules for toddlers:
Good luck and please contact us if you need more help at any time!
My son will be 3 in just a couple weeks. He loves his afternoon nap, and usually sleeps for 2.5 hours from 1pm-3:30pm. He also loves bed time and never complains about going to sleep – we are very consistent, and he is usually in bed by 7-7:30. However, he recently has started waking up early – very early! We’re talking between 4am and 5am – and he is ready to play. Any suggestions? He isn’t really showing signs of not wanting that nap, but I don’t know what else to do. Shifting his bedtime later has not helped his waking time…
Hi @Tara – Thank you for writing to us about your (almost) 3 year old’s sleep! So sorry to hear that he’s waking SO early! We know how tough this can be and early wakings can be tricky to figure out! If he is not showing other signs of being ready to drop his nap, you can likely keep that nap and keep trying to get him back to sleep when he wakes so very early!
Based on what you’ve shared, I’d like to recommend our VIP Members Area, which gives you access to all of our e-Books as well as audio tele-seminar recordings, case studies, and do-it-yourself tutorials, including a workbook designed to help you create your own sleep plan. My favorite feature is the access to our weekly “members only” expert chat sessions, where one of our sleep consultants will answer your specific questions live via chatroom! I think that this would be especially helpful, so that you can share more about your son and one of our sleep consultants can advise!! You can also write a message on any of the pages within the VIP Area, and a Sleep Consultant will reply there too!
You can read more about our VIP Members Area here:
Thanks again for writing to us Tara! Please let us know if you have any questions about this or if you need any assistance at any time!
My son will be 2 next week. MOST days he sleeps around 7pm and wakes up around 6am, sometimes 5. He no longer has an afternoon nap as I found that it would lead to a late bedtime, which doesn’t fit in with our routine as a family. Now he has a morning nap from 10 till 11.30/12. However, for the past few days he has been resisting sleep at bedtime and going to sleep around 8.30/9pm, with no changes to his nap!
Also, since forever, we have been walking around carrying him to sleep, and now we try to lay him down and pat him but he just can’t sleep like that. Please help, what am I doing wrong?
Hi @Fawziyyah – Thanks for writing, and so sorry that your struggling with your toddler’s sleep! many 2 year olds struggle with sleep, and you’re not alone! You’re not doing anything wrong either Fawziyyah! You’re doing your best, and that’s all you can do! Working on putting down to fall asleep on his own can take time and lots of consistency and effort, so don’t give up! Regarding his naps and bedtime, I’d recommend checking out our free samepl schedules for toddlers for use as a guide:
Good luck and we hope this is helpful!
Please keep in mind that most kindergarten classes are expected to nap in the afternoon for a mimimum of 40 minutes after lunch.
Thanks for the tip @Caroline! Many kindergarten classes no longer offer nap or rest time, while many others do!
My girl will be 3 in 2 months and she is refusing nap time. It will take her 1.5 hours to fall asleep and the same happens at bed time. I always wake her up by 3pm no matter what time she falls asleep and her bedtime is around 8-8:30pm but most of the time she doesn’t fall asleep until 9:30, sometimes 10. Should I drop her nap?
Hi Allison! Thanks for writing to us about your toddler! She is showing signs that she’s ready to drop that nap, and you can always try it out and see how it goes! For more specific help with this, I’d like to recommend our VIP Members Area, which gives you access to all of our e-Books as well as audio tele-seminar recordings, case studies, and do-it-yourself tutorials, and much more! My favorite feature is the access to our weekly “members only” expert chat sessions, where one of our sleep consultants will answer your specific questions live via chatroom! You can also write a message on any of the pages within the VIP Area, and a Sleep Consultant will reply!
You can read more about our Members Area here:
Good luck Allison!
Hi Allison! I’m in the same boat! Any info on what you ended up doing and how it went??
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