Alright, that dreaded day has FINALLY arrived when your little one is ready to drop his nap. Or maybe he isn’t ready? You have NO idea because he seems too old for napping but too young for NOT napping. Or maybe when your little one naps, he doesn’t go to bed until 10pm at night….but when he DOESN’T nap, he’s a hot mess by 5pm. Or maybe you’re just never sure if your little one is actually going to nap when you put him down.
Does any of this sound familiar?
If you’re nodding your head, have a listen. This episode is for you!
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Hey there, you’re listening to the, My Sleeping Baby podcast, which is all about baby and child sleep. I’m so excited to teach you how you can get your little ones sleeping so that you can sleep too and enjoy parenthood to its fullest. I’m Eva Klein, your resident’s sleep expert, mom of three, founder of the Sleep Bible online coaching program, and lover of all things sleep and motherhood. If you’re looking for tangible solutions for your little one sleep woes or you simply want to learn more, this podcast is for you. For more information, check out mysleepingbaby.com and you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook @mysleepingbaby.
Hey everyone. So today we’re going to talk all about the one to zero nap transition. The day that every parent dreads, when their little one is finally ready to get through the day without a nap guys, that day is going to come. And so I want to tackle it head on. I want to talk specifically about when this typically happens, when you’ll know that your little one is ready to drop their nap, how you’ll know that they’re ready and then how you should go about dropping that nap and what you should do instead of nap time. So let’s talk about the, when I would say on average, most kids are ready to drop their nap somewhere in the three to three and a half range, though. I will tell you that the range is bigger than that. I have seen kids on the younger end of the spectrum, you know, before the age of three, be able to get through the day, no problem without napping.
And then I’ve also seen kids at the other end of the spectrum before even five years old and struggle to get through the day without napping at all. But I would say the average is definitely in the three to three and a half year range. So here are some signs that you should be looking out for that your little one is ready to drop their nap. So sign number one is that they are really fighting bedtime. So even with that nap happening in an earlier part of the day, your little one is still fighting bedtime tooth and nail refusing to go to sleep. And then as a result, not falling asleep until nine or 10 o’clock that’s one very clear sign. Another clear sign is that even if you try pushing the nap later, he fights the nap itself. And so if your little one is just clearly not tired enough for that nap anymore, that’s another clear sign that the nap is probably going to be disappearing soon.
And then sign number three, that your little one might be ready to drop his nap is if you start getting some really early wake ups, but with a completely happy well rested preschooler, because remember there’s only so much sleep that your little one can give you over a 24 hour period. And so if your little one is only needs, let’s say 12 hours of sleep, which is what an average three-year-old needs. And he sleeps two hours during the day and goes to bed for seven o’clock every night, 10 hours later, that gets you a 5:00 AM, wake up and a total of 12 hours of night sleep. And so if that’s what seems to be happening day in and day out, that’s another very clear sign that your little one might be ready to be dropping his nap. Now, a lot of people think that if you’re experiencing any of these signs, that the solution needs to involve removing the nap cold Turkey.
And that’s just not the case before removing the nap cold Turkey, I would actually recommend that you try shortening the nap first. So if your little one is usually sleeping an hour and a half to two hours during the day, I wouldn’t recommend just getting rid of it, but rather just shorten it by even a 30 minute increment of time. So cut it down from say two hours to 90 minutes that might create more sleep pressure for your little one to be able to fall asleep more easily at bedtime. It might allow for 30 minutes of extra sleep to be transferred from the daytime to the nighttime. So you no longer get an early rising problem because you see for your little ones to go from napping two hours a day. So barely napping at all or not napping whatsoever. He might get really overtired with such a cold turkey transition.
And so I would definitely recommend cutting back on the duration of time before you eliminate it completely. Another thing to remember about this particular transition is that it’s very normal for kids to go back and forth between one nap and between one nap and not napping at all. Some kids when they drop the nap, it’s never seen from ever again, barring anything massively extenuating. I can say that with my girls, when they each dropped their nap, it was basically gone for, for good barring the odd exception here and there. But there are some kids that might be ready to drop their nap, like 50% of the time. And so that might mean every other day. They really need to nap because they’re exhausted. But then every other day, they’re fine getting through the day without a nap whatsoever. So don’t be afraid if your little one spends even a few months flip flopping back and forth between napping and no napping, or what’s also very common is for your little one to not nap at school during the week, but then nap Saturday and Sunday on the weekends.
That’s no problem because maybe after five days of not napping, your little one’s got to catch up on some sleep. And so if your little one clearly needs that nap on the weekends, let him catch up. It’s not gonna do any harm. Now I will tell you that when your little one does drop his nap and maybe it’s all the way he’s not napping whatsoever. Maybe he’s not napping every other day. I would strongly recommend that you introduce a very early bedtime to compensate for him not napping. So if your little one before was napping from, let’s say one until two 30 and then going to bed for eight o’clock Mark my words without that nap, he is not going to be able to make it through the day all the way until 8:00 PM. In fact, I know with each of my kids, when they were done with their naps, they were each in bed by 7:00 PM at the absolute latest.
