It's the day NO ONE wants to come: time to say goodbye to the nap!
Personally, I dreaded the nap drop but it's now turned into a fun opportunity to watch my daughter increase her independent play skills...and sometimes sneak off for midday dates just the 2 of us!!
When To Drop The Nap:
- Typically between age 2.5 - 3.5 years old
Signs To Look For When Dropping The Nap:
- Fighting the nap 5/7 days for 2-3 weeks (crying, playing in the crib, not settling for sleep)
- Taking a great nap but taking hours to fall asleep at night (stalling tactics, not settling for sleep, crying out or playing in crib)
- Waking very early in the morning (4-5am) and feeling ready to start the day
How To Eliminate The Nap:
- Talk to your child about how they won't have to nap anymore: "Hey ___! Guess what! You don't have to take a nap anymore! Instead, every day after lunch you'll have quiet time where you can ____________ (read, draw, look at books, play-doh, pretend play, etc)."
- Take it away! Cold turkey!
- It will take your child 4-6 weeks to adjust to being awake for 11-12 hours a day, so for the first few weeks you'll be offering an early bedtime (5:30/6pm sounds crazy, but you'll realize they might need it!!)
- Once they seem adjusted (better mood, able to keep normal attitude throughout the evening) get them back on track to normal bedtime.
- I suggest 7-8pm bedtime for children ages 2.5-5 years old
Quiet Time Activites:
- Be creative!!
- Have your child set a timer to mark the start and end of their quiet time
- You'll find they cannot handle a pure hour at first, so start small with 15-20 minutes and slowly build up to an hour
- Create a basket/bin with activities they love: play-doh, drawing pads, markers, etc
- Allow them to play with that basket ONLY at Quiet Time and re-fill with things as needed
- For the first few days/week you might need to guide your child in what to do and how to have an independent quiet time
- DO NOT allow TV, tablets, phones, etc as these actually stimulate the brain not restore it
- TV or games on a tablet are allows after the quiet time
- DOWNLOAD A QUIET TIME EXPECTATIONS PHOTO BELOW!!
Keeping The Nap:
- Every now and then I am in situations where we have to keep the nap (daycare, parents work late and can't do 7pm bedtime, etc). That's oaky! If your child is easily sleeping during the day, but fighting bedtime, we can keep the nap and adjust bedtime.
- If your child is sleeping during the day I would cap the nap to no more than 2 hours and adjust bedtime between 8-9pm.
- Find the best bedtime for your child by starting at 8pm, and adjusting 15 minutes later every few days until you find the best place where they fall asleep within 10 minutes and sleep 9-10 hours.
Okay, so you've dropped the nap...but your child is STILL waking at night.
"I'm ready to get sleep!!!"