Napping helps toddlers restore their energy levels to stay active and play during the day. Whether a toddler needs a nap or not, depends on their requirement. They need 12 to 14 hours of sleep in 24 hours (1). It is attained by uninterrupted sleeping during the night and a few hours of daytime napping.
As the baby grows, the need for napping decreases and they complete their required amount of sleep during bedtime at night (2). Understanding your child’s needs for napping is essential to keep them energetic and happy throughout the day. If you are a new parent and want to know more about toddler’s napping, keep reading this post to understand when toddlers stop napping and the signs that signal they need some more time to sleep.
When Do Toddlers Stop Napping?
Some toddlers may stop napping when they are around two years old, while some may continue taking naps past five years. It depends on their body’s requirements for rest and refreshment (3).
Napping time in toddlers is a part of healthy growth and a milestone in development. The transition from napping to no napping is gradual and occurs through the following stages.
- Non-stop napping at infancy
- Five to six naps a day when they are 12 months old
- Two to three naps a day when they are 18 months old
- One nap a day when they grow from three to five years old
- No daily daytime naps or once in a few days or weeks after the age of five.
When Can Napping Be Stopped For Toddlers?
Here are a few signs that show toddlers do not need daytime napping.
- Takes too long to fall asleep at night: If your toddler regains the energy from the daytime napping, it becomes difficult to fall asleep at bedtime. They are not tired and do not demand sleep since their need is fulfilled by daytime napping. This sign shows they do not need to nap during the day.
- Looks active at usual napping time: During the regular napping times, if your little one plays and shows their unwillingness to nap, it means they can skip this scheduled nap. A happy mood and no drop in energy levels show they had adequate sleep.
- Doesn’t act fussy on skipping naps: If your toddler is happy and not cranky or fussy on skipping naps, you can put a stop to their usual naps.
- Sleeps early before bedtime: If you find your baby sleepy a little earlier than their regular bedtime and they wake up a little late than usual, it’s a sign that their sleep requirements are being met by nighttime sleep alone.
- Stays awake during car rides: Toddlers often fall asleep during car rides. If your toddler is awake and active during the car rides, you need not force them to sleep during the day, even during their usual napping time.
- Feels irritated when forced to nap: If your toddler is ready to skip naps, their energy levels don’t seem to drop. But when you force them to take a nap, they may feel irritated. This resistance for napping indicates that they don’t require napping time anymore.
After the age of five, the toddler should be able to get most of their sleep at night. If the child needs nap times after the age of five, it may indicate poor quality sleep at night. In such cases, you need to find the reason behind interrupted sleep and help them sleep better at night. You may consult a pediatrician or sleep therapist to rule out any sleep disorder or unnoticed medical condition, causing fatigue (4).
Signs The Toddler Needs Napping Time
Sometimes, you may think of stopping your little one’s daytime naps, but it may be too soon for them. If you decide on ending napping, but the toddler’s body needs it, it may affect their development. Here are a few signs that show your baby is not yet ready to end napping.
- They yawn, rub eyes, suck thumbs, or cuddle with their loved ones when they feel sleepy.
- Car rides become napping times.
- They become inactive when they skip naps.
- Their energy levels crash by evening.
- They wake up cranky in the morning.
- They behave fussy, irritated, hyperactive, or unhappy throughout the day if napping is disturbed (5) (6).
- They fall asleep in the daycare or class.
- They may be reluctant to learn new things due to tiredness (7).
- They show signs of getting tired during the day.
- They fall asleep quickly during nap times.
How To Drop A Nap?
If your toddler skips a nap and does not appear sleepy, fussy, and exhausted, it is time to put a stop to their napping sessions.
- Reduce napping time: If your toddler is used to napping for two hours, reduce that time to one hour. After a few weeks, you can reduce it to half an hour. Such gradual cuts will help make it easier to break the habit of napping.
- Provide quiet rest time: Let your little one spend some quiet time. It will provide much-needed relaxation to regain their energy and stay active during daytime activities. Some toddlers may nap on some days, and that is acceptable. Maintain a calm and cozy environment, and try to engage your baby in activities that do not require running around (4).
- Playing with toys
Quiet routine time is beneficial as the daycare and schools provide rest periods, and this habit will keep your child calm during those periods.
- Reschedule bedtimes: Adjust the bedtime timings to an hour earlier than usual and allow the child to wake up late in the morning to ensure their sleep is completed. Toddlers need to complete their total amount of recommended sleep during the night time if they are not taking naps.
- Allow napping on some days: Sometimes, your toddler may fall asleep in the middle of the day. Allow the toddler to nap once a few days if they wish to, do not try to keep them awake forcefully. Remember, it takes time to break or build any habit.
- Give healthy meals: Feed fresh fruits and vegetables to your little one, keeping their daytime meals light. It will keep the toddlers energetic throughout the day. Heavy meals might make them feel lethargic and sleepy.
- Avoid stimulating drinks, food, and activities before sleeping time: Whether before a scheduled nap time or sleep time at night, avoid giving stimulating food or drinks such as sugary drinks, chocolates or candies, as well as stimulating activities that might make it difficult for your little one to fall asleep.
Napping time is rest time for your baby. The transition towards stopping naps could be difficult to adjust initially, but fewer naps indicate that the toddlers are growing. They gradually learn to use the daytime for playing while keeping their sleep limited to the nighttime.
2. Sleep in Toddlers & Preschoolers; Cleveland Clinic
3. Safe Sleep for Preschool Age Children; Virtual Lab School
4. When Your Toddler Will Stop Napping- Find These 10 Signs; Sleep Advisor
5. C. Mednick; Napping helps preschoolers learn; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2013)
6. Sleep – children and naps; Better Health Channel; Victoria State Government
7. Naps Can Help Preschool Children Learn; National Institute Of Health