Is your 2-year old ready to drop their nap?
Are you wondering if it’s time? Is your 2-year old ready to drop their nap?
This is a popular question around the 2 to 2 ½ year mark, and it’s often brought on by your child refusing to nap. This refusal can seemingly come out of the blue. But does your child not napping mean it is time to give it up? Well, not always!!
Let’s have a look at what might be happening around the two-year mark when they refuse to nap, and what to do about it.
Mucking around at nap time
When a toddler with good sleep skills starts mucking around at nap time, parents can start to wonder if the napping days are over, and that’s a fair enough question. But there is a little more to it, so you need to consider both your child’s age and exactly what they’re doing.
What often happens somewhere around the two-year mark, is that your toddler can get into their cot or toddler bed and even be quite happy there. But they don’t fall asleep! Instead, you hear them chatting to themselves, they might walk around their cot or even sing songs over and over.
This behaviour can go on for more than an hour. Then they might fall asleep for a short period of time. Or they may not fall asleep at all! When this happens, a lot of parents start wondering, “oh no, are the napping days over”? “Maybe he or she really doesn’t need the nap”!
But the truth is there is often more going on than “not napping” when a child seemingly starts to muck around at that midday nap.
Is it language acquisition?
This behaviour of chatting or playing at nap time has more to do with a developmental milestone than anything else. It can occur periodically around the second and third year of life, and it is actually related to a surge in language acquisition.
Along with the refusal to nap, you may notice your toddler is doing a little more singing or playing throughout the full day. And you’ll likely notice more babbling and a little more communicating with you. You may even find you have a little chatterbox on your hands, one who will chat with everything and everyone (and there’s no off switch).
Honestly, it’s a wonderful stage, because it’s then they really start talking, and their personality shines through. It can be a fun time to see the world through your child’s eyes.
But what happens when they get into their cot (or bed) is that they start realising they have all of this time. Free time to let their mind wander. And part of this is the developmental need to practice sounds, and singing, and babbling. All through nap time. Yes, sometimes throughout the ENTIRE nap time!
It’s a phase
The good news is, it is a phase. You may notice it for a week or two; maybe even for three weeks. But it’s OK. I don’t want you to panic or do anything differently. Just continue to pop them down for their nap and give them space. The best thing you can do is to continue with their normal nap routine and basically ignore the new behaviour. This is about continuing to give them the opportunity to sleep if they need it. But you can’t MAKE your child sleep.
Once this language surge is over and your child has grasped a few new words and added to their language skill set, then things will settle back down again. That is when you will most likely see your child return to napping wonderfully, like they always have. As long as you haven’t done anything too dramatically different in the meantime.
If, however, you don’t see any change in this mucking around at nap time after three weeks. Maybe the babbling is continuing, or you’re now getting some significant protest along with the playing. That is when it really may be time to drop the nap.
For most children, this is more likely to show up closer to the age of three years, than just as they hit two years. But if night sleep is going well and your child is in fact getting a good 12-13 consolidated hours sleep over night, then it could be time for them to leave the daytime nap behind at an earlier age.
And what you’ll need to do then is move bedtime earlier. If you have a child transitioning to not napping at all, you’ll want to move bedtime up. Sometimes a 7pm bedtime can get a 3-year old through the day. However, you may need to move bedtime as early as 6 or 6.30pm for a couple of weeks to compensate for the body clock change.
Dropping the day sleep is a significant milestone, and a huge change to your child’s body clock, so give it time before you make the decision. Observe how the mucking around goes before you jump straight in there. And then you can decide if your 2-year old is really ready to drop the nap.
For now, though, if this is happening for you, just ride it out. Observe and see what happens once you give your toddler some time and space. And don’t forget to record some of the babbling to play at their 21st!
Good Sleep is so important for children, it can be concerning when things change. But you don’t have to go it alone. If you’re interested in a sleep package to help with nap transitions or sleep in general, please book a free initial call to learn more HERE. I also offer short Ask Me Anything calls to help you know which way to turn if you have a sleep decision coming up. And I’d love you to follow along on Facebook and Insta for blogs, sleep tips and more…