Monday, September 21, 2009

Dropping Naps: Moving to Rest Time

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I am sure that dropping the one nap of the day is bitter-sweet. On the one hand, the break time is nice for everyone :). On the other hand, your child is growing up (or is that on both hands?). It gives you a lot more freedom to get out and do things. As in all things, there are good and bad points associated with dropping the one nap of the day.

But at what point do you do this? On Becoming Preschoolwise states that dropping this nap starts around four years of age, though it greatly depends on the sleep needs of individual children (page 100). Some children start this at age three; others wait until closer to five.

Dropping this nap is very, very different from all of the other naps you have dropped in your child's life. It isn't dropped by dropping feedings like when your child was an infant. It isn't slowly dropped over a couple of weeks, or dropped cold turkey like the third and first naps. The idea that dropping naps is a weaning process greatly applies to dropping this nap.

Over time, your child will stop sleeping during this nap some days. As time passes, he will sleep during this time less and less, until he sleeps less often than he does sleep. At this point, you are really having rest time rather than nap time. On Becoming Preschoolwise says that the process of transitioning from nap time to rest time takes six months to one year (page 101).

THE PROCESS
On Becoming Preschoolwise has tips for this process (pages 100-101). You essentially tell your child to lay in bed--he may not leave bed. He can have a couple of books to look at. You tell him if he feels sleepy, he should sleep. If he does fall asleep, no matter what time, you wake him at his normal wake up time. If he does not fall asleep, you might need to put him to bed 30 minutes early.

SIBLINGS
If your children share a room, have the child who is transitioning out of nap time and to rest time in a separate room (your room, family room, etc.)

IN ACTIONOur process has been a bit different than described in Preschoolwise. First, it kind of started around three, not four.

At three, Brayden started sleeping less and less, but his disposition after a missed nap told me he wasn't ready to not be taking naps. I had him sleep in my room since his room overlooked the road, where he had lots to look at instead of sleep. That helped a lot. Naps went back to happening most days.

Then the real process started around 3.5 years old. An overall difficulty for us is that Brayden really does not like to sleep. Kaitlyn has always loved it, but Brayden does not. You can't tell him to sleep if he needs it; according to him, he never needs it :)

He is really good about staying in his bed. We had our battle at 3.5, but he is good. I had to teach him to tell time so he would stay in bed and not get up to check if it was time to get out. Now he has his books and his clock and he stays in bed.

He now doesn't take a nap most days (he is four years and three months old). He takes a nap about 3 days a week. I recently tried shortening his time in bed, but it didn't go well. He needs his time in there to decompress and just relax.

We are definitely on our way to having no naps, but we are not there yet. It has been a long process and will continue on for many more months to come, I am sure. For now, it is called naptime. As he can handle it, we will shorten it and have official rest time until he no longer needs that to make it through the day happily and obediently :)

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29 comments:

Tanya Hebert said...

Thanks so much for this post. It helps me immensely right now!

Angela said...

Great post! My oldest son is 3 1/2 and still takes a 1 1/2 hour to 2 hour nap every day, even on two days a week he goes to preschool. I don't look forward to that ending, but I know he will love rest time b/c he loves to read and play quietly with his "friends." :)

mamanickles said...

How long does Brayden stay in bed for now?

PlageFille said...

Couple of Ideas: If your child is having trouble learning to read a clock then you can use a timer. I set it for 90 minutes and she stays until it goes off. We also play Books on CD while she has her rest time.

Kristy Shreve Powers said...

This post is helpful--thank you. PlageFille, thanks for the good ideas, too. I think I'll try the books on CD today.

Plowmanators said...

You are welcome Tanya!

Plowmanators said...

Angela, you have a good sleeper!

Plowmanators said...

Mamanickles, right now he is in bed for 1.5-2 hours. I tried taking it back to one hour because that seems really long to me to sit there and be in bed. But he got so onery in the evening. So for now, that is what he does. I will keep trying periodically to take it back to one hour, then eventually 30-45 minutes if he can. He seems to need the time to decompress.

Plowmanators said...

Good idea PlageFille!

Plowmanators said...

You are welcome Kristy!

The Devines said...

