When do toddlers stop napping, the signs your toddler is ready to stop napping and what to do now when your toddler no longer takes a nap. Plus, get instant access to 40+ daily routines for great sleep every night.
When Do Toddlers Stop Napping
I have three children and all of them have taken different approaches to napping.
- Juliette would have happily taken naps until Kindergarten (but she’s a twin and her and Trenton have been glued to the same schedule since the day they were born.)
- Trenton flat out began refusing to nap at 3 1/2, although as his Mom, I could tell he could have done well with a quick cat nap. Unfortunately, this meant that as we moved to quiet time, his twin Juliette felt like she was missing out and gave up her nap too.
- Taylor, my youngest has just stopped napping at 4 1/2, but will still take one once a week.
Every child has a different napping schedule, and unfortunately theres no way of knowing how well your toddler will nap or won’t, and until what age.
You’ll notice little cues along the way to your toddler giving up their nap such as:
- Taking longer and longer to fall asleep at nap time
- Not falling asleep at all for a nap
- Staying up far past bedtime
- Will begin napping some days and not others
- Naps well at preschool, but not at home
Of course, I tried all the things.
Did it help one bit?
I needed nap times to recharge myself, or get in a quick cat nap myself to make it through the rest of the day. I remember mourning nap time when it finally disappeared.
I know the transition can be equally hard for parents, as it is for your toddler, but there’s some good news to look forward to.
The best part when your toddler stops napping?
When your toddler stops napping, you can shift bedtime back 45 – 60 minutes to make up for the long length of the day they’re up, awake and wearing themselves out.
That’s right, you can expect them to start running out of gas earlier in the evening and this is an opportunity to make the move to an earlier bedtime.
Ultimately, your child will completely switch to a period of quiet time in the afternoon where their nap once way.
Don’t dread this nap transition, there are simple ways to make the switch painless and still give your child a way to rest their body for a brief period of time before you’re zooming around again.
Age When Toddlers Stop Napping
- 20% of 2-year-olds have stopped all naps
- 43% of 3-year-olds no longer nap
- 74% of 4-year-olds don’t nap
- 85% of 5-year-olds have stopped naps all together
Signs Your Toddler is Ready to Stop Napping
Here are the big signs your toddler is ready to stop napping.
- Avoid Nap – this is when your toddler will spend their entire nap time avoiding sleeping and evading nap by playing with their toys, talking to themselves, giggling, making up games or attempting to get your attention. They will do almost anything to forgo going to sleep. This doesn’t have to happen at every nap, but several times a week is a sign the end to naps is near.
- Evade Bedtime – a child who is delaying bedtime (not nap time, this is night time sleep) because they are too wired, not tired or overly rested from nap, is giving you the signs it may be time to stop napping. Taylor began delaying her 7:30pm bedtime and when I’d go check on her at 9pm and she was still awake, this was a big indication to me it was time to stop napping. Be cautious though, because if your child is less than 2 1/2, this could be a sign of the 2 year sleep regression, not the end to naps.
Children who are at least 2 1/2, should be getting 11 – 12 hours of consolidated sleep each night and it’s better for them to get this at night, than with a nap.
This study found that daytime sleep did not have the same benefit when it came to curbing future obesity odds, so naps aren’t cutting it when compared to quality night time sleep.
What To Do Now When Nap Time for Toddlers Comes to An End
Don’t expect the transition of removing the nap to be a swift and easy one.
You’re likely to going to see the transition take up to 4 – 6 weeks for your toddler to adjust to the new routine. Consistency is the most important part to making your new routine stick and getting them the right amount of sleep every night.
Going back and forth between napping one day and not the next, is going to make it more difficult for your child’s body to regulate it’s internal clock.
Once you know it’s time to remove the nap, do it and don’t look back.
Where there once was a nap, start with 30 minutes of quiet time without noise making toys, screens or television. Introduce a quiet time bin with special toys and activities that haven’t been playing with in a long time or are new.
Pull this quiet bin out at quiet time only, don’t let them play with them every day, so they remain special and exciting to play with.
These are the wooden and educational toys we have given to our kids during quiet time and they began to look forward to afternoon quiet time:
- Wooden building blocks in a clear tub you can easily pull out and pack away after quiet time is over
- Shape & Color recognition wooden toy
- Dentist kit for preschoolers and little kids sparks the imagination and I love peeking around the corner and seeing Taylor playing dentist with her stuffed animals.
- Wooden manipulative board with rubber bands (this takes me back to my own childhood!)
- Wooden tetris and brain puzzle is great for traveling and on-the-go too!
Going to Bed Earlier Now That Your Toddler Doesn’t Nap
Your toddler is going to start wearing down earlier in the evening now without a recharging nap.
It’s smart to begin putting her down to sleep at night 45 – 60 minutes earlier to avoid meltdowns, or worse, a second wind to the night.
You’ll begin to notice the signs your toddler is running out of gas when they’re more susceptible to tears, whining kicks up a notch and sleep behavior starts showing. This is your opportunity to go through your bedtime routine, and put your toddler to sleep early.
There’s a growing body of research that indicates children who get to bed late are set up to fail, experts warn, and evidence demonstrates that less sleep impairs children’s ability to learn, retain information, and regulate their emotions.
Early bedtimes are actually a really good, healthy thing!
It may be that your toddler is going to sleep earlier than they did at 16 or 18 months, but without a restorative nap in the middle of the day, they need this continuous sleep at night.
More Nap and Sleep Resources:
- Mastering Sleep & Schedules (Instant Access to 40+ Daily Routines Through Elementary School)
- Daily Routine Cards for Kids
- What Time Should a 2 Year Old Go to Bed? Finding the Perfect Bedtime
- 2 Year Old Sleep Regression or More of the 18 Month Sleep Regression?
- Sleep Strategies for a Good Night’s Sleep & Daily Routines for Kids