I typically talk about ways to help your child sleep, and work with families every day on establishing a healthy nap and bedtime routine, but today I’m going to switch gears. Yes, today I’m going to talk about eliminating afternoon naps.
I know, I know, you’ve come to enjoy that slice of quiet time in the afternoon, relishing the calm and cleaning up after the morning’s chaos. But, unless you want your nights to stretch endlessly, and bedtimes to once again become a battle, you should be on the lookout for signs indicative of eliminating afternoon naps.
Knowing when to remove the afternoon nap can be tricky, as little ones will often still go down for an hour or two in the afternoon even if they’re ready to go without a nap. How can you tell? If you’re finding that your little one is having a party in his crib for an hour or two after bedtime, and waking at his normal time…tired, that’s a pretty good sign that he’s ready to go without an afternoon nap.
I understand that every family needs to do what’s best for them, so if you want to keep the nap and have your little one up later, make sure you move back their wake time to compensate, ensuring that they’re getting the proper amount of sleep.
My suggestion is that you push bedtime back to no later than 8:30p.m. and remain consistent. This is an all or nothing proposition – you either keep the nap and push back bedtime, or eliminate the nap. Remember the consistency I advocate with sleep routines? Consistency will establish a new routine if you’re pushing back bedtime to allow for a nap, or forgoing the nap altogether.
If you decide to eliminate the nap [and keep the same bedtime], replace that time with quiet play in her bedroom. Books are best, but quiet play with LEGOs or something similar is fine as well. Remember, your child is used to heading to her room mid-day for that nap, so you will continue with that routine to transition away from her nap (and you’ll still get a little quiet time for yourself).
You may experience some late afternoon meltdowns in eliminating afternoon naps, but be consistent. It takes two to four weeks for our bodies to adjust to new sleep patterns, so keep this in mind if late afternoon becomes difficult during the transition and push through it.
If you’re struggling to remove your child’s nap, call me — I’m more than happy to assist you (and provide moral support)! Just send me an email with the subject “I NEED HELP”.