Hi! My son is 26mths and we've been doing BW since day one. He sleeps from 7:30pm-7:00am with naptime at 1pm. His meals are at 7, noon, 5:30 with snack at 10am. In the last two months, for about 3 naps a week he will lie in bed, talk for 20 minutes and then start crying, followed by screaming that can last an hour. At which point I will either walk him in the stroller or drive in the car. At which point he will always go down.
When he does have naps in bed, they can often last 3 hours. This seems too long. Should I be waking him? If so when? Before this problem, he would nap 1.5-2hrs.
Possible causes to the problem may include: a) his second big molar coming in. b) he now has a 3 mth old baby sister. (which makes it difficult to do the walking/driving thing).
Any advice would be so appreciated. Thanks!

Plowmanators said...

Devines,

One thing I would do is stop helping him to fall asleep.

3 naps is definitely not too long for a nap at that age, and is actually pretty average.

You might need to re-do a CIO situation here so he goes back to sleeping on his own. You also might consider adjusting waketime length.

Rachel said...

I am the (very) full time nanny of two little girls, one is 2.5 (D) and one (Z) will be 4 at the end of March. I am at a loss as to what to do for naptime for the D (2.5).

A little backstory: Z stopped napping about a month ago. She still does quiet time in her room some days, but often she is at an activity or class while D is supposed to be napping. The dropping of the nap for Z (accidentally) coincided with D getting rid of her pacifier. They both preschool five days a week from 9 AM until 12 PM. D has always slept 12-13 hours at night and taken a 3-4 hours nap at 2 PM. She has always been a great nighttime and naptime sleeper, and we often have to wake her at 5:30 PM (she will still turn around and go back to bed at 7 or 7:30 PM).

After losing the pacifier, D napped well for about a week (because she was waking in the night and was exhausted). However the past 3 or so weeks she has not taken a single good nap. She talks to herself, kicks the wall, and yells (not crying, just yelling) for over an hour, then often falls asleep (at this point it is usually 4 PM) so late that I have to wake her up because it is dinner time. I have tried moving the time of her nap around. I tried 2 full week of a schedule overhaul (instead of school, lunch, play, nap at 2, I tried school, straight home for lunch, nap at 12:30). She still won't nap. I am confident she still needs the nap, as she seems tired at noon when I pick her up at school and again at 1:30 or 2 when it is her naptime. If she does not go down for nap at all and we stay out playing, she is a complete disaster by 4 PM. If I put her down for nap but she just plays and talks for an hour then I get her up, she is equally grumpy. If I leave her in there the entire naptime but she does not sleep, she is less grumpy but tired by 6 or 6:30 PM (because she got some downtime I assume she does not completely lose it). I have tried all different naptimes thinking I am missing the window where she is tired but not overtired, and nothing seems to work. She gets plenty of stimulation and exercise and has a healthy diet - she does not get any sugar before naptime.

I am not sure what to do. My instinct is that she is having trouble settling herself to sleep without the pacifier, though at nighttime she is fine. I will say, however, since I am the nanny, I do not know if she is sleeping at night or sometimes if she talks to herself through the night. The parents cannot hear her from there room and they do not have a monitor, so nighttime sleep is a bit of a mystery. They would hear her if she cried, though. Perhaps she just needs no nap and an earlier bedtime? Or maybe she needs quiet time but not a nap everyday? I just do not want to put books in her bed and start that habit if she is overtired and having trouble settling, versus needing down time but no nap. 2.5 seems young to me for a kid to go from needing 15+ hours a sleep per day to only 12! On the other hand, 2+ hours in bed not sleeping makes me feel so mean, as does waking her up when she has just fallen asleep (despite it being 5 or 6 pm!).

Thank you in advance for your help!

SmlTwnLdy said...

Exactly what I needed to know a while after you wrote it! Thanks for being my electronic cliffs notes for Babywise.

Plowmanators said...

Rachel,

She definitely still needs to nap--though it wouldn't be totally odd if she didn't nap every so often.

I agree with you that she likely isn't sleeping well because of the pacifier.

So one option is to let her have it for sleeping but never out of the bed.

The other option is to just wait it out for her to finally learn how to sleep without it.

