How do you know when your toddler is ready to drop their day nap? What is the best way to manage this transition?

I get asked this question a lot by my clients as it can be a tough transition for many parents.

I always tell parents who fear for the day when their toddler will finally drop their midday nap that it’s anyone’s guess when it may happen. There are toddlers who drop their nap at 18 months and some who still need it when they are 4 years old. I also believe it can be a fluid process whereby there are stages where your toddler may require a short nap that day if for example they didn’t sleep well the night before or they are going through a major change such as starting a new childcare.

But how do you know when your toddler is really ready and what should you be doing to prepare yourself/handle this transition?

Some signs your toddler is ready:

  1. They fight you each time you try and put them to sleep at a time of the day that was most regular for them.
  1. They genuinely are not showing signs of tiredness at their usual bedtime hour even without sleeping during the day.
  1. They wake up/go to sleep feeling rested and seem to be in good spirits.
  1. On days where you have managed to put them down for even an hour, you find that at night they are still awake hours after you have put them to bed.
  1. They would rather play and talk in their bed late into the evening hours than fall asleep.
  1. It takes them an usually long amount of time to fall asleep (ie: until 10pm or even later).
  1. You have noticed these changes occurring for at least a few weeks

What can you do to ease yourself through this transition?

  1. Don’t fight it. It’s a normal part of development
  1. Once you properly drop their nap, put them to bed earlier for at least a week so you can prevent over tiredness. For example if their usual bedtime is 8pm, make it 7.00pm or 7.30pm just until they have adjusted.
  1. If your child is in daycare, advise them that they have dropped their nap and you no longer want them sleeping during the day, unless, they seem extremely off and overtired. In these cases limit the nap to 45 mins – 1hr.
  1. Watch carefully that this is not just a phase but they have generally reached this development milestone and don’t hesitate to reinstate if you feel they are not ready to drop it.
  1. With all changes give it at least a few weeks before reverting back to old sleeping patterns to see which reality you are actually facing
  1. Be CONSISTENT with your routine. If you have decided to drop the nap or even gradually phase it out, make sure you do the same thing each day otherwise your little toddler will get confused and the change will take even longer to take affect.