When Do Kids Stop Napping? And What To Do Instead

When Do Kids Stop Napping. How to know when your toddler or child is old enough to stop taking naps. Know when it is time to drop that afternoon nap for good.

Preschool girl holding a stuffed animal as she sits on the bank of a creek

Some parents cannot wait for the day when their kids will be done with naps and stop napping altogether. They want afternoons more open and free to go out and do whatever they might feel like. They want the schedule more open.

Other parents really want to hold on to that nap for as long as possible. The afternoon nap is a nice, quiet time that the whole house can relax and get some rest. If you have younger children, the afternoon nap is a perfect time to have baby sleep and give mom some time to rest or get things done without interruption.

No matter your wishes or preferences as a parent, there are real sleep needs with toddlers and children.

All toddlers need time each afternoon to take a nap. They won’t always sleep, but they need the opportunity.

They also won’t always greet the nap schedule with open arms. Many fight against it. A toddler not wanting something does not mean a toddler does not need something.

When Do Kids Stop Napping

You won’t even consider dropping naptime altogether until you are down to just one daytime nap.

I do not recommend dropping the afternoon nap until your child is around four years old. Read my Dropping Naps Quick Guide for more details on this. I also have a lot of details specifically on dropping this afternoon nap. Read my post here: How to Know When Your Child is Ready to Stop Napping

Essentially, your child needs to be:

  • Old enough (around four years old)
  • Capable of being pleasant without a nap
  • Not napping most (or even all) days already
  • Not needing that sleep during the day and can get that sleep at night

Once your child is able to pass those four items, you can move to have your child stop taking naps.

Toddlers Still Need Naptime

Are you wondering when do toddlers stop napping?

Your toddler will most likely insist napping is not for her. I can’t tell you how many people tell me their children stopped napping at age two because the toddler just refused to take a nap.

If you have a toddler, you know toddlers refuse a lot of things. A favorite word of every toddler at some point is “no.”

Some 2-year-olds do love that nap schedule. They love to sleep and will willingly go to naps each time you tell them.

Most, however, will fight you on it and test that boundary. Your toddler might throw a fit when you announce it is nap time. Your toddler might get out of bed ten times after you put her down for a nap to test to see if you will stand your ground or let the nap slide.

Stand your ground! Your toddler still needs a nap most days of the week.

You should not let your toddler’s mood dictate your sleep schedule.

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

Even if your child naps only 2-3 days a week, continue to call it a “nap” until your child is closer to four and able to handle the freedom of knowing it is just a daily rest time.

Kids do not just stop napping one day. They slowly stop taking naps as frequently. This is completely normal. Daytime sleep cannot just be dropped suddenly without adding it all to nighttime sleep.

Dropping this afternoon nap is a long transition that starts as a 2-year-old and lasts until you have a 4-year-old.

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Have Daily Rest Time

Do not worry! Just like dropping that morning nap was actually a wonderful thing for your daily schedule and activities, dropping the afternoon nap is also a great moment in your nap schedule journey.

Once your child is done napping, you can go out in the afternoon when that is needed! Do you want to play at the park all afternoon? Go for it!

With that flexibility, you still want some daily consistency. You want to still have a daily quiet time, known as rest time.

Once your child is ready to stop napping, you do not say good-bye to that afternoon quiet time forever. You move on to rest time.

Logistics of a Daily Quiet Time for Your Child

Rest time is period of time each day that your child spends resting quietly in the bed. It gives your child the opportunity to recharge.

This is different from a nap because you and the child are both acknowledging sleep likely won’t happen. You give permission for the child to quietly look at books in bed.

The length of time for rest time will ideally be 30-60 minutes long. Some moms, especially homeschooling moms, will go even 90 minutes.

You do not want your child getting out of bed or playing quietly alone in the room with toys. Playing in the room alone with toys is Independent Playtime. Read all about there here: Independent Playtime Overview.

Rest Time is distinctly different from Independent Playtime.

Many moms find it works well to have a 30 minute rest time immediately followed by a 60-90 minute Independent Playtime.

That can work especially well if you have younger children asleep for their afternoon nap and you want a longer afternoon break all at once.

