Is Naptime Over Forever?

by Elizabeth Pantley 

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image: Elizabeth Pantley

Does your preschooler reject the idea of taking a nap? Is it a daily struggle? Are you wondering if naptime is a thing of the past? How can you tell?

Energetic children don’t understand the physical benefits of sleep, they see nap 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, so let’s discuss the best way to make that decision.

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 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

Signs that your child is weaning from daily naps; he needs a nap on some days, but just a rest period on other days:

  • Usually has a consistent personality from morning until bedtime
  • Tends to become fussy in the evening after an active day
  • Seems okay missing one day’s nap, but after a few days of missed naps she starts to become whiny or grumpy
  • Is generally in good spirits, but can become cranky on busy days or days where his routine is upset by visitors, playdates or errands
  • When put in a dark, quiet room for a nap he lies in bed a long time before falling asleep
  • Usually goes to bed at a reasonable time and sleeps well all night long

Signs that your child no longer needs a daily nap, but still might benefit from a daily quiet rest break:

  • Has a consistent personality from morning until bedtime – even on busy days
  • Is generally in good spirits with normal ups and downs throughout the day
  • Learns new things easily and has an appropriate attention span for his age
  • Goes to bed at a reasonable time and sleeps well all night long
  • Rarely falls asleep when she is put to bed for a nap
  • On the days when he naps, it takes a long time for him to fall asleep or he goes to bed much later than usual
  • Is typically healthy and doesn’t suffer from many colds or other ailments
  • Generally wakes up on her own and in a pleasant mood

Transitioning to No Naps

The transition from naps to no naps doesn’t take place suddenly. It is often a transition period of several months where your child may need naps some days but will be fine without a nap on other days. Be sure to follow your child’s cues throughout this process and be willing to be flexible with their needs on any given day.

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: http://www.pantley.com/elizabeth/