When Do Toddlers Stop Napping? 5 Telltale Signs To Look For!

By Paula McLaren •  Updated: 10/29/21 •  9 min read

Simply crawl into bed…

Get all cosy… 

Close your eyes…

And drift off into peaceful slumber…

EASY.

So why then… is it so hard to get right with children?!

Sleep has now become a fine balancing act that plays a huge role in determining whether you have a lovely calm child or a little terror on the verge of a tiredness meltdown for the day!

What fun!

And to add another layer of complexity to this mystical game of sleep… Toddlers make their own rules about naps as they grow up!

So if you’re here… understandably confused and not sure what to do about your toddler’s nap schedule…

Then you’re in the right place.

Today we’re going to answer the most crucial question of them all…

When do toddlers stop napping?!

When Do Toddlers Stop Napping?

No set timeline will answer the question “when do toddlers stop napping?”…

…As the amount of daytime sleep a toddler needs will vary from child to child.

In fact, I have known some toddlers to drop their daytime sleep as early as 1 year old and others still need a nap at 3 years of age.

In other cases, your little one may need a nap on some days of the week depending on what they have been doing.

For example, if they went to swimming class in the morning, playgroup or daycare they will often need an afternoon nap to regain their energy!

Having said all this…

On average, your toddler will most likely start to show signs of dropping their morning nap by the time they are 15 months old to 18 months old.

After this, they will drop their afternoon nap between the ages of 2-4 years of age.

5 Subtle Signs Toddler Is Ready To Drop A Nap

The trick to keeping or losing a daytime nap is to know what signs to look out for in your little one.

If your toddler is showing any of these signs, you know that they are ready to drop a nap somewhere in the day:

  1. They’re struggling to fall asleep at nap time,
  2. Your toddler’s afternoon nap is getting later and later and beginning to affect the bedtime routine,
  3. They are struggling to fall asleep at bedtime,
  4. Your toddler has already started to skip naps on some days,
  5. And your toddler is waking early in the mornings.

So now we know what to look out for when dropping individual naps… 

But what about when toddlers are ready to stop napping altogether?

5 Telltale Signs Your Toddler Is Ready To Stop Having Naps!

Moving on from the early signs that your toddler is getting ready to drop a daytime nap, there are another 5 definitive signs that it is time for you to help them drop their naps fully.

They are:

When Do Toddler Stop Napping 5 Telltale Signs
  1. Your toddler will skip naps on most days,
  2. They do not fall asleep at all when you put them down for a nap,
  3. They struggle to fall asleep and stay in bed at bedtime if they have had a nap in the afternoon,
  4. Your toddler will maintain a good mood throughout the day without a nap.
  5. And they wake up at the same time every morning even without a nap the previous day.

So, if your toddler is regularly showing these signs…

You DEFINITELY know it’s time to drop daytime naps and focus on nighttime sleep!

How Many Naps Should My Toddler Be Having?

So, as I mentioned earlier…

Toddlers will drop the morning nap first, usually between 15-18 months of age…

Followed by dropping their afternoon nap between the age of 2-4 years. 

But remember…

Follow the signs your toddler is giving you ALONGSIDE the guidelines provided.

So how much sleep and how many naps should your toddler be having at their age?

1-Year-Old Toddler Naps

1-year-olds need 11-14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.

With 2-3 hours of that taken as daytime sleep split over 2 naps…

Between 1 and 2 years of age, your toddler will transition from 2-1 naps a day.

Transitioning from 2 naps to 1 can be tricky and it won’t happen overnight.

You will need to keep a close eye on your toddler’s sleep signals and some days they may need two naps and on others, only one.

So, here are some tips to help you navigate dropping that morning nap with your little one:

2-Year-Old Toddler Naps

Similar to 1-year-olds, 2-year-olds need 12-14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.

With 1-2 hours of daytime sleep taken in an afternoon nap…

Most 2-year-olds will carry on needing an afternoon nap.

Or… 

At the very least, a quiet time after lunch. 

You may find that they can miss the occasional afternoon nap on one or two days a week but it is unlikely that your toddler will be able to go through the day, consistently, without having a daytime nap.

