How long should toddlers nap—and at what age do toddlers stop napping? These are questions many parents ask. While every child is unique there are some common signs to look for that may indicate your child is ready to stop taking naps.
Sleep is key to a child’s growth and development. It helps their little bodies and minds to rest and recharge, so they can wake up feeling refreshed and ready to learn new things. Toddlers commonly sleep for about 12 hours each day, broken into three short naps that last 20 minutes to 3 hours. But as they grow their ability to take naps becomes less frequent. And at about age 3, though, most toddlers give up their naps altogether.
Here we will go over when toddlers stop taking naps, what the various indications of it are, and what you can do for a smooth nap transition.
In This Article
When do toddlers stop napping—what’s normal?
There isn’t necessarily a “normal” time for toddlers to stop napping. It’s simply a matter of when they’re developmentally ready to do so. Nap needs vary per kid based on various factors such as lifestyle, attending pre-school, and demographics. Typically, toddlers transition from taking two naps a day to just one at around 12 months old. By the time your toddler is 2-3 years old, her nap should last for a solid two to three hours in the afternoon.
Most toddlers will stop taking naps between the ages of two and four. At this age, they have the energy and stamina to stay awake for longer periods of time. They may also become less interested in napping as they discover the many fun things they can do during the day. If your child is regularly skipping naps or taking shorter naps, this is a good indication that they are ready to stop napping altogether.
“The official word from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that by age 4, most toddlers are ready to shed their afternoon snooze. Some toddlers may drop it earlier, others may need a little extra time.”
What are the signs that it may be time for your toddler to stop naps?
Not falling asleep at bedtime
While naps can be a great way to rejuvenate your toddler during the day, they can also make it more difficult for them to sleep at night. If your toddler is napping too close to bedtime, it may be interfering with their natural sleep cycle and making it harder for them to fall asleep at night. You will see that not only do they refuse naps, but they seem completely untired as well.
Waking up too early
Is your toddler having early morning wakings? If your toddler is napping for more than an hour or two during the day, they may be getting too much sleep. This can be a difficult transition for both parent and child, as naps can be a welcome respite during the day. It could be that they are simply not tired anymore and no longer need a nap. Try gradually reducing the length of their naps instead of eliminating them.
Skipping naps during scheduled naptime
It’s normal for toddlers to start cutting down on their scheduled naptime or to stop taking them altogether. If your toddler does not seem fussy or exhausted by early evening and continues to play, sing or read, this is a good sign that she is ready to transition away from her afternoon nap.
Toddler sleep schedules and napping guidelines
2-year-olds: How much sleep do they need and how long do they nap?
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommended that 1 to 2 years of age should sleep 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health. They usually take one nap a day, occurring in mid-day. Each nap should be around 1.5 to 2 hours long. They can comfortably stay up for approximately six hours during their wake window at this point.
2-year-old sleep schedule
If your toddler is still sleeping in the morning, try to get them up for the day around 7 a.m. and then offer them a nap at about 9:30 a.m.
A study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics stated that midday naps support learning in preschool children who habitually nap.
Review this as a sample schedule as sleep needs vary by child.
3-year-olds: How much sleep do they need and how long do they nap
3 years old sleep needs change rapidly. Sometimes they’ll take a nap and sometimes they won’t. And sometimes they’ll wake up early and sometimes they’ll sleep in. But you want to make sure they’re getting enough sleep every day. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends 10 to 13 hours of sleep every day in a 24-hour period. A nap should no longer be more than 90 minutes. There should be 1-1.5 hours of sleep during naptime.
3-year-old sleep schedule
Review this as a sample schedule as sleep needs vary by child.
12:45- 2:00 Pm
How to help your baby transition from napping
Provide quiet rest time
Making the nap transition smoother for your little one can be as simple as providing some quiet rest time before putting them down for a nap. This gives them a chance to wind down and prepare for sleep. You can try reading a book together, singing a lullaby, or just spending some calming time together. Once they seem sleepy, it will be easier to lay them down and have them drift off. They will be able to calm down and regain energy so that they can stay active during the daytime.
