"My daughter stopped her naps at 19 months," says Nicky. "I tried EVERYTHING to get her to lie down but she just wasn't having it. The end of freedom!"
Naps give both preschoolers and moms a much-needed break, say Circle of Mom members. So it's not surprising that permanently ending the afternoon nap is one of the tougher transitions young kids (and moms) go through.
Some Circle of Moms members say that nap time should be mandatory until a child goes to kindergarten. "If she misses one of her naps, my 2-year-old daughter tends to get cranky, bratty, and has a tendency for a meltdown," says Cathy P. Elizabeth B. agrees. "It can't be good for a preschooler to get less than their needed sleep," she says, and most kids crave the nap routine, even if they fight it. "Sleep does all sorts of healthy things for them, and not getting enough" sets them up for hehavioral problems and long term sleeping problems.
But many Circle of Moms insist that it's not that straightforward. When preschoolers take naps, they point out, bedtime tends to start later and the transition to night time sleep takes longer, both of which can be aggravating to moms and dads who are eager to get the whole family down for a good night's rest — and some alone time for themselves. As Rose C. explains, "Sure it is nice to have some quiet time during the day when there are loads of chores to do. But I won't be able to have a good rest at night."
Is There a Right Time to Stop the Nap?
All of this begs Circle of Moms member Alexandra S's question: How old should kids be when they stop taking naps? She also wonders how you go about transitioning out of nap time, once your child is ready. "My daughter is 21 months and refuses to take naps. And if by chance I do get her to nap, she won't go to bed at night. Is she too young to stop taking naps?"
Every family has to decide for themselves, says Dyan B., because "every kid is different." Her oldest ended his nap at the age of 5, and her second when he was just barely 2. She reports that "He was pretty grumpy, but I still couldn't get him to do it." And her third child, who is almost 3, is trying to transition out of naps, but often gets tired and will lay down for some quiet time without actually falling asleep.
Transitioning to "Rest Time"
The "just lay down, you don't have to nap," tactic that Dyan B. uses with him is one that's frequently employed by Circle of Moms members to ease the transition from nap to sleepless days. "We call it ‘rest time," says Mandy V. "We keep rest time in our daily schedule...until the youngest will be in kindergarten. This time is set aside for me to wind down. There are days where my 3-year-old still needs naps so it's easy to help encourage her to sleep since its still in our daily routine. I also have a kindergartener who [gets] rest time after school for 30 minutes. This is the same time the younger sisters (ages 2 and 3) have their rest time...For rest time they may play quietly alone or together in their rooms."
Jennifer B. is another big proponent of trying to coax a tired 3-year-old to at least rest. She uses TV time as rest time: "Some days, I can tell she's really tired and fighting it and I tell her she can watch TV for a few," she says. "Usually about 5 to 10 minutes into what she is watching, she falls asleep."
The Signs of Readiness
Many Circle of Mom members agree that when it truly is time to retire a nap, the signs are clear. Chatty M. knew her 19-month-old daughter was ready to transition from two naps to one when she noticed that she wasn't terribly tired at bedtime and "heard her playing in her crib (on the monitor) while she was supposed to be napping." She recommends keeping at least one nap until age 3, but "if you lose the nap, the bottom line for me is asking, ‘Is my daughter getting the proper amount of sleep in a 24 hour period? If I can answer yes then it shouldn't matter whether she has a nap or not. Remember, every child is different."
"Don't worry, your child will give you indications when he is ready to stop his naps," agrees Helen W. "Can he be up all day and not get groggy, or is rubbing his eyes all day?" And Nicky H. offers this: "Naps aren't worth stressing out about. My mom says my sister didn't nap for more than 35 minutes at a time ever, and she has a PhD, so there you go."
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.