Ok, so I feel like this needed it's own blog as it can be more complicated than it first seems with a few things to consider.
Usually children continue to need a nap up until the age of three. Some will be ready to drop just before this time but some will still need a nap until closer to the age of 5!
So if someone has told you that your child should not be napping during the day..... Do not listen! every child reaches this milestone at a different time and by looking at the aspects below you can determine if it is the right time for you:
What does this look like?
Are they fighting bedtime after a nap?
Or are they crashing out from pure exhaustion?
Is bedtime still at a regular time or is it getting later and later?
Once they are asleep, are the managing to sleep through the night without waking?
A good sign they may be ready is if hey still sleep well through the night but have started struggling to go to sleep. Or, they have some days where they skip a nap completely and still manage to maintain a somewhat 'normal' bedtime and sleep through. However, if they are waking frequently, fighting every nap but still sleeping for more than 30 minutes when they do go off then they are likely overtired and are tricking you into thinking it is time to drop the nap.
Morning wake up
What time are you starting your day? If it is before 6.30am then I say it is still night-time and your child is unlikely to last the day until 6.30-7pm before needing another sleep.
Early morning rising is usually the first sign of overtiredness so spend a week or so encouraging longer naps and see if it has the reverse impact. If longer naps do not resolve the early rising then you may need to start thinking about bringing in a limit to their sleep during the day. This should be gradual and not done before ruling out overtiredness.
Are you experiencing tantrums or what is commonly known as 'the witching hour' before bed? At this age your child's brain is like a sponge, soaking up everything and often being overstimulated. This makes them tired and expecting them to keep it together when tired is unrealistic. (I can support you with behaviour issues and that is a whole other conversation about brain development and boundaries so I wont go into it here!).
If your child has recently dropped their naps and they are struggling with their behaviour then you need to look at there day and see where they can either have short naps during the week, or use early bedtime and a period in the day for a calm activity to allow them to recover and quieten their overactive brains!
If your child is in full time childcare and not napping in the setting, speak to the staff. Is there a quiet area they can set up to encourage short naps and if not then at least 30 minutes of quiet time?
If they have a few days a week at home can you allow them to sleep on those days?
Dropping the nap entirely in one go is a huge step that most can not manage It is fine to allow your child to sleep if they are tired.
If you are sure that your child is ready to drop the nap, do it slowly. First of all by limiting it to an hour for a week or so then to 45 minutes and then 30 minutes. Any day that your child misses a nap, use an early bedtime to avoid overtiredness. You have to think, they are all of a sudden going from a 4-5 hour wakeful window to perhaps a 12 hour one. That is huge! And will take time.
Review every week. By keeping a sleep log you can monitor what is going on. If you limit or drop the nap and the night waking's or early morning wake ups sneak back in then it is a good sign that they are not ready.
And remember, sleep promotes sleep so do not be scared to use an early night!
I hope this has been helpful for you. If you would like more support with your child sleep aged 3-5 years or support with implementing a schedule why not book a call to discuss my range of support options to get you and your family sleeping well with lasting results?
Book a free call today to discuss your families sleep needs and find out how we can work together.