When should my child drop their nap?

Here are some signs your child may be ready to drop their day sleep and some activities you can transition to when your child is ready!

Are you dreading the day when your child decides to drop their nap? It can be a challenging time. All children are different, and like most things in parenting there is no one size fits all approach. Sleep is critical in a child’s development as it’s when they rest, recharge and grow – and it’s just as important for adults!

Every child is different, and when they drop their day sleep can vary significantly. The main reason children start to drop their day sleep is to assist with a better and longer sleep overnight.

They usually drop their nap between 2.5 to 5 years of age.

At Genius Childcare, we believe in sound sleep and rest times for children as this is when they grow and recharge their little bodies. We encourage a day sleep; however, when the day sleep is no longer needed, we like to encourage our children to have some quiet time or quiet play during this time. This may be reading a book, listening to soft music or resting with a favourite toy.

Rest assured, when your child is transitioning out of their daytime sleep, you are not alone. This can be a challenging and emotional time; all children are different, there is no one size fits all when it comes to children's sleep routine.

Let’s take a look at the signs your child may be ready to drop their day sleep and some quiet time activities you can transition to when your child is ready.

No More Meltdowns

No parent wants to hear that their child may be ready to drop their day sleep. This nap can be a time for parents to rest themselves, attend to another child, get some cleaning done or simply have some time out. However, if your child is getting through the day with no tired outbursts or meltdowns, this could be a sign they are ready to drop their day sleep. Emotional regulation for toddlers requires them to sleep well, so if you find they are content and energised throughout the day, it’s time to look at dropping their nap. This shows their evening sleep is now enough to rejuvenate them and sustain their energy throughout the day.

Day Nap Issues

You may notice that nap time in your house is becoming more and more complex. What once was a peaceful wake to sleep transition might turn into a living nightmare! Your child may be resisting their nap, not want to sleep and may not show any tired signs. You may find that their day sleep is becoming later and later in the day, or shorter and shorter, and is affecting getting them settled into bed in the evening. Your child may also have difficulty getting to sleep at nap time, or you may find that they don't sleep at all. Some parents also find their child waking up earlier and earlier in the morning. All of these are indicators that your child might be ready to drop their day sleep.

Transitioning Away from Daytime Sleeps

To ensure the transition away from daytime sleep is as smooth as it can be, we suggest the following tips to make this change in routine as smooth as possible;

  • Explain – It's essential to explain the new routine to your child. Explain to them that you know they do not want a daytime sleep anymore; however, this will still be a time for rest and relaxation. Naptime can now be called quiet time. This may be quiet playing, reading a book or resting in their room with a puzzle or favourite toy.
  • Same Schedule – To ensure your child’s routine is not disrupted too much, keep to the same schedule. If your child was having a nap at 2 pm, make their quiet time at the same time. If your child was sleeping for two hours, aim for quiet time to be the same; however, little ones usually only handle an hour.
  • Space – Quiet time should be in the same space as their daytime nap. This may be their bedroom or yours. Ensure the house is quiet, just like nap time. If your child has a short nap during this time, that's perfectly fine, as the transition period may take some time. You can encourage your child to rest and engage in more peaceful play.

Quiet Time Activities

There are many different quiet time activities that your child can engage with during quiet time. Any activity which is low energy, peaceful and relaxing, here are some suggestions;

  • Completing a puzzle
  • Colouring in
  • Drawing
  • Playing with soft toys or quiet toys
  • Reading a book
  • Listening to an audiobook
  • Watching a calm TV show or relaxing movie

You may find that your child seems to be reverting away from their day sleep and then suddenly needs it again. This is perfectly normal, and at Genius, we encourage you to just be guided by your child. Remember that no two children are the same, and there is no rule book. Take this change in routine at a slow pace with your child and transition when they are ready. As always, talk to your childcare team in centre to let them know what your family is going through. We are always there to assist you through a new phase in your child’s life.

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