Toddler Giving Up Naps?

Toddler Giving Up Naps?

I've just spent the best part of an hour trying to coax my almost three-year-old into taking a nap. That's 60 minutes of mind-bending stress and misery all over a snooze which might – if I'm lucky – last 45 minutes. Madness.

I know it's not yet midday but I'm going to confess to having wondered if a small G&T would be overly indulgent once she finally dropped off. (Don't worry, I settled for a cuppa and a chocolate digestive instead.)

But man, it's hard going when your toddler drops their daytime nap, isn't it?!

I read a story, I sang Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star ad nauseum for what felt like hours, I begged, I pleaded, I stroked her hair, I tried being stern. I even issued threats and then, e-v-e-n-t-u-a-l-l-y, I rocked her to sleep in my arms just like I used to when she was a tiny baby and then she finally collapsed, worn out from defiant crying and general stubbornness.

Then the even harder work began. I made stealth manoeuvres whilst trying to wriggle free from her tiny toddler-sized bed without her noticing me leaving. (And oh how I wished I'd kept up with squats at the gym.) I successfully avoided the creaky floorboard. (And yes, I high-fived my reflection in her bedroom mirror after pulling that off.) I ducked down out of her line of sight so she wouldn't scream blue murder if her eyes shot open and she twigged I was making my exit. I held my breath incase that woke her. I winced (silently of course) when my son chose that very moment to start reloading a noisy Nerf gun right outside her bedroom door. And then I collapsed in a heap on the hallway floor, triumphant in battle but utterly spent.

All that, and chances are she'll be wide awake again by the time I've finished writing this.

Thanks to the fact that she has two elder brothers, I remember this whole dropping-the-daytime-nap stage of toddlerhood well. I don't remember how I survived it, mind.

I can only only hope that once she starts going to nursery in the mornings she might be so exhausted by lunch time that she'll stop fighting the afternoon nap. Because I know she still NEEDS one. Yes, she can technically get through the day without a daytime sleep and yes, that days where she doesn't take a nap make for remarkably easy (and early) bedtimes. But oh, the misery that seems to descend on her midway through the afternoon after a few nap-free days.

I've been frantically googling for tips for surviving the stage of toddlerhood when your previously happy napper starts going all nap-resistant, and here's about the sum of the advice I can find

1. Nap-resistant criers might actually be overtired, not ready to give up napping altogether. It's a vicious circle, this one but in my case I'm sure the past few days of no naps are in part what made it harder for her to fall asleep today yet it was obvious - from the meltdown she had over being denied a snack bar in front of the TV - that she NEEDED to take a nap.

2. Consider changing your nap venue if your toddler suddenly starts resisting nap time. So instead of heading for the bedroom once nap time rolls around, try cuddling up together on the sofa or even making a snoozy den. I'm not even going to attempt this one cos I reckon once my daughter clocks that she's wearing down my resolve around anything to do with nap time she will all but sink me.

3. Ride out the storm as best you can, quit trying to understand it, and drink more gin.

But we'd love to hear your tips and tricks for surviving this stage of toddlerhood. What's your advice for anyone worn out by a daily battle over nap time? Leave us a comment below or join the conversation over on our Facebook page.

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  • Butterflysundae

    My toddler actually gave up her daytime nap at around 2.5 years, coinciding with around the time that she started preschool two mornings a week, which was also the time I expected her to be more tired! 

    One thing I have learnt is that we never really figure them out, we think we have and then they do something else which throws us.

    She very rarely naps now and I think the thing I have learnt most of all is that it really isn't worth the stress (for her or me) of battling her for an hours nap and so now I mostly leave her be and look forward to my longer evenings! The only time she naps now is when she is really really tired, and again, I just go with it and let her sleep if she needs to! On the days when she doesn't (which is most days now), I try and not plan much from about 4 onwards and then we can just relax at home, which sometimes is the next best thing to a nap!

    • Anits52

      my now 5 year old stopped napping at 18 months my 2 year old has just stopped. If that is what they want/ need why not. I don't stop my 2 yr old from napping and if he is tired or on a long journey he does (my eldest will too if she wants) works ok for me. You just need them to work it out for themselves. I hate when I force myself to bed for an early start and if anything it stresses me more why would I do that to my child. 

      • safesound

        I forced my little boy to nap until he was about 3 as he really needed them but I really regret it as it was nearly a year of constant battling not only in the day but at night too. I let him drop them when he started nursery in the morning (okay I admit I was hoping he would be so tired he would fall asleep himself, he didn't) and he has been much happier with an early bedtime but even though he's now four and a bit he still has the habit of waking in the night which I assume was brought on from the continued napping in the day affecting his sleep pattern. Argh honestly I wish they came with a user manuel.