This also works well if you have a pregnancy going on and need a nice long rest in the afternoon to get through the day and make it until bedtime with grace! Read more on my post about How to Do Rest Time Instead of Naps:

Benefits of a Daily Quiet Time for Your Child

A great benefit of rest time each day is that you can have the child sleep if the child is tired and in need of a nap that day.

A child who is sick, fighting off sickness, having a growth spurt, or who simply had a really busy morning will often need a nap in the afternoon.

The child who has rest time each day will go to the bed and has a great chance of falling asleep for a brief nap.

Conversely, the child who is not used to rest time can end up fighting a rest time or nap time. Having consistent rest time allows your child to easily fall asleep on those days a nap is needed.

Some children will take a nap even into the child years, six and older, on some days. Others will leave the nap behind unless they are quite sick.

The point and benefit is you are providing the opportunity for sleep.

Children also often rarely slow down and just rest. They need time to rest and recharge. A child who has rest time each day will get the chance to let the body rest, even if he isn’t asleep. That provides benefits to your child.

I found rest time super helpful in the summer months when it was hot outside and kids are playing hard. A little break helps them take a breather, cool down, and drink some water (because we all know how thirsty kids get when it is time for sleep!).

This will really help your child’s mood so she is pleasant for the rest of the day!

Bedtime Note

If your child is not sleeping during the day, you might need to move your bedtime routine and bedtime up a bit. You will want to play that by ear and see how your child does, but if your child is having a hard time in the evening, it is good to do bedtime 30 minutes earlier than usual.

Remember that as kids drop naps, they often rearrange sleep more than just drop it.

When My Kids Stopped Napping

I have four children. They are each individual in their overall sleep needs. I have two who are low sleep needs and two who are average or even high sleep needs.

For all four children, they stopped napping and moved to rest time when they were four years old. I waited until age four for all of them before I stop calling it and treating it as a nap time and moved to it being a rest time.

All four of them would not nap every single day starting as a toddler and slowly napped less frequently over the next couple of years. The high sleep needs children napped more often longer than the low sleep needs children.

All four of them would fall asleep during “rest time” at times. The high sleep needs (Kaitlyn and McKenna) did that more often than the low sleep needs (Brayden and Brinley). Brinley fell asleep during rest time the least of all four of the children.

For all of the children, they would be more likely to sleep for rest time if they had a physically active day, were sick, or attended preschool that day (we do not go to preschool each day; we do preschool three days a week).

Rest Time Rules

For all of them, the rules of rest time were:

  • Stay in bed (unless you need to go potty)
  • You may quietly look at books
  • If you feel tired, it is a good idea to close your eyes and see if your body will sleep
  • You may get out when the clock says “XYZ” time

With the clock, for some of the children, I simply taught them how to tell on their analog clock when they could get up (for example: big hand on the 12 and little hand on the 4). For others, we got an “okay to wake clock”. This is the one we used even into early elementary years: OK to Wake Clock

OK to Wake Clock

When My Kids Stopped Rest Time

Naturally, your next big question would be “Well, when do you stop doing rest time?”

We kept rest time through the preschool years. We also did it most days through Kindergarten. We have half day Kindergarten here and so our afternoons were open.

These little kiddos get so tired after school, so rest time is such a great part of your routine to have in place so they get some extra sleep if needed.

If the child had a friend over or went to a friend’s house, we skipped rest time that day. If we went out for the afternoon, we skipped rest time that day.

Once my children entered full-day school, they did not have rest time on weekdays. I still reserve it as a tool I can use any time we need some rest.

If we had a late-night Friday night having some family fun, we might need a rest time Saturday. It is often helpful in the summer or school breaks. Even if there is no sleep, there is rest happening and that is helpful.

If we have church in the morning on Sunday and are out by noon, we often will do a family rest time all at the same time, even older siblings.

Read more here:


This post has answered what age do kids stop taking naps. Hold on to that nap until age four, even if at age three it doesn’t look so much like a nap.

Once four hits, a great birthday milestone can be that your child gets to move to rest time. Keep rest time most days through the preschool years and don’t be afraid to use it through the elementary years and even the teen years!