It is advisable that you continue to offer your 2-year-old an afternoon nap for now.

3-Year-Old Toddler Naps

So, 3-year-olds need 10-12 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.

With 1-3 hours of daytime sleep still being taken as an afternoon nap…

And when dealing with 3-year-old naps, it is important to remember that an overtired child that has gone all day without a nap is less likely to settle to sleep at bedtime and stay asleep.

After all, sleep breeds sleep!

Therefore, getting your 3-year-old sleep schedule right is VITAL. 

Too much or too little daytime sleep can result in afternoon meltdowns, crashing a couple of hours before bedtime or early morning waking…

And depending on your child’s needs, they should nap for anything between 1-2 hours after lunch. 

If however, they are showing signs of resisting their nap on a daily basis…

Then they may be ready to drop it on some days or altogether.

Again, I would always aim for a quiet time after lunch even if your toddler doesn’t actually sleep. Encouraging your little one to sit quietly in their bedroom looking at books or playing alone can be restorative for both of you.

4-Year-Old Toddler Naps

And lastly, 4-year-olds need 10-12 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.

With up to 2.5 hours of sleep taken as a nap, if needed…

Bear in mind that if your child is exhibiting any of the following signs, they are NOT ready to stop napping just yet:

REMEMBER: Most 4-year-olds will have dropped their afternoon nap… But if your toddler still happily going down for a nap after lunch, then it means that they still need the rest.

Frequently Asked Questions About When Do Toddlers Stop Napping

Here are a few questions that come up time and time again when discussing when do toddlers stop napping, so I hope they will help you too!

Is It Normal For A 2-Year-Old To Stop Napping?

Yes and no…

It is very normal for 2-year-olds to no longer need a morning nap…

But stopping an afternoon nap is far less common (but not unheard of!) at this age.

Does Stopping Daytime Naps Affect A Toddler’s Sleep?

Daytime naps should NOT impact your toddlers’ nighttime sleep.

The only case where naps affect nighttime sleep is when your toddler is having too much or too little sleep for their needs.

If this happens, it can put their sleep routine completely out of whack.

Too much sleep and they will struggle to fall asleep at bedtime and or start to wake earlier than normal in the mornings.

Too little and they will become cranky and hyper towards the end of the day and ultimately difficult to settle at bedtime.

So there definitely is a fine balance to deciding when to stop toddlers from napping…

But focusing on the signs they are presenting and knowing roughly when they should be dropping naps will help you considerably in finding this balance.

My Toddler Doesn’t Seem Quite Ready To Drop All Naps… Are Missed Naps Ok?

Dropping a nap is not like flicking a light switch…

Your toddler’s nap transition from 2 to 1 OR 1 to none takes on average 4-6 weeks. 

This is the amount of time it takes for your toddler’s body to adjust to the new sleep schedule.

And sometimes they’ll be fine all day and sometimes they’ll need a nap to help carry them through!

So yes…

Missed naps are absolutely fine.

With this said, you should encourage your toddler to have quiet time as if they were having a nap when they’d usually have a nap.

Some days they will drift off to sleep, and on other days, they may not…

But continuing with a quiet time will help them get through the afternoon as it gives them a brief pause from a busy day.

Quiet time can include playing with crayons, puzzles or looking at books.

TOP TIP: Once your little one has fully stopped napping, you can make the time after lunch the new quiet time that you can spend together engaging in low energy activities. This can become a wonderfully precious and bonding part of your daily routine before you embark on the afternoon’s activities.

And there you have it!

I hope you enjoyed this post about ‘when do toddlers stop napping’ and if you found it helpful, and know of other parents who would find it useful, please share it around!

And if you have any further questions about toddler nap transitions or if you have any blog recommendations that you’d like me to write about… Then be sure to drop me an email at [email protected], I love hearing from you!

Once again, thank you for your continued support and until next time, Happy Parenting!

Paula McLaren

Paul Mclaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and has been in the child care industry as a Norland Nanny since 1982. Since then, her mission has been to help parents become the best they can possibly be. And each year, she continues to help more families understand their child's development, the trials and joys of parenting and of course, how to care for their little ones.

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