While some toddlers may stop napping from day one, others may transition slowly- skipping daytime naps twice or thrice a week.
Wondering when will your toddler stop napping? Like everything good, your baby’s precious naps will also come to an end. As soon as he turns 2, you’ll notice that he suddenly needs much less rest, and frequently gives up on his morning snoozes.
By this age, he may only take afternoon naps seriously and whiz past the day thoroughly energised.
Some toddlers stop napping altogether as soon as they turn 3, while others may continue to nap once or twice a day until they are 5 or 6.
Toddler napping: All you need to know
Although some mums want their toddlers to continue napping so they can take a break during the afternoon, others want their toddlers to stop napping altogether. That way they can go to sleep earlier, and sleep through the night.
But there are several benefits of napping for toddlers.
Naps provide much-needed time for your toddler’s growth and rejuvenation. Apart from this, napping helps kids become more aware. It also helps them to feel less anxious.
What are the benefits of napping for toddlers?
- Naps aid emotional development. Toddlers who do not rest during the day and are unable to complete their sleep cycle tend to develop stress and anxiety. This also decreases their cognitive abilities (problem-solving skills).
A number of studies have proved that “insufficient sleep in the form of missing a nap taxes the way toddlers express different feelings.”
- Naps prepare kids for preschool learning. A study by the National Institute of Health tested the relationship between naps and memory.
Researchers found that preschoolers who napped had better recall and learning abilities.
- Naps during the day lead to easy sleep at night. As adults we do not need more than 8 or 9 hours of sleep, so sleeping during the day makes it tough for us to sleep at night.
But toddlers are different. They need more than 14 hours of sleep. Daytime napping helps them complete this cycle. If they are unable to sleep enough, they become irritable, overanxious and go to bed late at night.
- Naps give your toddlers downtime. Just as we need time to unwind and relax past office hours, our toddlers and preschoolers also need downtime during the day.
It gives them time to work on their imagination, relaxes their body, and keeps them happy.
- Naps curb toddler tantrums. A well-rested toddler will be happier, and more energised. He will also not throw too many tantrums.
Rejuvenated toddlers are less likely to be found crying and rolling on the floor of the supermarket. Chances are, if your toddler missed out on the daytime nap, he will become irritable.
What are the cons of napping for toddlers?
- Night time sleep is deferred. If you toddler sleeps longer than he ideally should, this will push his nighttime sleep back.
He may want to continue to play for a longer time and hit the bed really late. As the cycle progresses each day, his nighttime sleep will keep getting deferred.
- Excessive naps slow down your toddler. If your toddler is asleep too much during the day, he may feel lazy and lethargic.
Too much sleep can also increase the chances of obesity in young children. That’s why they are always encouraged to participate in physical activities.
- Too many naps may indicate a health problem. If you notice your toddler napping all day long and wanting to head back into the bed even after waking up, then there might be an underlying health issue.
You must consult with your doctor immediately if you notice your kid in the bed all the time.
What should mums do if they want to encourage napping?
If your toddler is not sleeping for even 11 or 12 hours during the night, then you must encourage him to complete his sleep during the day.
At this age, kids are so excited to discover everything around them. Because of this, they don’t want to miss out on anything, and sleep becomes a hurdle. This may lead them to exhaustion.
Here’s how you can get your toddler to nap during daytime:
- Place recognition. If your toddler is with you all day at home, put him down for a daytime nap in the same spot he sleeps at night.
Since he already associates this place with nap time, it will be easy for him to sleep in the same spot during the day as well.
- Continuity during weekends. In case your toddler goes to a preschool and prefers to nap with a toy there, you should continue the same sleep cycle.
Proceed with nap time at the same hour and with the same toy, so it is easy for him to doze off.
- Share the importance of sleep. If your child is younger than 4 and refuses to sleep during the day, reason with him and make him understand the importance of sleep.
You can also share that after sleeping he will become more energised for playtime.
- Make the routine similar to nighttime. You can try to replicate the nighttime routine to help your toddler nap during daytime.
For instance, read him a bedtime story, dim the nights, and quietly leave the room so he dozes off on his own.
- Steer the routine to bed. Try to steer the daytime routine to nap time. If you have read him a story and want him to complete his sleep, don’t let him play around or waste time. Take him to bed and encourage him to sleep.
If none of these tricks work with your toddler, chances are he has grown out of daytime snoozes all together. As a rule, daytime napping should be a pleasant time to relax and shouldn’t turn into a massive struggle.
It’s best to let time take its course. Know when to stop forcing naps on your kid.
How do I know my toddler will stop napping now?
If your child is not cooperating with nap time, then he may be ready to stay awake all day. Look out for the following signs:
- Your toddler takes a long time to sleep. This is a classic sign that your toddler is ready to stop napping during the day. As he grows older, his daytime napping needs will automatically diminish.
Plus, his desire to explore will keep him active and energised all day long. So if just a few days ago, he was napping at 12.30 pm, and now he refuses to go to sleep at the same time, do not force it.
- Your toddler takes longer to sleep at night. Your toddler’s desire to skip naps during the day will automatically result to a late bedtime routine. So if, for instance, you want him to nap at 1.30 pm, but he drifts off at 3 pm, then he will naturally get up late.
This will automatically push his bedtime sleep to a later hour. So if he is resisting daytime naps, do not force it because it may affect his nighttime sleep.
- Your toddler is not showing any signs of fatigue. If your toddler has been skipping daytime naps and still doesn’t show any signs of fatigue or is not cranky during the day, don’t worry. This is a good sign that he is ready to transition away from his daytime napping schedule.
Your child may also outgrow his naps if he is getting older. The differences in nap times are mostly because of varying sleeping needs based on the age of the kid.
How many hours of sleep does my toddler need?
Typically, toddlers need a minimum of 11 to 14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour cycle. Here’s an ideal sleep cycle for kids aged between 2 and 8.
- Toddlers aged 2 and 3 years: Need a total of 11-14 hours of sleep including 1-3 hours of daytime sleep
- Kids aged 4 and 5 years: Need a total of 10-13 hours of sleep including 0-2.5 hours of daytime sleep
- Kids aged 6-8 years: Need a total of 9-11 hours of sleep and no daytime sleep
A majority of kids stop napping completely after the age of 5. In addition, the hours your child may want to sleep during the day also depends upon the hours of his nighttime sleep (although some kids prefer to sleep during the day even if they have had sufficient hours of sleep in the night).
However, don’t be alarmed if your toddler goes back to napping during the day after completely stopping it. It may happen if he starts going to school and his daytime activities suddenly increase.
Prepare yourself for both scenarios, but know that there will be a time when your toddler will completely stop napping. This transition may be quick in some toddlers, while it may take longer with others. So it’s important to let time take its course.
How should you prepare yourself when your toddler stops napping?
To begin with, you must bear in mind that every toddler is different and his transition period will also be different from other children. Some may stop napping from day one while others may transition gradually – skipping daytime naps twice or thrice a week.
Again, it is crucial that you respect your toddler’s desire to sleep and not force daytime naps on him. Just remember that if he doesn’t want to nap during the day, you may want to take him to bed early in the night so he gets adequate rest.