The Art Of Dropping Naps  

Baby Sleep - When do babies drop morning nap

As parents, sleep can be the greatest gift, both for ourselves and our children. And while the amount of sleep children need remains highly contestable, there is no arguing it's a crucial part of a child's development, key to building physical and mental strength, mood regulation, and overall hauora (well-being).

In this article, we will explore naps—when to promote and drop them— addressing the thorny parental questions: At what age do kids stop napping? When do babies typically drop their morning nap? And how long should a toddler nap?

 

When do Babies Drop Their Morning Nap

The most significant step in phasing out naps in a toddler's development is transitioning from two naps to one. Typically, children start with a morning and afternoon nap schedule before gradually dropping their naps as they grow. This process naturally occurs around 12 to 18 months of age but can vary depending on the child's development.

There are two main timeframes to help you understand when your child might be ready to transition from two naps to one. The first one is around their first birthday – between 12 to 15 months – some babies start showing signs of dropping the morning nap. This is sometimes shown unambiguously by refusing to take their morning nap or by taking shorter morning naps and needing a longer afternoon nap.

The second mark is around 18 months; by this age, many toddlers have fully transitioned to a single afternoon nap, usually lasting about two to three hours.

Again, we cannot emphasise enough this is a general framework, and each child has their own timeline. For many lucky parents, children often continue to take two naps until they are closer to two years old. At the same time, other more energetic types may drop their morning nap after one year.

Like many steps in your toddler's life, being an attentive, careful parent ensures a smooth transition into reducing naps. If you notice your child more alert and energetic in the afternoon, it may be time to start the shift to single, longer naps. Similarly, if your child sleeps smoothly twice daily, there is no reason to enforce the transition hastily.

 

How Long Should a Toddler Nap?

How long your child naps is vital to knowing when to drop them. A toddler's ideal nap length varies based on age and development stage.

Toddlers between 12 and 18 months usually take one nap daily, lasting 1.5 to 3 hours. The nap length can vary daily based on your child's needs and nighttime sleep quality. Meanwhile, those between 18 months and three years might settle into a consistent afternoon nap of around two to two and one-half hours.

Lastly, children around three should start naturally outgrowing their naps. It's important to note that some children continue napping until they are four or five years old. If this happens, it's generally recommended to cap the nap to around one hour to avoid interfering with nighttime sleep.

 

At What Age Do Kids Stop Napping Altogether?

Similar to adults, each child has their own relationship with sleep. We all have a friend who can seamlessly operate on four hours of sleep, while the rest of us need at least eight to ten hours.

However, to a lesser extent, the same variation can be found with toddlers.

Some children may start to transition away from daily naps around the age of two or three years old. While others may continue to nap until they are four or five. The critical factor in determining when to drop the daytime nap is your child's individual needs and readiness.

Each child is influenced by a combination of factors, including genetics, activity levels, and nighttime sleep quality. Here are some practical signs to look out for:

  • They have difficulty falling asleep at nap time
  • They have difficulty falling asleep at night time
  • They are waking up early
  • They don't show signs of sleepiness on days without naps
  • They are no longer napping at all

Conclusion:

A child's nap often provides a much-needed break for parents. It's a rare time to step back and take a much-needed snooze on the couch. In fact, studies have suggested short naps are suitable for adults, improving alertness and reaction times.

But learning when to drop naps is equally critical. Some studies have suggested that napping in children over two years may result in sleeping later at night, with poorer quality sleep and waking earlier. While transitioning from two naps to one can be challenging, it's a natural part of your child's development.

The main thing for parents is to remember every child has different sleep cycles. To keep a close eye on cues and needs and to be flexible in adapting their nap schedule as they grow. Embrace this change as a sign of their growth and independence, and rest assured that with the proper guidance, your toddler will continue to thrive.