The No Nap Transition
It’s typical for children to stop needing daytime sleep between the ages of 3 and 5. Here are the two major indications that your child is truly nearing the end of nap time.
They consistently stop falling asleep at nap time - despite the most perfectly conducive sleep environment, naps being regularly offered at the right times, and a predictable pre-nap routine.
As our babies become big kids, their natural drive to sleep during the day lessens. They may still need the sleep very much, but they also need their grownups to help make it as easy as possible for them to attain this midday sleep. Consider these three areas if naps are being missed to determine if your child is truly ready for this transition.
A too light sleep environment may make it difficult for your child to lean into day sleep, tricking you into thinking they are ready to drop the nap. If the room they are sleeping in, right in the middle of the day, has enough light to pique any of their many interests it can be very difficult or impossible for them to lean into their nap. When your child begins to resist nap time, make certain to increase the darkness level of their sleep environment before you consider removing the nap from their schedule.
A poorly timed nap may make it difficult for your child to lean into day sleep, tricking you into thinking they are ready to drop the nap. If sleep is regularly being offered outside of the 12-1pm window, it will be much more difficult for your child to fall asleep, stay asleep, and attain the restorative sleep a better timed nap will bring. When your child begins to resist nap time, make certain that you are offering their nap within the 12-1pm window before removing the nap from their schedule.
Children benefit from routine and predictability around transitions, such as the transition from wake time/play time to sleep time/rest time. Ensure that your child has a predictable bedtime routine, and then take an abbreviated version of that routine to use before naps as well. I recommend ending this nap routine well before your child is asleep so they are comfortable falling asleep all by themselves. Too much presence from grownups during nap time will make it difficult for many children to lean into their day time sleep.
They are struggling to fall asleep at night, regularly taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep at bedtime - despite an ideal sleep environment, otherwise perfectly timed sleep schedule, and a wonderfully predictable bedtime routine.
Consider these three areas if your child is struggling to fall asleep at bedtime to determine if it’s truly time for the midday nap to go.
A too light sleep environment may make it difficult for your child to lean into sleep at bedtime when the sun may very well still be shining. Ensure that your child’s sleep environment is so incredibly dark that there is nothing else they could do beyond fall into a deep and blissful sleep.
A poorly timed bedtime may make it difficult for your child to lean into sleep for the night. Oftentimes, when babies or young children struggle to fall asleep at bedtime, it’s because bedtime is too late. Surprisingly enough, a bedtime that is even a touch too late, will make it more difficult for a child to fall asleep easily, consolidate sleep, and lengthen sleep. Aim for bedtime to land somewhere between 6-8pm depending on your particular child’s sleep needs. It’s often helpful to err on the earlier side of that range in the presence of a sleep issue.
A predictable and soothing bedtime routine is an integral in facilitating a smooth transition between wake time/play time and sleep time/rest time for your child.
Once you confirm that the sleep environment, timing of sleep, and predictable pre-sleep routines are all in place - and your child is still regularly resisting their midday nap or struggling to fall asleep at bedtime, then it may very well be time to start implementing “Quiet Time” as a replacement for their nap.
If you're not certain that your child is ready for Quiet Time, and they are struggling to nap or sleep through the night, you can also choose to schedule a free 15 minute discovery call to learn more about working one on one with me to create a sustainable healthy sleep foundation for your child.