Should my Child Drop his Afternoon Nap?
Today I want to talk about signs that it may be time for your child to stop taking their afternoon nap. I know that’s a sad day for a lot of parents. Trust me, I’ve been there twice! Look for these signs to indicate that your child does not need that afternoon nap any longer.
The problem is that most children will happily take their afternoon nap. They will seem tired and they’ll go down well.
They will sleep for a good two-hour nap but the problem arises at bedtime where they are just not tired enough at 7:00 PM to settle in for the night. What tends to happen then is that there’s a lot of game playing going on at bedtime. Their bedtime ends up happening at 9 or even 10 pm for some.
I can remember with my own children, they would be happily singing and having a little party in their cot but this would go on for an hour or more every night.
Then they would wake up tired the next morning, in need of their afternoon nap, party until 9:00 PM and this whole cycle just continued. For me, it made better sense to ditch the daytime nap and and just put the baby to sleep consistently at 7:00 PM.
Some prefer the break during the day
For me, that was the way I preferred it. I liked having my evening free. However, I have had clients who tell me, “You know what? I don’t mind if she goes to bed a little later in the evening. I really enjoy that little break in the day.”
It’s perfectly fine to keep the afternoon nap. I’ve also had clients who their child aged three, three and a half, and are still happily taking an afternoon nap. You just need to know then that bedtime is going to be a little bit later.
By later I mean 8:00 PM, maximum 8:30 PM so try not to go any later than that. That’s absolutely fine, but when you do decide that it’s time to end that daytime nap, do things 100 percent. I find that the body clock has an easier time falling in line with consistency rather than sometimes she naps and other days she doesn’t. That is going to affect the bedtime as well. Then sometimes she’s going down at 7:00 PM, other times later. It will confuse her system and result in chaos for the entire family.
Once you’ve made the decision, just go for it. The nap is gone. What I suggest you do instead, is something I call quiet time.
You would still engage her in nap time activity in her bedroom. Something quiet like maybe looking at some books or doing some coloring, playing with some cars, building with Legos, whatever games for babies that are enjoyable for your child. And, the best part is that you can check out some of these stores right here on MumsVillage! Just click HERE.
Get her to bed up with that. Then say, “Mummy’s going to go and have a cup of tea. I’ll come back for you when quiet time is over.” I find it helpful to set a timer. Maybe give her 30 minutes or so of independent play.
I find that just that little break in the day where she’s got some time to be on her own and do a quiet activity and have a break from you can be enough to take that edge off a bit. You’re not having a late afternoon meltdown as she is transitioning out of this nap. Also, keep in mind it takes the body a good four weeks to adjust to a significant change in how we’re sleeping.
What you should expect:
You should expect that for four weeks you might have some rough days where she’s pretty tired and maybe a bit cranky in the afternoon but push through that. Even if it’s a bit of a tough slog some days, just know that once her body has adjusted to this she’s going to have lots of stamina to make it through the day.Is this information useful to you and your family? I would love to hear your feedback regarding your sleep routine. And remember sleep is part of healthy living.
Read more on Judy Clark’s Blog.
Editor’s Note: Judy is coming soon to meet Kenyan parents here in Nairobi and answer all your questions regarding sleep. Comment in the box below if you’d like a chance to meet her in person!