No mom looks forward to the day when her children stop taking their afternoon naps. I have been dreading this day, and it has finally arrived.
Different children stop taking naps at different ages. I have heard of many children giving up their nap at age two, but I hung in there with my twin boys until they were almost three and a half. When they started refusing to go to sleep until 11:00 p.m., I knew something had to change!
Giving up naps is a difficult transition for a toddler, and difficult for parents too. My boys were thrilled when I told them they didn’t have to take their naps anymore, but the first couple of days they were passing out on the couch right before dinner…they could hardly make it through the day.
It has been several weeks now since they stopped taking their afternoon nap, and we are definitely making progress. First of all, I have found that catnaps are okay when they just can’t make it through the day, but I can’t let them sleep for very long (i.e. more than an hour). The couple of times I let them sleep longer they were up until 11 p.m. again!
When I can keep them up all day they are generally asleep between 9:00-9:30 p.m. We start getting ready for bed by getting pajamas on, brushing teeth, reading books, etc., around 8 p.m. They will then sleep between 11-12 hours. Depending on what time your children need to get up in the morning, this will definitely affect what time they go to bed at night. My boys get up around 8:30 a.m.
I have one son who falls asleep really quickly, and one that plays in his bed for quite awhile before he falls asleep. During our first week of no naps, my sleepier one fell asleep at 7:30 p.m. one night and slept until the next morning! On the other hand, my other son just tonight couldn’t fall asleep until after 10:00 p.m., and I put them to bed before 9:00. The key is consistency. Putting your children to bed at the same time every night is important, as well as getting them up at the same time every morning. They won’t always fall asleep at the same time, but at least if they are in bed they will have the opportunity to fall asleep. I have also found that wearing them out definitely helps! Make sure they run around and get some of their energy out during the day.
Giving up naps doesn’t happen overnight. The afternoon is definitely longer, especially for me, but I am enjoying them going to bed at an earlier time and I realize this is just one more step in the process of them growing up!
Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom of four. For resources for the Christian family, including parenting, toddler and preschool activities, homeschooling, family traditions, and more, visit http://www.Christian-Parent.com