We’ve all experienced the irritability of a child who’s missed their naptime. It’s like they have a totally different personality. There’s screaming, stomping of feet, temper tantrums galore, and lots of tears – and that’s not including the rotten mood of the napless toddler. Gone are the sweet infant days when they at least couldn’t talk back when they were in a bad mood. No one wants to experience the product of an angry toddler who’s running low on sleep.
It’s evident to any parent that naps have a link to the health of toddlers. While they’re developing, they need more sleep to recharge, stay focused, and give their brains a much-needed rest. It’s an important element for their child development. Without a nap, they grow irritable, fatigued, and have difficulty concentrating. However, there may be more resistance to taking naps during the day as they grow. Further in their development, naps aren’t quite as crucial as they once were.
With some resistance to naps and reaching a preschool age, you may anxiously question whether or not it’s time to phase out naptimes in their everyday life. This article will help you learn when most kids stop napping, indicators they may be ready for the transition, and information on how to guide them out of a naptime routine.
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When Do Kids Stop Napping
What age your child stops napping is dependent on many factors like if they attend a preschool where a nap break isn’t included, their nighttime habits, and development. Generally speaking, there are no one-size-fits-all answers. However, according to an Oxford Academic Journal, a large percentage of children no longer need or take naps by the age of five.
So, around the ages of four or five is a typical time for toddlers to transition out of taking naps. While that’s most common, all children’s needs are unique, so the range of discontinuing naps could extend anywhere from four to seven years of age, depending on the child.
However, if your toddler still takes a nap past the age of seven, it might be a good idea to talk to your pediatrician and ensure no underlying condition or problem that might be causing excessive sleepiness.
Signs Your Toddler May Be Ready To Skip Naps
Since there’s a range of ages your toddler could be ready to ditch naps, it’s important to know signs that it might be time for the shift. Some of the most common to look out for include:
- Not tired or having the ability to fall asleep at naptime with no noticeable effect on attitude or energy. This could indicate they’re reaching an age where the amount of sleep they need is decreasing since they’re getting older.
- Naps can impact the circadian rhythm and children’s abilities to fall asleep at night, leading to less sleep overall. If your toddler is having difficulty sleeping at bedtime, it might be time to either decrease the duration of their daytime naps or that it’s time to cut them out entirely.
- Waking up earlier than usual can also signify it’s time to think about shortening nap length or letting them skip their daytime naps.
Those are indications that your toddler may be outgrowing their daytime naps. While it’s helpful to know what to look out for as they get older, it’s also important not to cut naps out too soon. They still need more sleep than the average person for healthy mental development. Signs children aren’t ready to go without naptime include growing irritable throughout the day when they don’t nap, noticeable tiredness, and inability to focus.
As a parent, you know your child best. When you start noticing mood changes or sleep pattern disruptions, trust your intuition and adjust your child’s sleep schedule accordingly. Children aren’t wired the same way, so you’ll be able to monitor any telltale sign or reason for needing a routine shift.
How To Drop Naptime
While it may be time to cut naptime, it’s helpful to have a transition plan instead of abruptly cutting that time out. Napping offers a mental respite for your toddler, and incorporating rules like quiet time can give their mind similar benefits to keep them happy and healthy. This can look like leaving them in their room during their regular naptime and giving them the option to play quietly with their toys, do some reading, or do a puzzle. This can also allow them to go to sleep if they’d like, which can ease any frustrations they may have about not being sent to bed like they’re used to. A structured quiet time for a set amount of time can help toddlers regroup for the rest of the day and boost their mental health.
With the transition out of napping during the day, your child will likely need more sleep at night. Doctors recommend that most preschool-aged children get 13 hours of sleep each night. So, you may have to bump up bedtime depending on when they have to wake up and potentially set up a new nighttime routine that encourages sleep. One suggestion on what a routine could be is bathing them, brushing their teeth, then tucking them into bed, helping prep them for bed. A regular nighttime rhythm gives children structure and communicates the message that it’s time to go to sleep.
I hope these tips are helpful as you navigate this new phase in parenting. As I said before, transitioning out of regular naptimes isn’t an exact science. You’ll know best as a parent what your family needs. If you suspect there are any sleep irregularities, notice unusual symptoms, or have more in-depth questions about this topic, it’s always a good idea to talk to your pediatrician and get official medical advice and support tailored to your child’s specific needs.