Do you think your toddler is ready to drop their last nap? If so, here are some tips and tricks to help you and your little one during this transition.
Dropping the last nap of the day can be quite a dawning process for parents. You’ve got used to the routine of your little one having a sleep in the middle of the day and they’ve been most likely doing this for around a year or so by the time they come to drop their nap - maybe even longer!
A common age for toddlers to drop their nap is around 3, however, some children with higher sleep needs may hold on to their daily nap until they go to school.
How do you know when your little one is ‘ready’ to drop their nap?
Signs to look out for:
1) Your little one is pushing their bedtime later and later because they aren’t tired.
If your little one is taking longer than around 20-25 mins to settle once they’re in their cot / bed, this is usually a good sign they aren’t 'tired enough’.
A common bedtime for most toddlers is between 7-8 pm, but you may find they’re pushing this closer to 8.30/9pmon the days they have a nap. In the first instance, try capping their nap to 45 mins and ensure they are awake no later than 2.30pm (if they are on a 7-7 routine).
2) Your little one’s nap is getting later in the day
Most toddlers nap somewhere between 12-3. Nap length will depend on age, but it’ll most likely have dropped from around 2.5 hours to 45 mins in length. If your little one is still sleeping longer than 45 minutes, try capping their nap in the first instance to see if this helps with bedtimes.
3) Nap refusal is strong and even when they’re in their sleep environment, they don’t take a nap
Some toddlers will say they don't want to nap, but as soon as they are in their sleep environment, they drift off. Remember, your toddler is also learning to push boundaries and they might use their nap time as an opportunity to try push back.
Try putting them into their sleep environment to see if they decide to sleep, if they don't this is also a good time for them to have some down time and remove any sensory stimulation. If your little one is happy to 'relax' in their bed, I'd give them the full 45 minuates to enjoy this chill time, if they become upset take them out and have another form of chill time e.g. TV time or a story
4) On the days they do ‘skip a nap’ they are coping reasonably well in the evenings
Unlike other nap transitions, you may find this nap drop takes longer. You will most likely find that they start to drop a nap every few days for several weeks, then every other day and so on. Some littles may need just one nap a week for a while before they completely drop their nap.
In the first instance, I'd recommend bringing bedtime forward by an hour on the days when your little one hasn’t napped, to avoid them being overtired. Once they fall into their rhyme, you can (slowly) push bedtime back to their usual time.
Dropping a nap completely is a big milestone for your toddler (and most likely for you too!). Some toddlers might go through a stage where they ‘test the water’ and drop a nap for a few days or weeks then decide they aren’t quite ready.
If your little one goes to nursery, this can also influence their naps - if all their buddies are napping they may continue to nap at nursery and not at home. Or it could be the opposite - their friends have all dropped their nap so they don’t take one at nursery but still need one at the weekend.
Remember to follow your toddler's lead and allow for a bit of back and forth whilst they settle into their new routine