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Bye-bye, Siesta: How and When to Retire Your Child's Nap

Bye-bye, Siesta: How and When to Retire Your Child's Nap

Bye-bye, Siesta: How and When to Retire Your Child's Nap

"My daughter stopped her naps at 19 months," says Nicky. "I tried EVERYTHING to get her to lie down but she just wasn't having it. The end of freedom!"

Naps give both preschoolers and moms a much-needed break, say Circle of Mom members. So it's not surprising that permanently ending the afternoon nap is one of the tougher transitions young kids (and moms) go through.

Some Circle of Moms members say that nap time should be mandatory until a child goes to kindergarten. "If she misses one of her naps, my 2-year-old daughter tends to get cranky, bratty, and has a tendency for a meltdown," says Cathy P. Elizabeth B. agrees. "It can't be good for a preschooler to get less than their needed sleep," she says, and most kids crave the nap routine, even if they fight it. "Sleep does all sorts of healthy things for them, and not getting enough" sets them up for hehavioral problems and long term sleeping problems.


But many Circle of Moms insist that it's not that straightforward. When preschoolers take naps, they point out, bedtime tends to start later and the transition to night time sleep takes longer, both of which can be aggravating to moms and dads who are eager to get the whole family down for a good night's rest and some alone time for themselves. As Rose C. explains, "Sure it is nice to have some quiet time during the day when there are loads of chores to do. But I won't be able to have a good rest at night."

Is There a Right Time to Stop the Nap?

All of this begs Circle of Moms member Alexandra S's question: How old should kids be when they stop taking naps? She also wonders how you go about transitioning out of nap time, once your child is ready. "My daughter is 21 months and refuses to take naps. And if by chance I do get her to nap, she won't go to bed at night. Is she too young to stop taking naps?"

Every family has to decide for themselves, says Dyan B., because "every kid is different." Her oldest ended his nap at the age of 5, and her second when he was just barely 2. She reports that "He was pretty grumpy, but I still couldn't get him to do it." And her third child, who is almost 3, is trying to transition out of naps, but often gets tired and will lay down for some quiet time without actually falling asleep.

Transitioning to "Rest Time"

The "just lay down, you don't have to nap," tactic that Dyan B. uses with him is one that's frequently employed by Circle of Moms members to ease the transition from nap to sleepless days. "We call it ‘rest time," says Mandy V. "We keep rest time in our daily schedule...until the youngest will be in kindergarten. This time is set aside for me to wind down. There are days where my 3-year-old still needs naps so it's easy to help encourage her to sleep since its still in our daily routine. I also have a kindergartener who [gets] rest time after school for 30 minutes. This is the same time the younger sisters (ages 2 and 3) have their rest time...For rest time they may play quietly alone or together in their rooms."

Jennifer B. is another big proponent of trying to coax a tired 3-year-old to at least rest. She uses TV time as rest time: "Some days, I can tell she's really tired and fighting it and I tell her she can watch TV for a few," she says. "Usually about 5 to 10 minutes into what she is watching, she falls asleep."

The Signs of Readiness

Many Circle of Mom members agree that when it truly is time to retire a nap, the signs are clear. Chatty M. knew her 19-month-old daughter was ready to transition from two naps to one when she noticed that she wasn't terribly tired at bedtime and "heard her playing in her crib (on the monitor) while she was supposed to be napping." She recommends keeping at least one nap until age 3, but "if you lose the nap, the bottom line for me is asking, ‘Is my daughter getting the proper amount of sleep in a 24 hour period? If I can answer yes then it shouldn't matter whether she has a nap or not. Remember, every child is different."

"Don't worry, your child will give you indications when he is ready to stop his naps," agrees Helen W. "Can he be up all day and not get groggy, or is rubbing his eyes all day?" And Nicky H. offers this: "Naps aren't worth stressing out about. My mom says my sister didn't nap for more than 35 minutes at a time ever, and she has a PhD, so there you go."

Image Source: Carrier via Flicker.Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Join The Conversation
ToniaAddisonHall ToniaAddisonHall 5 years
My 5 1/2 year old gets tired midday still and if he lays down sometimes falls asleep, but he'll deny he's tired till the end! :)
AngelTom AngelTom 5 years
My daughter turned 3 in march she was a preemie (I was 32 weeks&2 day) she asks to nap yet she only naps once a day now but I'm thankful she asks now.She's potty training so at times she calls 4 me come get her now to potty,she will b a handful if she doesn't nap
NijuanaCrawfordJones NijuanaCrawfordJones 5 years
My 3 year old thinks he no longer needs naps, so we just lay down at 2 pm "to rest our eyes for 20 minutes". Lo and behold he ALWAYS falls asleep during that 20 minutes and I end up having to wake him after 3 hours or he will sleep about 6 or 7 before waking up. He then goes to bed about 9 and is up between 5 & 6 am on his own (ugh his dad and I are NOT morning people). We have tried everything to get him to sleep later, including taking away his nap, but he has a built-in alarm. If he doesn't get a nap he will fall asleep between 5 and 6 pm, right before supper and there is NO getting him up. He's out for the count.
Kristi82622 Kristi82622 5 years
My 3 yr old son, Liam has always been an excellent napper. When he was a newborn, he'd have a wonderful 3 or 4 hr nap every morning and another little nap in the afternoon and was sleeping through the night by about 6 months. He cut down to one 2 or 3 hr nap a day when he was about a year old. My other son, Edwin, is 10 months old the complete opposite. I was getting him to nap in his carseat on the washing machine after I put a load of clothes in, because that was the only way he'd sleep without being on my lap. Unfortunately, even that doesn't usually work anymore. I guess he just doesn't need as much sleep as other kids like his big brother.
LizetteGarcia LizetteGarcia 5 years
My son who is now 3 yrs old does not take anymore day nap, on occasion he falls asleep if we are driving but other than that he will not nap. I use to stress because when he naped it was my time if u know what i mean. Well now that he doesn't nap it's actually much better. He falls asleep by 9:pm sometimes he tries to fight it and I'll explain to him u didn't take a nap so it's bed time i give him his milk and he falls right asleep. Before i loved nap time but now i love him going to bed earlier. It gives me time with my hubby. I also have a 5 month old who goes to bed at 9:pm.
KimBlackburnHagan KimBlackburnHagan 5 years
I cannot recall when my oldest stopped napping maybe once she started elementary. My 6 y/o is starting the transition. He will be in 1st grade however when he becomes whiny I instruct him to lay down and half the time he will take a short nap. My soon to be 4 y/o naps religiously. If he misses a nap he becomes irritating. Both sons will still go to sleep by 8pm.
CourtneySmith35283 CourtneySmith35283 5 years
My 3 year old son still naps but we have gone from those blissful 2 hour naps to here recently Im doing good if hes down for 30 we may be getting ready to lose the naps unless he wants one. He's getting better at the quiet time deal so we'll see what happens :)
LauraClary LauraClary 5 years
My oldest that is now 5 stopped taking naps at 18-19 months old. My middle daughter that is now 3 stopped taking naps around 32 months old. The thing is though that I swear she didn't take a nap the first year of her life.
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