When Do Toddlers Stop Napping?

Toddler boy napping in a sleeping bag with emergency vehicles motif

Toddlers are curious, high-spirited, and, of course, active. So, as much as you like spending every minute with them and seeing the world through their eyes, you may equally appreciate the rest time they provide during their sleep (a.k.a. recharge) time.

Naptime is a chance for both you and your child to rest. As a result, if your child begins to wean themselves off naps, you may be hesitant to make the transition. However, it is a significant achievement that should be recognized. Fewer afternoon naps indicate that your child is growing into a big youngster. Furthermore, they are more likely to sleep through the night and are less likely to wake you up at 4 a.m., allowing you to get more sleep (in theory).

But, how can you know when your child is ready to wake up? And what can you do to make the nap transition easier? Here’s what to anticipate if your youngster quits napping.

toddler girl in red and white striped pajamas sitting in bed

When Do Toddlers Stop Napping?

There are no hard and fast rules on when a kid should wake up from a nap. Every child is unique. As a result, your kid may quit napping earlier than a friend’s child or siblings. It truly depends on the child, their activity level, the amount of sleep they receive at night, and how busy they are throughout the day.

However, most children will not stop napping until they are well into their preschool years. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), only about half of children still nap by the age of four, and only about one-third still day sleep by five. Toddlers, on average, need 12 hours of sleep every day. One distinction between napping and non-napping toddlers is that the latter group sleeps most of the time at night.

Even though most children discontinue napping between the ages of 3 and 5, your kid might stop sleeping as early as 2 or as old as 6. There is no one “typical” age where your kid should stop napping. The sleep transition may or may not be linear as well. Some days, your toddler may need a nap, while others may not. The duration of the afternoon sleep also decreases with age. Hence, as your preschooler becomes older, the nap will no longer need to be two or three hours long for your kid to feel refreshed.

Signs Your Toddler Is Ready to Stop Napping

Because the age at which children quit napping varies, it is important for parents to pay attention to their child‘s sleep needs. In general, children should quit napping when they no longer need sleep to feel energetic for the whole day.

Many youngsters will naturally quit napping. There are various indicators that a youngster is ready to stop napping:

Difficulty Falling Asleep at Night

Sleep issues are frequent in children, particularly when they are young. Insomnia, night terrors, sleepwalking, and bedwetting may interfere with your child‘s normal nap routine. Some children may not be sleepy at their scheduled bedtime, while others may have difficulty going to sleep without the presence of a parent. Some children may regularly wake up in the middle of the night, completely awake, and either toss and shift or come and wake up their parents.

Insomnia is defined as the inability to fall or remain asleep at night, which results in non-restorative sleep. Frequently, the problem resolves itself over time. However, if your kid has difficulties sleeping more than three times per week for many months and it severely hampers their daily functioning, this might indicate insomnia or another sleep issue.

Many children face problems falling or staying asleep caused by their daily behaviors or how they spend their time shortly before bed. Consuming too much sweet food throughout the day, for example, or watching TV immediately before bedtime, may affect your child‘s sleep. Of course, younger children, in particular, will have difficulties connecting their behaviors to the quality of their sleep, so you’ll need to serve as a sleep detective on their behalf.

Waking Up Early

If your older child normally wakes up between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m. but suddenly begins to cry for you around 5 or 5:30 a.m. (or sooner), she is waking up too early. Kids aged 1 to 3 years old should obtain 11 to 14 hours of sleep every day, including naps and bedtime. If you get up too early, you may fall short of the required amount of sleep.

A youngster who wakes up too early may be going to bed too early and receiving more sleep than she needs. It’s also likely that early-bird toddlers go to bed too late, get too little sleep, and end up overtired or sleep-deprived. Your child‘s tuck-in time and nap schedule may also be out of whack, resulting in a toddler waking up too early in the morning.

