Giving Up Naps

Giving Up Naps

It’s a sad day. I have been looking forward to sweet, sweet nap time for one or more of my three kids every day for the past six years, and now it’s about to be gone from my life forever. I guess it’s the first step toward saying goodbye to the days of babies. Nap time is going to be gone long before the crib is put away or our last nursing session is over, even.

All three of my kids have given up naps before preschool. But I had a friend who was worried about her daughter starting all-day Kindergarten because she still took naps at 5. So when is the right time to give up naps?

There is no “right time.” Every kid grows and develops at a different rate. Some kids will absolutely still nap right up to starting Kindergarten, and some kids will give up naps way too early. The key is to take cues from your child.  Here are four cues that will tell you a lot about where your child is in the process.

  • Nighttime sleep. If your child is sleeping 12-14 hours per night, they are getting enough sleep to start skipping naps. It’s OK if they still nap and sleep this much at night. Just know that if they start skipping naps, they are still getting enough sleep for growth and development.
  • Resisting daytime naps. I experienced this with my first and second children. At a certain point, it felt like it was more work to get them down for naps than it was worth. Pay attention to sleepiness cues and grumpiness. If your child doesn’t want to go down and they aren’t exhibiting any of their usual sleep cues, you may be right in not fighting this battle.
  • Being up way too late when they nap. This has always been my biggest red flag since we are very regular with our 7:30 bedtime. When my kids are wide awake–and happy–past 8, 9, and 10pm, I know it’s time to give up naps.
  • No witching hour. There are times when naps don’t make it into your schedule because you have a busy day—pay attention to how your child responds on these days. Do they melt into a puddle at your feet at 4pm, or do they seem unfazed? When your child isn’t cranky or overemotional because of missing their nap, they might be over nap time.

Do they have to show all these signs, or just a few? Well, my 22-month-old doesn’t stay up late when she does nap, but she gets enough sleep, no longer has those evening meltdowns, and some days it takes longer to get her down than she naps. Different kids will react differently to not napping, so if you’re not sure, experiment.

Keep in mind there is a happy medium—you can always give up the sleep aspect and keep that hour or so of quiet time where you unplug and read or play quietly. If you are pregnant or have a baby that still needs to nap, this can help preserve their quiet time as well.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mom of three girls who is about to go pour one out for naptime. She lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.

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