I wouldn't feel bad about her being in bed awake. Resting in bed--even if awake--is better than up and playing. Her little body and her mind need to rest, not to mention her emotions.

So I would stick with naptime and reconsider the pacifier.

Plowmanators said...

lol! I like that SmlTwnLdy--cliffsnotes to babywise :)

Richard and Kristen said...

My daughter is a little over 4 1/2 yrs old. I wake her up every morning at 7:15 am. She lays down for a nap every day (except Sundays) at 1:00 pm and then I always wake her at 2:00 pm, so she'll go to bed on time at night. She goes to bed at 8:15 pm and usually falls asleep between 8:35-9:00 pm. On Sundays there is no nap and she goes to bed at 7:45 pm. (falling asleep usually within 15 mins) She has been doing this schedule for over a year, which I remember the books saying the graduation from some till none would take anywhere from 6 to 12 months. I kindof feel like it's out of habit that she naps and am wondering if it would be better for her to be getting the 45 minutes or so added to her night time sleep by going to bed early through the week. I also feel like she might naturally never taper off her naps on her own as she never doesn't fall asleep at nap time. By the way, I am always waking her from her sleep whether it be a nap or night time sleep.

Thank you, Kristen

Plowmanators said...

Kristen,

Some children need naps even older than that.

I would suggest you do naps some days and not naps other. Maybe start with naps two days, then no nap one. And so forth.

One potential issue I see is that you still want to do about 30 minutes rest time and she will likely fall asleep during that time.

Rebecca said...

Thanks so much for your blog, I've done bw with both of my children since birth and your blog has been so helpful! I have a 3 year, 3 month old boy who was a great sleeper since about 9 months old till about 2.5. Around 2.5 we moved states, had Daddy home for a month, he had major constipation issues that affected sleep, and we had our second child. Through all this his night sleep did not change thankfully, but his naps have been affected. Regardless of whether he sleeps he stays in bed 2 hours from 2-4 (sometimes 1:30-4). If he falls asleep for his nap he will sleep 2.5-3 hours, but this now only happens about once a week. So in 6 months he went from sleeping 3+ hours every nap to not taking most naps. My question is, do you think he's getting enough sleep if he gets about 12 hours at night and then doesn't nap? Should I try an earlier bedtime in hopes he will get more nighttime sleep?

Rebecca said...

Thanks so much for your blog, I've done bw with both of my children since birth and your blog has been so helpful! I have a 3 year, 3 month old boy who was a great sleeper since about 9 months old till about 2.5. Around 2.5 we moved states, had Daddy home for a month, he had major constipation issues that affected sleep, and we had our second child. Through all this his night sleep did not change thankfully, but his naps have been affected. Regardless of whether he sleeps he stays in bed 2 hours from 2-4 (sometimes 1:30-4). If he falls asleep for his nap he will sleep 2.5-3 hours, but this now only happens about once a week. So in 6 months he went from sleeping 3+ hours every nap to not taking most naps. My question is, do you think he's getting enough sleep if he gets about 12 hours at night and then doesn't nap? Should I try an earlier bedtime in hopes he will get more nighttime sleep?

Rachel Norman said...

Hi Rebecca, I hope she responds.

My 24 month old has started taking 1-2 hours to go to sleep, if she does, and will then sleep 2-3 hours so I know she needs it. There are no toys in her crib and nothing new happening (except perhaps teething but I can't see them) but it drives me crazy. I work then so her not sleeping (way before the 4 year mark) is tough. I don't want to move her to a toddler bed while this is happening for fear she'll never sleep again. Can I treat this as a discipline issue?

Rachel Norman said...

Hi Rebecca, I hope she responds.

My 24 month old has started taking 1-2 hours to go to sleep, if she does, and will then sleep 2-3 hours so I know she needs it. There are no toys in her crib and nothing new happening (except perhaps teething but I can't see them) but it drives me crazy. I work then so her not sleeping (way before the 4 year mark) is tough. I don't want to move her to a toddler bed while this is happening for fear she'll never sleep again. Can I treat this as a discipline issue?

Caitlin Roberts said...

