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Is Naptime Over Forever?

Sleeping Toddler

Does your preschooler reject the idea of taking a nap? Are you wondering if naptime is a thing of the past? Energetic children don’t understand the physical benefits of sleep; they see naps as an unwanted interruption in their day. If kids were given the choice they’d never sleep – day or night – until they simply fell over! Leaving the decision to nap up to your child, then, is like allowing her to choose between vegetables or cookies for dinner. Most children would choose cookies and, in the same way, they would choose to be awake rather than be asleep. Therefore it’s up to you to decide if your child needs a nap or not.

How Do You Know if Your Child Needs a Nap?

Children send clear signals that tell you if they need to sleep. If you watch them, and if you know what to look for, you will be able to tell if your child is tired. Here are three lists that will help you make the best napping decision.

Your child still needs a daily nap if he:

  • Wakes up grumpy, or has a hard time waking up in the morning
  • Resists the idea of a nap, but eventually surrenders and sleeps an hour or longer
  • Falls asleep easily at naptime
  • Coordination fades later in the day. (For example, can’t manage a puzzle as well)
  • Loses energy in the afternoon or early evening, but later gets a second wind 
  • Has a good disposition in the morning, but gets cranky as the day goes on
  •  Is sensitive and cries easily in the evening, more than earlier in the day
  • Gets tired in the afternoon or early evening and shows signs such as yawning, rubbing eyes, or having a vacant look
  • Frequently falls asleep when watching a movie or when going for a ride in the car

Your child may only need a nap on some days if he:

  • Takes a long time to fall asleep during naptime despite being in a dark & relaxed environment like his bedroom
  • Gets grumpy at night after days which are busier than normal
  • Has a predictable attitude throughout the day
  • Can handle skipping one day’s nap, but becomes surly or irritable after several no-nap days in a row
  • May be uncharacteristically whiny on days where running errands or social activities disrupt his normal routine
  • Sleeps through the night after going to bed at his normal bedtime

Your child may no longer need a nap every day but could still use a quiet rest time if he:

  • Maintains an attention span suitable for his age while picking up new skills
  • Doesn’t get sick often
  • Has predictable behavior all day long even if those days are busier than usual
  • Is in a generally good mood most of the time even if things don’t always go his way
  • Consistently fails to fall asleep during naptime
  • Struggles to fall asleep at night when he’s taken a nap earlier in the day
  • Is in a good mood when he wakes up in the morning on his own
  • Sleeps through the night after going to bed at his normal bedtime

What To Do When Naptime Is Coming To An End

The shift from daily naps to no naps doesn’t occur overnight. It could take as long as six months for the transition to happen. During the transition, make sure your child gets a rest break on busy days, even if he doesn't sleep.

This article is copyrighted and taken from for The No-Cry Nap Solution: Guaranteed Gentle Ways to Solve All Your Naptime Problems by Elizabeth Pantley. Here is the link for more excerpts:

Elizabeth Pantley's picture
No-Cry Solution Series Author

Elizabeth Pantley is a parent educator, mother of four, and the author of the now-classic baby sleep book, The No-Cry Sleep Solution, as well as six other books in the series, including The No-Cry Separation Anxiety SolutionThe No-Cry Potty Training SolutionThe No-Cry Discipline Solution, The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution, plus other successful parenting books. She is known worldwide as the practical, reasonable voice of respectful parenting.