Jul 22, 2007

When Should Your Preschooler Lose His Nap?

Some of my friends say their two-year-olds are ready to give up their nap because they refuse to go to down. So I did a little research and learned that most toddlers aren't ready to give up their naps until they're about four years old (and certainly not before age three). That said, there are several ways you can try to get a resistant toddler/preschooler to go to sleep:
  • Try to schedule naptime at the same time every day - with children who nap once a day, after lunch is a good time. A consistent routine will help the transition to sleep.
  • Have your child sleep in the same place as he sleeps at night, since he already associates that place with sleeping. Alternatively, Dr. Sears suggests you can create a "nap nook," since your child may be more receptive to napping in a special "retreat."
  • Use a shortened version of bedtime for naptime. Whether it's reading, singing or something else that you do at bedtime, doing it at naptime will cue your child that it's time for sleep.
  • Another way to get your child to sleep is to take a stroller walk or go for a drive, though this only works if your child makes the transfer to her bed. (My son doesn't so this one would never work for us. And I'm sure sleep training experts are cringing madly at this suggestion but sometimes you just have to do what works.)
  • With an older toddler/preschooler, you may want to consider foregoing the nap and moving bedtime earlier.
  • When your child is ready to give up her nap, consider instituting "quiet time," or as one of our preschool teachers called it, "rest your body time." Your child can just lie in bed, or sit on her bed or in her room and read books or do some other quiet activity for an hour, while you get a chance to recharge for the rest of the day.
And in case you were wondering, you can find Babycenter's "How much sleep does your child need?" chart for ages two through eight here. The chart for babies is here.

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