My son is 3 years and 10 months old. Around 3.5 he consistently stopped falling asleep during nap time. On days he didn't fall asleep, I moved his bed time from 8 to 7:30 since he couldn't seem to make it until 8. But recently he's begun consistently waking up at 6 instead of 6:30 or 7. So I moved his bed time back to 8 thinking he'd adjusted to not having naps anymore, but he's still up at 6! I usually put him back and say "it's not wake up time" until 6:30, but this is not going well because he says he's hungry, which I believe because I wake up ravenous too, or he says he's cold, or he's just plain completely awake and bored sitting in his bed.

Perhaps the early waking and disobedience getting out of bed is a sign of something else- I've been gone a couple evenings a week for work lately and when I come back he seems mad at me and doesn't want to give me a hug. That could be nothing but it makes me think he's threatened by me being gone. I don't know if that only affects him because something else is amiss though.

Anyway, is there any way to get him to start sleeping until 6:30 or 7 again? And is the whining in the morning a sign that he's still sleepy but has just learned that gets him out of bed but he still needs to sleep more? What can I do besides repeatedly put him back to bed until the official wake up time?

Caitlin Roberts said...

OOps forgot to click the "follow up via email" button. Clicking it now...

Valerie Plowman said...

Hi Caitlin,

If he gets out of bed at rest time, then your problem is that he is deciding when he gets up rather than you deciding. If he doesn't have rest time, definitely have that each day.

I would make sure he never gets to stay out of bed when he gets up early. I would suggest a clock that changes color when it is okay for him to get up. Have a consequence for getting out of bed before it is time. Consistency is key on this. Good luck!

Caitlin Roberts said...

Hi Valerie,

We do rest time every day for about 90 minutes- and he never gets to stay out when he comes out. My real problem here is the 6 am wake time- Is 8 pm to 6 am a normal sleep duration for an almost four year old? That seems really early to me...

The disobedience I was referring to is the continual getting out of bed at 6 am or even earlier some times. When I put him back in bed his reaction seems like something more than just being upset that he can't get out of bed yet. It's like he's lonely.

I like the idea of the clock that changes color when it's time to get up. Thank you! Ideas about sleeping longer in the morning will be appreciated as well- if that's even possible! Are you thinking that if he knows he can't get out of bed until a certain time that he can discern (such as the different color on the clock) then he'll begin to sleep until then?

Valerie Plowman said...

A lot of times they will sleep longer. It is very helpful for them to wake up, see it isn't time to be up, and then just go back to sleep. If they have no indicator of it being time to get up or not, they can wake themselves up fully by wondering and then getting up. Do the clock first and see of that fixes things.

Alyssa Hulme said...

My son turned 3 in January. Even as recently as December he was taking three hour naps. He, very quickly, moved to 1.5 hour naps by the end of January. He is almost fully potty trained now 2 months later and the last 3 weeks has been having the hardest time falling asleep at night. He will call and call and cry for us, even getting up and claiming he needs to go potty (only goes half the time), and ends up not falling asleep for and hour and a half after bedtime. I think he is just not tired at his bedtime, 7:00, but it's possible potty training is messing with our normal routine. We've skipped naps the last few days and, I swear, he doesn't miss a beat. Not tired, grouchy, or even needing rest time. He and his sister did room time during his normal naptime and played perfectly politely together. Could his lack of tired/grumpiness mean he just doesn't need a nap? At the same time, I know if I DID put him down for a nap he would sleep. My daughter took 6 months to transition out of needing a nap, so this cold turkey business seems really odd. Should we wait it out and blame poor sleep on potty training, or ditch the naps and keep normal bedtime? Yesterday when we skipped a nap he went to bed fairly easily. He sleeps 12-13 hours at night, by the way. Always been an easy, big BW sleeper.

lilWill said...

Thanks for your post. It's very helpful! I'm still wondering about bedtime and how/if to move it when my 4 year old son doesn't take his nap. For a very long time his BT was 7:30. We pushed it to 8 slowly because he was waking up at 5:30am instead of 6:30. For awhile moving BT to 8pm caused him to sleep later (to 6:30AM), but for a week now he's been waking at 6:00, not 6:30. We're thinking it might be getting time to drop his nap. Are we right in thinking that? What else could it be? Any thoughts are very appreciated!

Mary

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