Toddler Giving Up Naps?

Toddler Giving Up Naps?
3 September 2016

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.

TOPICS:   Parents


  • Laura L.

    Bar the odd occasion my 2 1/2 yo hasn't napped during the day for the best part of a year. He didn't resist. He just stopped. That was it. Other kids still nap? I feel robbed :persevere::persevere:

  • 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!

  • Clare W.

    My daughter turned 3 in the summer months and still naps daily. Some days are a little tricky for her to go down but there's no shifting her out of it. She would sleep for a good 1 - 1 1/2 hours if we let her but then she wouldn't sleep at night so we wake her after 45mins as we found is the right balance for her. I do wonder if she'll ever drop the day nap herself as she has had this nap for 20 months now. Watch this space I guess ......

  • Lauren J.

    My boy is 4. I want to do the opposite and cut out his naps. X

    • Linda S.

      our 4and half yr old will nap at any chance after about 4pm or earlier in the day if he goes in the car. He's generally in bed by 7pm and up at 7am... some kids use lots of energy during their awake times but I'd love him to last without a nap as he's cranky then when he wakes up & only a few hrs tl bedtime!

    • Lauren J.

      Yeah same with my boy. He gets so grumpy and irritable when he is tired. If he has a nap anytime before half 7, then we are done for. He will not go back down until at least 9/10. X

  • Samantha D.

    My son will be 3 at the end of November and still has a nap. If he doesn't he turns into terminator! Or he will want to go to bed at 5pm and scream and shout at us because we won't allow him to go to bed. It's a fine balance, he doesn't want to nap as playing is too much fun so we snuggle up on the sofa with a film after lunch and he usually drops off no problem.

  • Jaime Y.

    My eldest dropped her naps when she was nearly 2. I reintroduced them when she was 3 when I had her little sister so that we could all get a rest

  • Alison G.

    I'm lucky my now 5 and half year old still napped until he was nearly 3 my 27 month still naps for an hour and half / 2 hours every day and long may it last

  • Kim W.

    My son still NEEDS a nap but since we took the sides of his cot (why why?) he refuses. Unless I lie down with him and I am forced to nap as well! :joy:

  • Kali B.

    My son is great without naps and I don't struggle with it

  • Samantha K.

    My son will be 3 at the beginning of November and still naps for 2-2.5 hours a day, he then goes to bed at 8:30 and sleeps until around 7:30/8am

  • Rachel S.

    Our little girl is nearly 3 and a half And still naps for over an hour each day and then sleeps 7pm-8am sometimes doesn't wake until 830/9! Long may it last just hope her little brother does the same when he is three!! :kissing_heart:

  • Rachael W.

    My son gave up his nap when he just turned two and he's now nearly three and we have to avoid them at all costs as he won't go to bed at his usual 7pm bedtime if he does have one!

  • Lisa S.

    My son naps at nursery, but refuses to at home. The only way he may go to sleep is if we are out in the car. I try and time it so we get home as he's gone to sleep. Moving him is impossible, so both me and my son nap in the car on the drive. My neighbours must think I'm mad!

  • Carly W.

    Just had a little read thank you Hun xxxxxx

  • Iona M.

    My little girl stopped having naps just after her 1st birthday. She just stopped one week and hasn't since. She's now 2 and the only rare time she does sleep during the day is if she's in the car which would only be 20/30mins max. It didn't bother me when she stopped as I never napped with her I just got on with stuff. Although I get into trouble from her these days if I am being too noisy when her little sister(4 months old) is asleep during to the day :joy::joy:

    • Amelia A.

      Same my oldest is 8, all my children have been the same, I do miss how cute it was, one minute pulling all washing out basket, next minute snoring away upside down in the basket :)

    • Iona M.

      Hahaha yea my eldest would fall asleep on / doing almost anything it's was very adorable. Don't know why she just stopped it was so strange. But even when she did nap she would wake after an hour. She wouldn't sleep for long

    • Amelia A.

      I really don't know, there are positives (I keep telling myself lol)

  • Gill L.

    I don't think he'll cuddle in and sleep on sofa, he would get distracted by toys! The car and buggy work but I might try the cot again seeing as he's napping later in day. He used to go down in cot so well x

  • Ria H.

    not sure if this is helpful but rather amusing read xx

  • 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. 

  • Sadie W.

    . I hope ur little one is sleeping in her own room. But thought something from this may help. Prob won't but worth a gander. Xx

  • Priya P.

    Lol, , sound familiar? :joy:

  • Nicola H.

    My daughter stopped having naps at 18 months! She is now nearly 3 and a half. If for whatever reason she did fall asleep for 15 minutes, I would pay for it by her not being able to sleep till 11pm! :joy::scream:. I find it fascinating that people have kids of 2/3/4 that still nap! I'm just jealous though! :joy::joy:

    • Jade R.

      Same here. If she doesn't have a nap she's settled by 7. If she does have a nap, no matter for how long it'll be 10 ish x

    • Nicola H.

      Jade Rowe same here, 7.30 and sleeps through till 9am! X

  • Karen M.

    My daughter stopped napping when my 2nd was born she's almost 3. It's been a killer not getting a nap

  • Terri G.

    All will be restored again today!x

  • Hannah S.

    I've started just putting him his cot and letting him cry a bit. Lol im not ready for naps to go I like my 2 hours to myself x

  • Lisa A.

    My son is 22 months and still has naps he can't do without one he gets tired in the afternoon even if we're out he'll have at least an hour and a half some days or just an hour.x

  • Joanne J.

    still trying to get him to sleep now xxx

  • Lisa K.

    We encouraged our kids not to sleep in the day

  • 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.

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