The reasons for your toddler to wake up early may include teething, allergies or stuffy nose, gastritis, wet diaper, and the possibility that your baby has slept too long in the daytime.

mother hugging child in bed early in morning

Child‘s Attitude Changes Due to Lack of Sleep

Inadequate sleep biases everyone, especially youngsters, to perceive the world from a more negative perspective and less in a positive way. Additionally, insufficient sleep leads youngsters (possibly more than adults) to have difficulty managing the ups and downs of their emotions, resulting in wider and more rapid responses to very trivial situations. Children who do not get enough sleep do not pay attention as well, are less likely to think before acting, and do not seem to be as capable of problem-solving. In fact, not getting enough sleep has a negative impact on every area of a child‘s well-being and performance.

There are certain symptoms that parents may look for to see whether their kid has a sleep disorder. For example, there might be an issue if a youngster has trouble falling or staying asleep. Other symptoms include snoring or other breathing issues when sleeping, difficulty getting up in the morning, tiredness throughout the day, difficulty paying attention, being excessively grumpy or grouchy, or behaving without thinking.

To avoid sleep disorders in children, parents should develop good sleeping habits in their children. Setting a bedtime, following a regular evening ritual, and encouraging children to fall asleep on their own are all examples of good bedtime practices. Furthermore, keeping all technology out of the bedroom will assist youngsters in getting a good night‘s sleep.

Nap Transitioning

Dropping naps is a lengthy process that begins with your child transitioning from two to one sleep and then, sometimes years later, gradually lowering the duration of their one nap. Children who no longer need a nap fall asleep quicker and sleep longer at night, making the bedtime ritual a bit simpler for you. However, although some children gradually wean themselves off naps, you may give your child a little shove.

While you shouldn’t completely eliminate naps unless you want an irritable, angry youngster on your hands, you may shorten your child‘s naps and wake them up earlier. You may also try removing one nap each week to acclimate their bodies to less daytime sleep. Your youngster will gradually adjust to sleeping less. However, bear in mind that less sleep during the day may mean more sleep later at night. If permitted, they will most likely fall asleep sooner or sleep later in the morning. So be prepared to change your nighttime or morning routine.

You may also assist your kid in stopping napping by avoiding activities that may trigger tiredness in the afternoon — at least until they break the habit. Long drives and periods of idleness are examples of this. Keeping your child active might help to keep them busy and awake. Be aware that large meals may cause your youngster to get drowsy and sleepy. So go for lighter meals that are high in veggies and fresh fruit.

Toddler girl eating healthy vegetables

Quiet Time for Toddlers

Not to be confused with nap time, which most children stop experiencing between the ages of 2 and 5 years, quiet time is exactly what the name implies — a time to be quiet and rest.

Children often struggle with self-regulation, and it is normal for them to continue to play and be active even when they might benefit from some rest or relaxation. Making time throughout the day for quiet time ensures that children have time to relax and recharge, which has numerous advantages for their health, behavior, and development. The benefits of quiet time aren’t limited to young children; children of all ages may reap the benefits, and parents and caregivers can take a break to be productive or just enjoy some quiet time on their own. This is particularly helpful if you already work from home.

Promotes Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a useful technique for children that encourages them to be present in the moment and feel more prepared to deal with whatever life throws at them.

Improves Learning

Many childhood development specialists believe that a youngster under the age of five can generally only concentrate for around 15 minutes. So rather than pushing through, taking frequent short breaks and scheduling some quiet time to regain calm and clarity will guarantee that youngsters are more ready to benefit from their learning experiences.


Sensory overload is a common occurrence in toddlerhood. Your toddler absorbs everything she sees, hears, tastes smells, and touches at this age, and her brain works overtime to make sense of it all. As a result, sensory meltdowns that resemble tantrums are normal at this age, particularly when toddlers do not have time to go away, calm, and recharge before they occur.

toddler looking at a book

Setting a Bedtime Routine

A bedtime routine involves everything you do with your infant or kid just before putting them to bed, such as having a bath, changing the final diaper, putting on clothes, and reading a goodnight tale. A healthy bedtime routine should allow your kid to go asleep on their own, without being rocked, watching TV, or having you lie down next to them. Then, if they do wake up later, they should be able to go back asleep without any assistance.

Suppose your kid identifies falling asleep with being rocked, for example. In that case, if they wake up in the middle of the night, they will most likely be unable to fall asleep again until you rock them.

