It is definitely a moment that I dreaded for my first child, my second I was way more prepared ! The moment when it comes time to drop your child’s nap. Typically dropping the nap happens somewhere between 3 – 4 years (but can happen as early as 2.5 years). It is a big change, but with the right tactics, you can implement quiet time in place of it, so you still get the time to yourself.
How do I know it is the right time to drop the nap?
So typically, your child will still go down for their afternoon nap, but you will start to see an increase of issues with bedtime.
- Trouble falling asleep
- Frequent wakeups overnight
These all happen because now your child is getting too much daytime sleep, and so they do not have enough sleep pressure to fall asleep and stay asleep during the night. So if you are finding that it is taking a long time for your kiddo to fall asleep, it is probably getting close to time to make the switch.
Now, before you go and make that switch, you need to make sure that they are really ready! Often a developmental milestone can be the reason for a nap disruption, so it is best to watch carefully and make sure that the problem exists for at least 5 X a week, for two weeks consistently.
Do I have to drop the nap?
Nope, it is your choice. But I would take your family’s schedule into consideration. If you have to be out the door at 7 am everyday, then it is best to drop the nap, as their bedtime should be close to 7 and that will prove to be very difficult to accomplish if they are getting an afternoon nap. If you have more flexibility in the morning, then you could hold onto the nap for a bit, and offer a bedtime of 8:00 – 8:30 pm, with a wakeup at about 8:00 to 8:30 am.
Surviving after the nap is gone and my secret trick!
I know that pit in your stomach you feel! “But what do I do now? I’ll never get any day time hours to myself again! ” Fear not Mama! Now, you implement “Quiet Time”.
- Be prepared that this can take 4-6 weeks to implement.
- Have patience.
- Put them in their room with books, coloring, playdough, quiet toys. Items that will keep them engaged. (Secret trick: Have toys and/or activities that they are only allowed to play with during “quiet time”. This makes it more interesting and engaging.)
- Set a timer and start with 20 minutes. If they come out, walk them calmly back to their room. Increase the time daily by approximately 10-20 min. each day if they are doing well. Keep adding time until you reach the time that you would like them to spend.
- Set up a “quiet time” corner in their room, with pillows or blankets, a small table and chair. Make it special.
The implementation is so good for your child, as it aids in their ability to be independent and entertain themselves, while also giving you that much needed break time still. Be prepared for some meltdowns around 5:00 pm with the “no nap transition”, but know that these will fade as their body adjusts to their new schedule. You should start to see better nights soon!
Need more support with your child’s sleep? Check out my Private Sleep Coaching Packages or book a complimentary call with me today for more support and guidance. Better sleep is just around the corner!