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This post originally appeared on this blog November 2018

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10 thoughts on “When Do Kids Stop Napping? And What To Do Instead”

  1. My daughter will be five in 3.5 months. She still takes a 1.5-2 hour afternoon nap but hasn’t started staying awake at night in her bed for about 1.5 hours before falling asleep. Should I drop her nap and move bedtime up?

    • I would start by taking the nap down to one hour a day and see how she does. If that does’t help night, move to dropping it completely. This will help in a couple of ways. One is it will wean from the nap if she ultimately needs no nap. It will also ensure you don’t drop the nap completely if she still needs a short rest.

      You might even take it to one hour and then to a 30 minute power nap if one hour is too long before you drop it completely.

  2. Valerie,
    I have a 3.5 year old that takes an afternoon nap every day. She always falls asleep and is napping from 1:00-2:30. She fusses about having to do it but always does (consistent 7 days a week). The problem is night sleep. She goes to bed at 8pm and falls asleep about 8:20. She is up however at 6:15ish in the morning. She stays in her bed (not always happily) til DWT of 7:00. She is averaging about 10 hours of night sleep which feels on the low end to me. Do I drop the nap to try and lengthen night sleep?

    • It makes sense that she would be sleeping less at night with consistently napping each day.

      10-12 hours of sleep is normal for night, but you might be able to get longer night stretches if nap is shorter.

      So you can shorten the nap or you can also have 1-2 days a week you just skip the nap. That could be what is needed to get night sleep longer.

      If you do either of these things and sleep doesn’t improve at night, you can just go back to the old schedule.

  3. Hi! My 3yr8mth old has been taking 1hr-1hr45m naps 5-6 times a week. She normally slept 10.5hrs at night. The last 10 days she has been only get 10hrs or less at night and waking 545am. Should I shorten the nap to 1hr? 45m? Thank you!

    • Hello! You can definitely try either shortening the nap or even skipping it a day or two and see how she does. If you skip it, I would leave the house during nap. I would also want the “norm” moving forward to be that there is rest time each day even without a nap, so I wouldn’t skip it at home.

      • Hi! I shortened the nap to one hour and this worked for 10 days with no early wake ups. However since then (11 more days) we have had 4 early wake ups, 3 within the last 5 days. She has even had some missed naps throughout this time. Should I shorten the nap to 45m? Go back to just letting her sleep longer at nap since she is waking earlier again? Thanks for your thoughts!

        • Something to be aware of is a sleep deficit. That takes usually a couple of weeks to build up and leads to sleep getting worse. I would consider her physical and mental daily stimulation. Make sure she is getting enough so she will be tired. But she is old enough that she might not need as much daytime sleep, so it is possible she could go for a shorter nap. https://www.babywisemom.com/sleep-deficit/

          If it were me, I would address the physical and mental stimulation first. Then I would try shortening the nap, but if things don’t improve, take it back and maybe even a little longer than it is now. I would also consider intentionally skipping naps some days.

  4. Hi, me again. I feel she is getting stimulation in the afternoons, but I am continuing to work at that. She is almost 3yr 10mth now. I shortened the nap to 45m and that helped for about a week. Then I upped the nap to 1hr20m (2days so far) and haven’t seen anything from that. Yesterday she didn’t nap, was asleep before 7 (7 is our normal BT) but she was up at 535 this morning 🙁 There have been a couple other missed naps and still earlier rising than the usual 11.5 she would sleep. Do I just keep on with the little longer nap or try something else? I’m lost and hoping for more sleep for the both of us…haha Thank you!

    • What do you do when she wakes early in the morning? I would definitely just have a rule that she can’t get out of bed or be noisy when she wakes early. If she has an okay to wake clock, that can help. If not, you could teach her tell time and know “if the clock says 7, you can get up. If it says 5 or 6, you cannot.” If kids are able to get up and get on with their day, then normal sleep transitions in the early morning can turn into full on waking because that sounds exciting to get up and start playing.

      As for naps, I would just have a start time and an end time. A “set nap.” https://www.babywisemom.com/set-naps/


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