Catherine Completely Baby Sleep Consultant

Catherine Thompson
Baby Sleep Consultant & Owner of Completely Baby

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Approaching the time when your toddler drops their naps in a day might feel daunting. You’ll have dedicated time and energy getting them into a rhythm, only to now start focusing on eliminating naps?!

This is a natural part of the process as you help them develop a more mature sleep routine. Knowing when toddlers drop their final nap can be tricky, but there are no hard rules here.

Read on to learn when and how to support your toddler with this exciting next step on their sleep journey!

First Things First: Have Patience

When Do Toddlers Drop Their FinalYou might read a lot of different advice on when do toddlers drop their final nap, which can get confusing.

The truth is, there’s rarely a single time when you can say ‘no more naps’ for your toddler. As they get ready, you’ll notice consistent signs they no longer need the nap.

If you’re beginning this process and they still have days when they do need a nap, it’s not a sign of failure. You need to look at the complete picture of their day and ensure you’re still meeting their needs.

For example, if they’ve had a night of broken sleep or they’re feeling unwell, or even just had a busier, more active morning than usual – this could all lead them to need a nap, even if they’ve gone days without one.

It’s about patience and working with your child and their needs as you enter this phase.

Your Toddlers Sleep Stage & Requirements

It’s helpful to revisit some of the general recommended sleep requirements for your toddler based on their age:

Eight to Twelve Months: Your baby should get between 12-16 hours of sleep. You can expect your baby to drop from three naps to two naps around this stage. If your baby still needs 3 naps after this age and it’s working, follow their lead.

One to Two Years: Your toddler will need between 11-14 hours of sleep. You can expect to start seeing some signs your baby is ready to drop to one nap a day at this stage.

Three to Five Years: Your older toddler needs around 10-13 hours of sleep. It’s common for children to still have one nap at this age, but this is generally when they’ll be phasing out of daytime naps.

I’m often asked at what age naps stop – or should they have stopped by?

According to research, almost all three-year-olds still have at least one nap a day. This number decreases to around 60% of four-year-olds and less than 30% of five-year-olds. By six, less than 10% of children still need a daytime nap.

So – remember – patience! If your four-year-old still needs a daytime nap now and then, that’s fine.

3 Signs Your Toddler is Ready to Drop Their Nap

When I’m working with parents to create a plan for their toddler to drop the final nap, there are some key signs we look out for together to help us know the time is right. This includes:

1. Your child is struggling to sleep at bedtime: If, after having their daytime nap, your child is restless at bedtime, waking through the night or generally unable to get to sleep when they usually would, this is a clear sign their final nap might not be necessary anymore.

2. They are happy to stay awake through the day without getting cranky: On the days they don’t have a nap, they’re still relatively amiable, happy to engage with play and activities, and aren’t getting sleep-cranky or overtired.

3. They resist the nap: If your child is reluctant to nap and struggling to drift off at their usual nap time, this is also a good sign it’s time to phase the final nap out of their day.

3 Signs Your Toddler Isn’t Ready to Drop Their Nap

As mentioned, there isn’t a clear line that says ‘now’ is the right time for your toddler dropping their day nap. There will still be times in the early days of this transition when they still need their daily nap.

Here’s a few signs to look for if this is the case:

1. They get cranky and irritable: If they’re overtired, cranky and irritable at their normal nap time, then it’s a sign they still need to take the time to rest.

2. They’re going to bed much earlier than normal: While you can expect their bedtime to move forward a little bit without the nap, if this happens hours before their normal bedtime, it’s a sign they might still need their day nap.

3. They’re experiencing a change in their day or environment: If your toddler has a big day, is feeling unwell, had a poor night’s sleep, or is going through a developmental change – these are all occasions when a daytime nap might still be required. Remember their complete daily experience as you make this transition and adapt as needed.

4 Top Nap Transition Tips

Considering everything above, deciding it’s time for your toddler to drop the final nap can feel like a big leap – for both of you!

Remember, there is no rush, and working with your child daily will see you get the most success. If you’ve read through the above and feel confident they’re ready for the transition, I recommend the following:

1. Observe your toddler and how they respond: On the days you drop the nap, pay attention to how well they cope. Do they sleep well through the night, get overtired and cranky, how early are they waking up in the morning? Keep a mental note of these changes so you can tell if this is working well or not.

2. Take into account how much total day sleep they’ve had and need: A poor night’s sleep will likely mean they need a nap at some point in the day. Factor this in when making the transition.

3. Be prepared to bring their bedtime earlier: It’s normal without the day nap that your child will need to head to bed a little earlier and will likely wake a bit earlier too. Look out for those early tired signs and be led by these to avoid over-tiredness leading into their night sleep.

4. Offer a rest instead: If your toddler has dropped their nap, then its important that you offer some time for rest and relaxation instead. I reccomend half an hour to an hour of quiet time. Ideas may include: lying your little one down in their bed or cot, reading or listening to audio books, puzzles or drawing.

Baby Sleep FAQ

1. What age should naps stop?

There’s no clear-cut age when naps should stop completely, as every child is different, but most children have stopped needing any naps by school age so around 5 or 6 years old.

2. What if my 3-year-old won’t nap?

This could be a sign they’re ready to drop their daytime nap! If your child is resisting the nap and is happy to stay awake without any detrimental impact on their mood, it’s okay to work with them on this and phase out the nap altogether. Just remember to bring bedtime forward a little to support this.

3. How long should a 2.5-year-old nap?

Most 2-3-year-olds have dropped to one nap a day- again the duration of the nap will differ for each individual child and may need to be tweaked accordingly.. In total, a 2.5-year-old should get 11-14 hours of sleep daily. Check out the recommended sleep guidelines for help on this.

Need Some Help?

A final reminder – that always needs repeating! – be patient. Every child is different and has different needs. Don’t compare to anyone else; focus on what works best for you and your child. It’s okay if they need to nap a bit longer than others; just keep helping them progress.

If you’re struggling with nap transitions or any aspect of your baby’s sleep – I can help.

As an experienced baby sleep consultant based in Sydney, I’ve worked with hundreds of parents and their babies, and I can provide you with the advice and guidance to see you through subsequent regressions.

Book a completely free chat with me here today, and let’s help your baby on their way to better sleep.

Catherine Completely Baby Sleep Consultant

Catherine Thompson
Baby Sleep Consultant & Owner of Completely Baby

Did you find this article helpful? I am a highly experienced baby sleep consultant with a unique educational and healthcare background who supports tired parents to help their babies find sleep more easily. If you want to chat about your situation please book in a free chat today by clicking the below button now! Alternatively you can text or call me on: +61 406 344 010.