Most kids are ready to give up the daytime nap by the age of three. But, as with all developmental milestones, some are ready sooner, and others later. Here’s how to tell if you’ll be kissing naptime goodbye. By Lisa Witepski
You love naptime. Of course you do – it’s your hour (or, if you’re lucky, three) to yourself. At some stage though, it’s going to come to an end. These are the gins that this time is near.
Fighting the nap
If your little one puts up a fuss when you try to put her down, she might not be acting out – she might genuinely feel that she is ready to continue with her day. Sometimes, she’ll even vocalise this and, while we’re certainly not suggesting that every two-year-old knows what’s best for her, in this case she might be right. Of course, it might be that she can keep on trucking one day, and be totally unplayable by noon the next, so keep monitoring. You may have to phase out the naps slowly, putting her down every other day and letting her stay awake for the others.
Battling at bedtime
If you think about it, a child’s day is pretty exhausting. Even when their little bodies aren’t going at light speed, their brains are. So it stands to reason that it shouldn’t take long for them to fall asleep after lights out. If it does, it may well be because they have already taken care of their need for sleep with their early nap. If that’s the case, brace yourself: you’re probably in for a rough time. Expect lots of false alarms: if she’s not calling you because she “needs” the loo, it will be because she desperately has to have a snack. Either way, while she’s lying in bed, sleepless, her actual bedtime will be pushed later and later – so it might be better to give her some quiet time, reading together for instance, instead of putting her down during the day.
Remaining in good cheer
Tears are one of the most reliable signs that it’s time for a nap – so, if your little one keeps up her good humour and has plenty of energy throughout the day, it’s probably fair to say that she’s not getting too tired. Remember, though, that as a toddler she’s still prone to meltdowns, so don’t base your assessment entirely on her mood; it’s simply a yardstick.
Sleeping well throughout the night
When your little one was still a small baby, you knew that poor naptimes heralded a difficult night ahead. There’s truth in that old saying: “sleep makes sleep”. So, if your child is sleeping without interruption throughout the night, and not waking up any earlier than usual, it’s probably because she no longer needs that daytime sleep boost.
In her 16 years as journalist, Lisa Witepski’s work has appeared in most of South Africa’s leading publications, including the Mail & Guardian, Sunday Times, Entrepreneur and Financial Mail. She has written for a number of women’s magazines, including Living & Loving, Essentials and many others, across topics from lifestyle to travel, wellness, business and finance. She is a former acting Johannesburg Bureau Chief for Cosmopolitan, and former Features Editor at Travel News Weekly, but, above all, a besotted mom to Leya and Jessica. Lisa blogs at whydoialwayscravecake.blogspot.com and lisa.witepski.blogspot.com, and tweets at @LisaWitepski.