Dim the Lights

You’ve probably heard that bright lighting before bedtime might interfere with the body’s urge to sleep. That is correct. According to a 2014 research, exposure to artificial light at night reduces the body’s melatonin levels and, as a result, tiredness. It may also shorten your body’s perception of how long a night lasts, leading to further sleep problems.

Anything that generates blue light, such as computer displays, tablets, mobile phones, and TVs, may have an even greater impact than typical artificial light. You might also try using a night light or an amber light bulb to illuminate the space.

Dim the lights in your child‘s room at the very least throughout the evening routine to assist them in feeling sleepy.

mothers kissing toddler on forehead at bedtime

Make Sure the Bedroom is Comfortable

Most children sleep best in a somewhat chilly environment (around 65 degrees). When there is outside noise, employing white noise from a fan or sound generator may assist in disguising it. Make sure your child‘s bed isn’t cluttered with toys since this might be distracting during the night.

Wind Down

Create a routine around your bedtime once you’ve established it. You should begin assisting your youngster in relaxing around 30 minutes before lights out. Dim the lights, play calming music, and offer your kid a warm bath during this relaxing time. It is also crucial to turn off screens in the hours before going to bed. Screens used two hours before bedtime may diminish the body’s melatonin (sleep hormone) levels.

Read a favorite book, tell a tale, or sing a song after changing into PJs and cleaning your teeth. Then it’s lights out, kisses, and goodnight.

Remind Kids to Use the Bathroom

This is particularly critical for younger children who still have bedwetting concerns.

What to Do When Your Toddler Refuses to Nap?

Have Active Mornings

Keeping your child busy and active in the mornings might assist in guaranteeing that they need an afternoon nap. If your child refuses to sleep in the middle of the day, the solution may be to ensure that they get their energy out earlier in the day. Try enrolling them in a sport, such as a toddler tumbling or soccer. The increased physical activity may encourage them to continue napping.

Two toddlers being silly with multi-colored blocks

Try Quiet Time

Older toddlers are growing more self-aware and seek to assert themselves whenever feasible. So, making a stand on nap time might just be your child‘s method of asserting their independence-whether or not they are genuinely ready to give up the “baby” sleep.

Make an effort to meet your child halfway. Instead of requiring nap time, consider referring to it as “quiet time” or marking it as a special time when your child may rest alone in the room. While quiet time may not be appealing to an active toddler, not labeling it “sleep time” may help you avoid tantrums.

Don’t Change Toddler Bed Routines Too Often

This would irritate him while he is sleeping. Place anything associated with him alongside him, such as a teddy bear or a book, which he is likely to remain with him while sleeping.

When to See a Doctor

Although children stop sleeping at various ages, you may be concerned about an older kid who still needs a nap or a small child who is avoiding napping but plainly requires a midday slumber.

When it comes to older children who are still napping, you generally don’t need to worry, but it never hurts to check with your doctor for peace of mind.

A variety of factors may explain why an older kid continues to nap. It might be as easy as sleeping too late and getting up too early. Lack of sleep may be due to poor diet, inactivity, sleep disorder, or medical conditions.

In any case, your doctor will collaborate with you and your kid to identify solutions. If your kid is resistant to naps but still needs sleep, your doctor may be able to provide recommendations for what you can do to help them get enough shut-eye. You might also explore working with a sleep consultant; however, their services are sometimes prohibitively costly for many parents.

Final Thoughts

Of course, nighttime sleep is essential, but daytime toddler naps may be just as beneficial. They are critical in ensuring that children receive the necessary amount of sleep each day. They also improve children’s physical health and emotions. Naps provide time for children’s bodies and brains to relax and recharge as they grow and develop. Furthermore, when children are overtired, it is more difficult for them to go asleep quickly at night.

A good night‘s sleep is vital for enhancing your child‘s naps. If your kid has trouble falling asleep in the evenings or wakes up often throughout the night, your first concern should be training them to fall asleep at bedtime. After a few weeks of going asleep at night, your kid may begin to take longer naps. If they continue to struggle, use the sleep-training method you employed at night. For others, this means allowing them to cry for 30 minutes before waking them up and preparing them for the next nap or bedtime. This permits their sleep drive to assist them in falling asleep more quickly the next time they get the chance.

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