How to Successfully Drop the Daytime Nap

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When your child naps during the day, it’s a welcome break from parenting, but it’s a fact that daytime naps mean less sleep at night.

It’s useful to know how much sleep a baby or toddler needs before you decide if it’s time to go cold turkey.

How Much Sleep is Needed 

According to the NHS website in the first 12 months of babies’ lives, they will require as many as 6 naps a day. Napping reduces to 2 naps a day, and then 1; and by the time they are aged 3 or 4, napping could be a thing of the past.

Adorable little girl in pink nightie sleeps in the bed on a white background.

But what if they are almost ready to go to school and still want to nap? To be honest, that is unlikely; but if it’s still happening at 5 years old, you may need to refer to your doctor or medical practitioner.

Tell-Tale Signs your Child is ready to Stop Napping 

The most obvious sign that the nap needs to stop is the length of time it takes to go to sleep at nap time. If the original nap time was 12.30 and the child is showing no sign of tiredness at 1.30 now it’s time to drop from 2 naps to 1.

Close-up portrait of a young girl yawning in bed at home

At the other end of the day, if your child isn’t ready to go to bed at 7 pm, or your designated bedtime, it may be that he or she has had too much sleep during the day.

How to Help your Child to Stop Napping 

As a parent or caregiver, you will know if a child is ready to drop the naps. Remember, all children are different: what worked for one child won’t necessarily work for another.

Nap transition is not easy, but you can make it less stressful by introducing a period of quiet time instead. Sit and read or watch some TV together, and if he or she isn’t ready to give up the nap, you will know.

How many times has a child fallen asleep on the school run? Napping at 4 pm can lead to a difficult bedtime. Parents fondly call this the witching hour, but like most things in parenting, the phase will pass.

A childminder I knew used to give ice-cream to her charges on the school run to keep them awake. A little ice cream or a small box of raisins never hurt anyone – if you’re lucky enough to be able to dodge the school run, then the time invested in encouraging mindfulness will pay dividends at bedtime.

Mindfulness for Children

Without sounding too new-age, keeping the child in the here and now, calm and comforted is as good as any daytime nap. Sitting and drawing or relaxing with a toy or favourite blanket may be all that’s needed.

Create a familiar space to relax, and remember when they do drop their nap altogether, bedtime will probably be earlier. And that’s a win-win all around.

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