What To Do When Your Toddler Stops Napping Every Day

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At some point, your child will stop consistently napping every day. Learn what to do about inconsistent napping for 2-5 year olds.

Child awake in bed not napping

I have some news for you. It might come as good news, but it might come as bad news. I always give it to you straight, so here it is.

At some point, your child will stop napping every single day.

And that point might come sooner than you think.

This is what I often call the inconsistent napper. 

What Age is Normal To Not Nap Every Day?

It seems to start somewhere as a two year old–but it is rather rare for the two year old.

In other words, it is normal for a 2 year old to have days when he just doesn’t sleep during nap time.

Every so often, the child will just not take a nap.

That is good news if you are stressed out about this happening. It is normal and nothing to stress about and there is no need to panic.

Why is it bad news? Because we all like nap time! Don’t worry, there are things to do in place of nap time. Read more about that below.

2 Year Old Nap Patterns

Your typical two year old will have 1-2 days a week with no nap.

But it shouldn’t happen every day or even every other day. If it happens frequently at age 2, you will want to do some nap troubleshooting.

On the days your 2 year old does not nap, you will probably have a cranky toddler.

It is wise to end the day with a slightly earlier bedtime (30 minutes should suffice). 

3 Year Old Nap Patterns

As a three year old, this inconsistent napping starts to happen more frequently.

I have never noticed a predictable pattern with my kids, but it does start off with maybe once a week, but by age four, naps happen as often as they don’t it seems.

So expect that over the course of the year, your 3 year old will sleep less and less often for nap time.

4 Year Old Nap Patterns

As a four year old, naps slowly start to happen even less often.

Some preschoolers officially move to rest time as a four year old. Brayden didn’t do that until he was 5.25; Kaitlyn was somewhere as a four year old.

McKenna and Brinley were both 4 year olds.

I have a post full of information on this topic of when the nap gets dropped. Read it here:

When Do Kids Stop Napping

5 Year Old Nap Patterns

As a five year old, the child naps every so often during rest time. It is a foil of a two year old. The two year old doesn’t nap every once in a great while; the five year old does nap every once in a great while. 

What To Do When Your Child Won’t Nap

Now that you are assured this is a normal cycle to not nap every day, you might wonder what you do about it. Let’s break this down by age.

2 Year Old Who Doesn’t Nap

As a two year old, I put the child down for a nap every single day unless there is some great reason not to. For example, if we are out of town or when we were at church, there wouldn’t be a nap.

If we were home, the toddler went down for a nap.

Nap time length also lasted the same, normal length of time whether the child slept or not.

Relaxing in bed is better than being out being overstimulated. Toddlers can get overstimulated, so we have to be careful of that.

>>>Read: Overstimulation for Toddlers

The two year old is very sensitive to missing naps and probably can’t miss more than one, maybe two, in a week without having a meltdown.

Do not let a crying toddler fool you. A toddler crying or protesting nap time does not mean the toddler is ready to drop the nap for good.

>>>What to Do When Your Toddler Cries at Nap Time

3 Year Old Who Doesn’t Nap

As a three year old, I still continue having the child nap every single day unless there is as good reason not to. When the child is closer to three, the reason needs to be pretty compelling.

So far as how long to be in bed if not actually napping, I stick with the length of a normal nap, but naps do shorten in this year from the two year old length.

In other words, the 3 year old total nap length will be shorter than the 2 year old total nap length.

As the child gets closer to four, it can be something as simple as nice weather outside.

There were plenty of times I let my 3 year olds play outside through nap time and just skip it.

I remember one April day Brayden and Kaitlyn were having a lot of fun playing with each other and it was Brayden’s last day of Spring Break from school, so I didn’t put 3 year old Kaitlyn down for a nap.

If you do this with a 3 year old, you cannot have a later-than-normal bedtime and will likely need an earlier-than-normal bedtime.

By bedtime, Kaitlyn was tired and wanted to go to bed.

Also, as a caution, don’t skip naps too often.

Once a week is probably okay. Twice might even be fine if you let about three days between.

How often your kiddo can skip naps and maintain grace and obedience will depend on the individual.

>>>Read: Preschoolers and Naps

4 Year Old Who Doesn’t Nap

For the four year old, I still continue to have a nap every single day unless there is a pretty good reason not to.

At age four, it is typically often a “rest time” rather than a “nap time”.

As a four year old, I started to shorten the amount of time the child to stay in bed if a nap isn’t going to happen.

I cut Brayden’s to an hour as a four year old. If he napped, he slept for about two hours, but I would check on him at one hour and if he was awake, I would let him get up. 

5 Year Old Who Doesn’t Nap

As a five year old, Brayden moved to rest time and we moved the length back to 30 minutes.

If he did fall asleep, I didn’t let him sleep longer than 1.5 hours or else he would have a hard time falling asleep that night.

If we had family visiting, we were visiting family, we were on vacation, or we were having a rare nice weather day, I didn’t require rest time; however, that 30 minutes is great for taking a breather and great for some rejuvenation, so it is still highly valuable on a regular basis.

Conclusion

Sometime as a two-year-old, your child will most likely start boycotting sleep every so often for a nap–this is the beginning of the weaning process from a nap.

It is a weaning process that takes a couple of years. Don’t take that first protest as a sign naps are done forever.

Try to not stress about missed naps and know your child is being normal.

Related Posts

This post originally appeared on this blog April 2011

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