Consistent bedtime routine
A regular bedtime routine signals to your baby that it is time to wind down and go to sleep. This can help your baby fall asleep more easily and sleep for longer periods at night. The American Academy of Pediatrics stated in their new guidelines that Consistency also is key when adjusting to a sleep schedule.
To create a consistent bedtime routine for your baby, choose a bedtime that works for your family and stick to it as much as possible. You can also start the bedtime routine by bathing your baby, dimming the lights, reading a story, or singing a lullaby. Whatever you do, make sure it is calming and relaxing for your baby.
Try gradually pushing back their nap time
If your child is napping too close to bedtime, it can make it harder for them to fall asleep at night. To avoid this, you can try gradually pushing back their nap time. This will give them time to wind down and get sleepy before they have to take a nap, making the transition smoother. You can start by pushing back their daily nap by 15 minutes, and then increasing the interval by 15 minutes each day until they are no longer napping. When you are transitioning to nap time, it’s best to offer it at about the same time each day.
Get them the right sleepwear
One way to help your baby know it’s time for bed is to put them in a cozy sleep sack. The warmth and snugness of the sleep sack cues your baby’s brain that it’s time to sleep, helping them get a good night’s rest. Sleeping in a comfortable, soft sleeper can help soothe your baby and encourage them to sleep for longer periods.
Sunshine Billingual’s gently weighted Zen Sack® is designed to calm and comfort like a parent’s embrace, so it’s a great way to help babies transition from napping and sleep through the night. The weighted center of the sleep sack applies gentle pressure to make babies feel relaxed and safe. Most parents report that their babies sleep longer within 1 to 3 nights. For best results, use Sunshine Billingual’s sleep sack as part of a solid, predictable nighttime routine.
Most toddlers stop taking naps by the time they are three years old. However, some toddlers may still need naps when they are four years old. If your toddler is still taking naps, it is important to make sure that they are not napping too late in the day. Naps should be taken early in the afternoon so that your toddler will be able to sleep through the night.
- 3 years is the normal age when toddlers usually stop taking naps. Switching from a morning nap to a single, extended afternoon nap is the goal.
- If your child is having difficulty falling asleep during naptime or bedtime and waking up too early, then it’s a sign that your child is ready to stop napping.
- When a 2 to 3 year-old toddler stops taking naps, they must get 11-13 hours of sleep every day in 24 hours.
- The best way to transition kids away from naps is to provide them with a quiet rest period at a set time; where they have some downtime to relax and recharge before getting back to playing and learning.
FAQS about toddlers nap time
How much daytime sleep do toddlers need when they stop taking naps?
When toddlers stop taking naps they usually need between 11 and 14 hours of sleep in 24 hours. This includes nighttime sleep and daytime sleep. Daytime sleep can be in the form of a short nap or simply resting quietly for a few minutes.
Is it necessary to have quiet rest time after a toddler stops taking naps?
It is beneficial for toddlers to have some downtime after they wake up from a nap, to wind down and transition into the rest of their day. Rest periods give your child’s body and mind an opportunity to relax and recharge. A “quiet time” routine also comes in handy if they’re in a school or daycare where naps are still part of the schedule.
How will my toddler’s nighttime sleep be affected when they stop napping?
As your toddler stops napping, you may find that their nighttime sleep is affected. They may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep through the night. You may also find that they wake up earlier in the morning. While it can be tough to adjust to these changes. Establish a bedtime routine and stick to it as much as possible. This will help your toddler know when it’s time to wind down and go to sleep.
Should I move my toddler’s earlier afternoon nap to an earlier one in the morning?
Your toddler may not be ready for this change and may need some time to adjust. Additionally, naps are important for toddlers and can help them stay refreshed and focused throughout the day. If you do decide to move your toddler’s afternoon nap to an earlier time in the morning, be sure to do so gradually and keep an eye on how your toddler is adjusting.
Do daytime naps affect nighttime sleep for toddlers?
Afternoon naps can have a negative effect on children’s nighttime sleep. Daytime napping can delay your child’s ability to fall asleep3, leaving them with less sleep overall. While it may be tempting to let your child nap so they can stay up later, it’s important to keep in mind that it will only lead to them being more exhausted and less likely to fall asleep when they need to.