In fact, I remember, my older daughter when she dropped her nap, she was just above the age of three. And it was over the summer time when she dropped her nap. And so she was in camp all day. And so she would come home from a full day of camp at let’s say, you know, three or three 30 and by six o’clock, I kid you not, she was out like a light exhausted, and she would sleep from 6:00 PM until 7:00 AM. The next day it was, I’m not gonna lie. It was pretty awesome. Now, unfortunately, that phase was short-lived and she did get over that hump. But I think by the fall time when she started school again, she was able to make it until seven o’clock and then seven o’clock remained her bedtime for a while longer because that 7:00 PM bedtime allowed her to get that 12 hours of sleep.
And so just remember that, that, you know, most three-year-olds when they’re dropping that nap really need to be sleeping around the clock to compensate. So bumping that bedtime back earlier is really going to help with the transition and avoid over tiredness in the process. Now, what do you do when your little one has dropped their nap completely? And it’s now one o’clock in the afternoon, what are you supposed to do? So I recommend if possible to introduce even a little bit of quiet time, because even though your little one might not be sleeping anymore, your little one is still going to benefit from having some downtime during the day for some quiet activities. And so that might mean reading some books, you know, playing with some toys really quietly. I wouldn’t recommend taking your little one out at that hour or two, you know, the playground and engaged in some really, you know, energized activity.
Let your little one take some time to just relax during that timeframe. It might only be 30 minutes at first. I mean, it can take these kids a little bit of time to figure out how to do this whole quiet time thing, right? They’re not used to playing by themselves for an hour. It’s going to take them a while to figure it out. And so one idea that I might suggest is to have a special box of quiet time activities that are reserved for that time of day only. So that this way, when your little one is time to have her quiet time, she’s got something that she can really look forward to. And if after 10 or 20 minutes, she tells you I’m done, really do your best to try redirecting her back to whatever activity she was engaged with, or perhaps try exploring another quiet activity that was in that special activity box so that she can really get used to spending more and more downtime playing and relaxing so that when quiet time is over, she can start up an another activity that is more energizing and exciting.
Now, a lot of parents specifically working parents will often ask me the following question. They’ll say to me, Eva, do I have to get rid of my little one’s nap? If he is fighting bedtime? If I don’t mind just pushing his bedtime off later, because I’ll have a lot of working parents say to me, listen, you know, I don’t get home from work until six 30. And so I would love for my little guides to hold onto his nap for a little bit longer. If it means I can keep him up until nine and spend more time with him. And you know what, I’ll tell you if that works for you, do it. There’s no problem with that whatsoever. As long as he is getting enough sleep over that 24 hour period, then you’ve got nothing to worry about. I mean, look, I can tell you personally when my girls were each about three and, and one or no, sorry, they were four, four and a half and two and a half, or actually yeah, four and a half in two and a half.
That was actually around the time that I began practically eliminating Eliana’s nap. Eliana is my middle child because at that time, at that period of time, my husband and I were in agreement, we wanted both the kids in bed at seven o’clock. We wanted to be able to clock out at seven o’clock. They were young, they were adorable, but they were also exhausting. Right? And so if I had to choose between keeping a nap and pushing the bedtime later, versus getting rid of the nap and bumping bedtime back earlier, I was absolutely going to go with the latter. And so my daughter Eliana at the time, if I recall, she was about two years and 10 months. In fact, she, even with a 60 minute long nap during the day would fight her seven to seven 30 bedtime tooth and nail and not fall asleep until after nine.
And even though I selfishly wanted her to go to sleep significantly earlier than that, I knew that getting rid of her nap was actually in her best interest as well, because what would happen is if she napped during the day for an hour, she would only fall asleep by 9:00 PM. And that would sleep 10 hours until seven. And so that was a total of 11 hours of sleep. Versus if she did not nap, she would conk out by 7:00 PM sharp and then would sleep around the clock until seven giving me 12 hours of sleep. And so in that specific situation, the nap was actually robbing her of an hours worth of sleep over that 24 hour period. So it worked out really well for me, that what I wanted also happens to be what she needed. And so at that period of time, it was an absolute, no brainer to be getting rid of her nap.
But for a lot of kids, that’s not the way it ends up playing out for a lot of kids. If you keep that one hour nap, then they’ll still fall asleep by let’s say eight 30 and then sleep until seven 30, still giving you a total of 12 hours. And so if you’re that parent that would prefer to keep your little one up longer and keep that nap for a little bit longer, that’s totally fine. So to sum up, how do you know when your little one is ready to drop their nap? They will likely be in the three to three and a half year range though, as I said, some are a little bit younger, some are a little bit older. They might be fighting their nap. They might be fighting bedtime and they might be waking up really, really early. All three of these are signs that your little one’s nap is likely on its last leg. So I hope that this was helpful and that you guys have a great day.
Speaker 2: (13:16)
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, leave a review and share this episode with a friend who can benefit from it. I also love hearing from my listeners. So feel free to DM me on Instagram @myseleepingbaby, or send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org until next time have a wonderful restful night.
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