Just before I hit my second trimester, son number one stopped his day sleeps. Had it not been for the fog of pregnancy and my (not unfounded fear) of the approaching chaos of two children, I may have seen the warning signs.
Don’t make the same mistake. According to midwife and child health nurse Jane Barry, there are three clear signs your kid is ready to stop daytime sleeps. Ignore them at your peril.
1. It’s Nap Time But Your Child Is Really Alert
If understanding my first son’s sleep cues was a degree, I’d have a distinction. So I should have realised when he stopped rubbing his eyes and demanding food around 11am every day, something was changing. But I was #pregnant and #tired.
Plus, after years of trying to get this non-sleeper to sleep in the day, we finally hit the sweet spot of a long afternoon nap. And with only one child that meant a good two hours to ourselves – gosh it was good. Sigh.
So when those cues ended, as Jane Barry told me, this was our first warning sign that his day sleep had to go: “If your toddler seems bright and alert when they would normally be having their daytime nap then follow their lead. It’s important to still be sensitive to sleep signs. On some days, they may still need some quiet time with books or on their bed when they’re dropping their second daytime sleep,” she said.
2. Bedtime Is Way WAY Later Than Normal
It’s a universally accepted truth that every parent loves bedtime. So even the slightest tweak to this time will rarely go unnoticed, especially if you’re like mummy Nina. When at two-and-a-half, daughter Maisie’s regular 7 pm bedtime became 10 pm.
But what if the adjustment is less pronounced like 7 pm lights out that are slowly becoming 8 pm? Maybe they slept later that day, you think. Oh, and they did have that extra biscuit at daycare … In this scenario, Jane Barry says give it at least a week before making your final decision.
Also, take note of the timing of your child’s last nap of the day: “Usually, when the second nap of the day stretches past 3 pm and your child is just nowhere near ready for sleep – it’s time to drop the nap,” Jane told Kidspot.
3. You’ve Accidentally “Missed” The Afternoon Nap … And There’s No Tantrum
Better yet your child has been SO well-behaved at the kids’ party or supermarket (yes, apparently this can happen) and before you know it’s 3 pm and you realise, “Harry didn’t sleep today.” The first time that happens you’ll spend the rest of the afternoon biting your nails, brace yourselves for the inevitable meltdown. But it never arrives.
Or, maybe like mum-of-three Jo, you put your darling child down for a nap as normal, and they’ve spent the whole time coming up with new *cough* ways to amuse themselves. Yep. Any kid who has enough energy to paint the walls of their cot with organic substances during nap time is well and truly ready to give them up for good, says Jane Barry.
Exceptions To The Rule …
As we know, every child is different so there are a few exceptions to this rule of three.
According to Jane Barry children who are transitioning out of day sleeping, often need to go to bed a bit earlier at night.
“This is also the case if you have a child who is waking really early in the morning – like 3:30 or 4am. This is a sign that they actually need at least one daytime sleep.”
Growth Spurts And Change To Routine
Any period of growth or change can throw out the “no nap” theory – so Jane advises being flexible and ready to adjust to fit the needs of your child.
All children can benefit from a quiet period in their day, says Jane. So even if your child is no longer taking a nap, don’t overlook the benefits of them spending an hour resting in their rooms reading a book or playing quietly.
This article has been republished with permission from Kidspot.