When Do Kids Stop Napping?

image001To parents, naps for kids are the most important part of the day. While giving younger children the rest they need, it also gives parents some respite from childcare. Babies and small children need to sleep for their health and development. Most of the body and brain development happen in the early years and sleep helps children grow.

Napping during the day is a necessary requirement to help children rest and prevent them from fatigue. However, when your baby gets older, they may drop the napping habit and get busy with other activities. The good news is when kids do stop taking naps, they are usually ready. Below are some of the signs that your child is ready to stop napping.

When Do Kids Stop Napping?

Prior to the first birthday, babies usually nap twice daily in the morning and afternoon. After the first birthday they continue to nap twice daily until about 18 months of age. Somewhere between the first birthday and 18 months they tend to stop napping in the morning but are still largely dependent on the afternoon nap. This helps them last until bedtime without becoming overly fussy and tired.

Afternoon naps will be necessary even after you have said goodbye to the morning nap. Up until the age of 4 years old, over half of toddlers still need their afternoon nap. Around 70% of toddlers will be able to stop taking naps altogether by 5 years of age. A few children will still need to take naps, about 3 out of every 10 kids. This may go on until some kids are 6 years old.

So with these points in mind, every child will have their own unique needs in regard to naps. Naps during the day will depend on how much your child is sleeping at night. 

Important Notes to Bear in Mind:

  • Rest is necessary even if they don’t fall asleep. Children less than 4 years old that will not nap for you need to at least have a resting time even if they do not fall asleep. Make sure your toddler knows that all kids need to lay down after lunchtime so they can play until dinnertime. Give your child some books or toys to play with quietly. Make the room dark and quiet and give your child an hour or two to recharge. This will give you a break too.
  • Encourage taking a nap if they don’t get the rest needed. Children that do not sleep for at least 12 hours per night will most likely still need naps. Children who don’t go to preschool need to be put down for a nap in their usual sleeping spot. Kids who attend daycare need to have a steady nap routine when they are at home on the weekends. Keep a special stuffed animal or teddy to use for naps at school and at home.
  • Schedule sleeping time wisely. Late afternoon naps after 4 p.m. may interfere with bedtime. If your child is ready to let go of naps, it is a good idea to set bedtime just a little earlier. Start a good bedtime routine and keep it the same every night. Bedtime routines include things like bath after dinner, quiet reading, and soft music and avoid television or video games. Try not to give food or drinks with caffeine or sugar in the evening hours.

What Are the Signs of Kids Ready to Stop Napping?

When do kids stop napping? Look out for those signs:



The signs of needing to sleep during the day disappear and cannot seem to fall asleep at naptime

This is the most common sign that a child no longer needs naps As toddlers get older, they are able to stay awake for longer periods of time. If your child wakes up around 8 a.m. and used to take his nap at 1 p.m. but is still wide awake at that time, he may be ready to drop the afternoon nap.

Your child is still wide eyed at bedtime and it is hard to get him to sleep at night

Your child may still take a daytime nap just fine, but it is seeming to interfere with bedtime routines because he slept too much during the day. The first issue is taking a long time to fall asleep in the afternoon and sleeping too late in the afternoon. This will mean your child may not feel sleepy due to a late afternoon nap.

Your child is not showing signs of being overtired after skipping the afternoon nap

A child that still needs naps will surely show sign of being overtired at the end of the day. If you allow your child to skip the afternoon nap and there are no signs of excessive tiredness at the end of the day then they are probably ready to stop napping.

More Tips for You When Kids Stop Napping

Naptime transition can be frustrating. Your child may still need short afternoon naps so here are some tips to help the transition go smoothly:

1. Keep a Journal

During this transitional phase it is important to take note of your child’s nap routine. Keep a journal with your child’s nap schedule. Note naptimes and your child’s behavior. You will notice if your child is fussy and seems tired, you will still need to put him down for a nap even if he refuses. On days that he is playing wide awake until dinnertime and goes to bed just fine, you can probably let go of the nap in the afternoon. After letting go of the afternoon nap, note in the journal your child’s behavior at bedtime. Excessive fussiness may tell you that it is not time to stop afternoon naps.

2. Minimize Sleeping Protests

Your child may still need some sleep in the afternoon but resists taking a nap. If your child protests naps try to play some soothing music, pat her back gently or take her for a ride in the car or stroller to help her fall asleep. Even if your toddler settles in with some books or toys and lays in bed quietly while listening to books on tape or watching a movie until they fall asleep.

3. Be Prepared for Rough Days

Your child may be going along just fine without a nap most days and then all of a sudden show signs of tiredness or be very fussy and cranky other days. This happens and is usually due to lack of enough sleep at night. Keep in mind that children less than 5 years of age should be getting 10 to 12 hours of sleep every night. If these days happen, try an earlier bedtime.

4. Instead of Naps, Have Rest Times

Have quiet rest periods in the afternoon for your child to unwind. This can include quiet play, coloring or movie time. This will help satisfy your child’s need to rest and recharge and give you a break too. Keep a special box with quiet time activities that only come out at a certain time in the afternoon. This way your child will be excited for rest times.

5. Keep a Consistent Routine

If your child does well without naps at home, but seems to have a hard time getting to bed after napping at daycare then her routine needs to be made more consistent. You may have to either go back to napping on days she is at home or ask the daycare if she can drop her nap there. Either way younger children still need a consistent routine.

6. Do Something Fun

Getting rid of naps means more time for fun. After your child becomes accustomed to being awake in the afternoons, use this time to have some fun one-on-one time. Use this time to go to a park, go for a swim or go out and about. Napping has kept you at home in the afternoon for a few years now, so now you can enjoy your afternoons with your child.