A nap can do wonders for a cranky toddler. But there may come a day when the nap just won’t happen, no matter how hard you try. So, exactly when do toddlers stop napping? Let’s take a look.
While naps can be a treasured part of your day at any phase of life, they are particularly important for very young kiddos.
Increasingly, studies suggest that daytime napping can have a variety of positive effects, from improving cognitive function and emotional processing to boosting immune function.
But knowing whether your kid is getting the daytime zzz’s they need is not always that simple.
Is it OK for a 2-year-old not to nap? Is it OK if my 3-year-old doesn’t nap?
(Seriously. How are we just supposed to know these things?)
Toddler sleep needs can vary from child to child.
There are also many different mama schedules with lots of moving parts, like childcare, work routines, and social commitments.
That means a one-size-fits-all nap routine is hard to come by.
That being said, there are some common napping patterns that are useful to know so that you can structure a sleep schedule that works for both you and your little peanut.
In this article: 📝
- When do toddlers stop napping?
- When do toddlers stop napping twice a day?
- Does a 3-year-old need a nap?
When do toddlers stop napping?
One thing newborns love to do more than anything else is sleep.
They’re so good at it, in fact, that they usually get between 14 and 17 hours of shuteye a day. Impressive.
As they transition further into babyhood, they start to keep their eyes open for more of the day, transitioning to a nighttime sleep and about two daytime naps a day. (Again, remember—rough guide only.)
The National Sleep Foundations recommends toddlers get about 11 to 14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour span, and preschoolers about 10 to 13.
When do toddlers stop napping twice a day?
Somewhere between the 12 and 21-month mark, your baby will be like, Nah, don’t need this whole double nap thing anymore.
And they will probably start decreasing their naps to one a day.
And then, at some point in their late toddlerhood, they may show signs that this whole daytime napping enterprise is not for them.
So, at what age do toddlers stop napping? Well, it’s just not the same for everyone.
Does a 3-year-old need a nap?
The answer, however frustrating, is that some three-year-olds do need a daytime nap and others don’t.
Some kids want to ditch the nap as early as two years old, while others keep it going until they are five. There’s really no one way to do this.
One of the awesome things about three-year-olds is that they rarely keep their feelings a secret.
If they’re not into the whole daytime napping thing anymore, they usually have ways of communicating this.
Five signs that your toddler no longer needs a daytime nap are:
1. Naps and their bedtime routine are no longer friends
If bedtimes are getting tricky, it may be time to change up the sleep schedule. Naps can make bedtime a lot less appealing.
If they can go to sleep easily at night without having a nap in the day, that’s likely a sign that you can nix the nap.
If they go without a nap but then are too overtired to sleep well at night, it may be worth holding on to the napping routine a little longer.
Warning: there may be a little trial and error here.
2. They wake up earlier in the morning
If they are getting up way earlier than normal, this may also be a sign that they don’t need a nap anymore.
3. They’re not doing the daytime doze
If your child is nodding off during the day or acting sleepy, it may be too soon to get rid of the nap.
If, on the other hand, they’re wide awake throughout the day, it’s likely they may not need that nap after all.
4. The meltdowns are minimal
Many a meltdown (in children and adults alike) is because of a shortage of sleep.
If their mood is generally stable through the day, that’s a sign that the nap is not as necessary.
5. They are fussy at naptime
If they are not too keen to lie down, it might be a sign that they no longer want the nap as part of their daily routine.
If you’ve decided that it’s time to start to phase out the daytime nap, here are our top tips:
- Phase-out naps gradually. Don’t go cold turkey on this one. There will be an adjustment period before your new routine kicks into gear. Shortening nap times and/or alternating days can be useful. Over this time, you can adopt the philosophy of Nap on Demand—let them let you know when naps are needed. The transition phase can take a few weeks or a few months.
- See if you need to introduce an earlier bedtime. Without the daytime nap to keep them going, they might be ready for their evening slumber a little sooner.
- Replace nap times with rest times. In the time that they would be napping, give them some quiet time to enjoy. Books and calming music can be your best friend here.
- Know that sleep regression is a thing. Is your two-year-old suddenly rising early, not sleeping through the night, or showing strong opposition to bedtime? That doesn’t necessarily mean they are ready to drop their nap. It might just be the two-year-old sleep regression.
There is so much going on in their new world and so much that they are learning to do.
Turning off from all of that excitement can be difficult. Don’t worry, this too shall pass, and your two-year-old might go back to their nap in a few days or weeks.
If you’re at all worried about your child’s sleep schedule, chat with your healthcare provider.
And know that navigating all the demands of life and parenting can be challenging—particularly when you are not always operating on optimal sleep amounts yourself.
You’re not alone. Reach out to your Peanut community for support.
Wishing you all a restful sleep on a schedule that works for you.
😴 More on sleep from The 411:
How Much Do Newborns Sleep? A Rough Guide
Managing The 4-Month Sleep Regression: Your Expert Guide
Newborn Sleep Schedule: Rough Patterns and Timings
Babies Waking Up Too Early: What to do
Baby Sleep Temperature Guidelines to Follow
How Many Swaddles Do I Need?
Is White Noise for a Baby Good?
How to Dress Baby For Sleep
How to Get Your Baby to Sleep in a Crib
Baby Sleep Training 101