If your toddler still has a nap during the day and you wonder when they should stop, or if your child has recently stopped daytime napping and is grouchy as a result, it can leave you wondering what the best course of action is for toddlers who are at that in-between stage.
There are no absolute rules when it comes to daytime napping. In general, if your child is tired then they should have the nap. Children of toddler age need 12-14 hours of sleep in any 24 hours, this is a lot of sleep so don?t worry if your child is healthy and happy but loves their sleep. Many toddlers, and even school-age children, still need a daytime nap to keep them going until bedtime. Don?t compare your child to his peers ? if you think your child really needs the nap and you are confident it isn’t interfering with how they sleep at night, then let them have that sleep, limit the time they have so that they don?t oversleep and spend half the night bouncing around, but let them enjoy that rest.
Many children enjoy their daytime nap and it only becomes a problem when it starts to affect their night time sleeping pattern. So if your toddler sleeps for an hour after lunch and starts getting up an hour earlier or becoming very difficult to get to bed at night, then you might feel it is the right time to end the daytime nap and change bedtime to reflect this change. If the daytime nap is interfering with their night time sleeping pattern, then you should make the transition as smoothly and slowly as possible to avoid any problems.
Start by reducing the length of time you allow your child to sleep in the daytime, you might find that this solves the problem. If by reducing the 2 hour nap to a one hour nap you are able to reclaim control over bedtime or stop the 5am waking, then there is really no need to end the daytime nap completely. Simply shorten it by waking your toddler after an hour and in time they will learn that this is the length of time the daytime nap lasts and will wake themselves after an hour. It may be difficult for a few days as they adjust, but they should settle into the new routine quickly.
If reducing the length of the daytime nap does not help, then you need to reduce it further until they are no longer having that nap. Instead, they can have a quiet rest period where they are awake but engaged in an activity that is gentle. Make sure they have plenty to drink and a snack for refueling and give it a few days ? the night-time sleep pattern should improve. They should be ready to sleep earlier and stay asleep a little longer. In time, it becomes easier for you and your child; try to enjoy the restful period of the day with your child until they adjust.