Updated: Jun 18, 2019
As parents we look forward to the daily nap time that our little ones take. This is our oasis, a minor break from the chaos and non stop schedule of our children. Most parents dread the talk of even imagining their life with no nap time, but the reality is there is a time and place to start seeing if this should be an option for your child. Implementing a rest time could always be your next best plan.
Don’t Act Too Fast:
It is important that parents take time and patience when deciding if it is the right time to cut out their little ones naps. Take a good 7-10 days to evaluate your child’s over all sleep. What is their age, how much total sleep do they require in a 24 hour period, break down how much of the total sleep is going into naps and into their overnight sleep. If your child attends daycare or preschool have their teachers jot down their behavior each day along with their actual nap time and how long it took them to fall asleep. If you have documentation it is much easier to make a thorough decision if naps should be removed at this point.
When the pure dread of bedtime approaches because as a parent you know it will be hours of meltdowns, tantrums and screaming matches to try and just attempt to get your child into their bed. Once you finally have reached the point to get them to stay in their bed it can be hours of them rolling around, kicking their walls, talking and playing until they finally fall asleep, maybe even after your bedtime. If this sounds familiar it could be time to start cutting back on the nap time. This is not always the case as there are multiple reasons that could cause bedtime drama. This is a good place to begin when you are considering reducing or cutting out naps.
Naps Are Taking Up Too Much Overall Sleep Time:
Many times parents are hesitant to remove the naps as their child falls asleep easily and will sleep 2-3 hours and lets be honest as parents we enjoy this time to catch a moment to ourselves. You must evaluate your child, their needs and how much overall sleep is required at this age. For instance, if you have a 4 year old child who requires 10-12 hours of total sleep and they are getting a 3 hour nap daily. You are left with only 7-9 hours of sleep to work with overnight. Therefore, your child may not fall asleep until 9 pm and waking at 5 am unable to go back to sleep. Also, you may see more wake ups during the night time hours as the lengthy nap time started to interfere with overnight sleep.
Daycares and Preschools Limiting Nap Times:
This may sound harsh, but you are the parent paying for child care services. I have seen too many cases of daycare's requiring 3-5 year old children to have a 3 hour nap period, whether they fall asleep or not. This is not feasible and purely unrealistic for this age group. Especially if they are required to lay down for 3 hours, of course most children will eventually fall asleep many times later into the afternoon after being required to lay down for such a long time. This can cause big time problems at bedtime and overnight for any child sleeping this long or being required to lay down for an extended time in the late afternoon. The expectations need to be realistic for each age group. Asking 3-5 year old's to lay down 1 -1.50 hours is understandable, but a 5 year old truly may not need any actual sleep time, a short rest period will be sufficient to help parents when a child gets ready for bedtime.
Final Thoughts: Remember there is no universal age or timing when all children will remove naps form their daily schedule. Taking the time to document and evaluating how a child handles the transition is most important. Some times children simply need to adjust their nap time or cut down on the length of the nap. Then the time comes to completely take the nap out of the equation.There can always be bumps in the road, take 7-10 days after removing the nap to see if you have seen any progress in their bedtime or overnight sleep, if not its time to evaluate other areas of their sleep that may need some extra tweaking.