When do kids stop napping

You likely remember that when your child was a newborn he slept off and on throughout the day. As your baby became a little older, two daytime naps were enough, and then after a time he was just fine with one afternoon nap. But when do kids stop needing naps altogether?

Read on to find out when kids usually stop having naps, and what signs to look for that indicate that your child no longer needs that afternoon nap.

When Do Toddlers Stop Napping?

By around 12 months, some children give up their morning nap, and by 2 years most children are down to one nap of about two to three hours in the afternoon.

It's possible that around the time your child turns 3 years old, she may stop taking naps. By the time she's 5 you’re likely to see your child getting all of her sleep at night without the need for naps.

Keep in mind that every child is different. Even though most children stop napping between the ages of 3 and 5, your child may stop napping as young as 2 or as old as 6. There is no one specific “normal” age when your child is supposed to give up on naps.

The transition may not necessarily be linear either. Some days your child may need the nap; on other days, maybe not. The length of the afternoon nap also becomes shorter with time, so as your preschooler gets older the nap won’t necessarily need to be two or three hours long for your child to feel rested.

If You Have Twins

Interestingly, twins often give up naps sooner than single babies. And it’s not unusual for one twin to continue to nap even if the other doesn’t. For this reason, you may want to put them down for naps in separate rooms. The twin who doesn’t nap should be encouraged to have quiet time.

Read more about naptime and nap schedules here.

Signs Your Child Is Ready to Stop Napping

Your child will stop napping when she no longer needs these extra periods of rest to keep up her energy throughout the day. Here are some signs that your child is ready to stop napping:

  • Difficulty falling asleep during naptime. Instead of sleeping, your child may attempt to play or sing while lying down for naptime.

  • Difficulty falling asleep at bedtime. If your child is no longer sleepy enough at bedtime because of an earlier afternoon nap, it’s a sign that the napping is negatively impacting her nighttime sleep. The best strategy is to shorten the nap and not try to push her bedtime later.

  • Waking up early. If your child is waking up very early in the morning, it can be a sign that he wasn’t tired enough at night because of his afternoon nap. Try shortening or eliminating his afternoon nap to see if this has an impact.

  • Doesn’t appear sleepy on days without naptime. If you don’t notice yawns or low energy during the day, or irritability before bedtime, on those days when your child skips his afternoon nap, then your little one may be ready to stop napping altogether.

  • Not falling asleep at all during naptime. You may notice that during naptime your child continues to play or read without looking sleepy. This is a sure sign that the nap is no longer needed, especially if your child doesn’t become grouchy or irritable later in the day.

What Do You Do When Your Kid Stops Napping?

Once you start seeing the signs that it’s time to stop giving naptime altogether, it’s a good idea to encourage an hour of quiet time when the nap would usually take place. Quiet time serves as a transition period instead of just quitting naps abruptly. Good ideas for quiet time can include looking at a picture book, coloring in a coloring book, doing a puzzle, or playing with a plush toy. Avoid any activity that is noisy or too stimulating.

When your child first stops napping altogether, it may be a good idea to have an earlier bedtime to help her get used to the new setup. Make sure that your child’s bedtime routine is included in the timing. At this point your child will be getting between 10 and 12 hours of sleep at night, so to stay on track you may need to move bedtime up by 30 minutes, depending on the time she needs to wake up.

If you find that your child is sleepy or irritable during the day and wants to nap (even after having given up on naps already), it’s OK to let him do so. Remember, dropping naps isn’t necessarily a linear process — your child may still need naps from time to time even after a period of not needing them.

If your child’s daycare facility, preschool, or kindergarten has set naptimes but your child has already given up napping, ask that your child be allowed quiet time instead of forcing a nap.

The Bottom Line

Naps are important for a developing child, but there comes a time when napping simply falls away. Every child is different, but most kids drop their afternoon nap sometime between the ages of 3 and 5.

There are plenty of signs to look for that your child is ready to stop napping, such as not sleeping during naptime, having trouble falling asleep at nighttime, and waking up earlier than usual. If this is the case, your toddler or preschooler may not need naps anymore. If you're in doubt about your child's need for naps, or have any questions about napping or nighttime sleep, contact your child’s healthcare provider.

If you see that your child keeps up his energy levels during the day even without the nap, you can be almost certain that he’s outgrown napping! Take this as another reminder of your child’s ongoing development, and just how far you’ve both come since the exhausting newborn period.