How to drop your toddler’s nap, and when are they ready?

How do you know when its time to drop your toddler’s nap, this question we get asked a lot! Often it turns pear shaped and you are left with an over tired toddler, crying over the wrong colour fork at dinner time, refusing to eat, crying their bath is too hot/cold, their PJ’s are not right and you chose the wrong story!

Let us help you through this messy transition as best we can.

Most toddlers need to drop their nap between 2.5-3 years, give or take a few months. This coincides often with toddlers starting pre-school/kinda/kindy, and not having the ability to have a nap.

Some interesting research last year confirmed that toddlers around this age do need to begin to cut back their naps and focus more on consolidated night sleep, as the study found toddlers still having 1-2 hour naps after this age showed night patterns of fragmented sleep with wakeful periods, and delayed onset of sleep (pushing out their bedtime) and subsequently needing their naps!

So when you think your toddler might be ready to drop their nap, here’s how!

  • If you cold turkey drop your toddlers nap, bring their bed time forward by 30-60 minutes for a week or two as they learn to cope with less day sleep. Once they are coping, you can gradually push their bed time a bit later. But many toddlers will happily go to sleep around 6.30pm when you drop their day nap.
  • You can reduce their nap over a couple of weeks, waking them up after 60 minutes, then 45 minutes, then 30 minutes. The problem with this method is some toddlers behavior when they are woken is so miserable, its almost not worth the nap at all! If this is your child try the other option below.
  • You can drop your toddlers nap to every other day, ie let them nap on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. This is a good way of reducing down their nap time without cold turkey dropping their nap, or having to cut it back to 30 minutes. It can also be done on days they are not at pre-school/kinda/kindy.
  • Try to establish a quiet time instead of a nap, get your toddler to look at books, play with some quiet toys in their bed for half an hour instead of sleeping. This will give them a down time, and time to re-charge without sleeping and possibly affecting their night sleep.

Try not to….

  • Go for a drive after 2/3pm on the first few days of dropping your toddlers nap, they WILL fall asleep and thus ruin your early bed time plan!
  • Hold out for a 7pm bed time when you drop the nap, knowing your toddler was already loosing the plot at dinner time. Early to bed is your friend.

Good luck dropping your toddlers nap, I think every parent feels bitter sweet about this stage. After all, we spend so long establishing good healthy nap routines, only to suddenly have to drop their naps! Your toddler is growing up, congratulations!

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