When and How to Transition from One Nap to No Nap

Do you have a child going into kindergarten this fall and they are still taking an afternoon nap? You’re probably wondering how you’re going to make the transition from one nap to no nap as easy and seamless as possible. Perhaps your child isn’t starting school this year, but they are starting to resist their afternoon nap. Are they ready to make the transition from one nap to no nap?

Is Your Child Ready to Drop to No Nap?

Father and Son Having Fun Together

90% of children are still napping in the afternoon when they are 3 years old. At age 4, about 50% of children are still napping at least 5 days a week. In addition to your child’s age, you also want to pay attention to some of the signs that your child may be ready to transition to no nap:

● Your child is consistently showing no signs of tiredness when he misses a nap
● Your child is consistently having trouble falling asleep or doesn’t sleep at nap time
● Your child is consistently having trouble falling asleep at bedtime when they have had a nap that day

The key word here is consistently. Sometimes children will show these signs for a few days at a time, but then nap well on other days. This could mean that your child is going through a developmental milestone, or they are going to transition out of their nap soon, but they aren’t quite ready to permanently drop the afternoon nap. Obviously if your child is starting daycare or school and doesn’t have the option to nap, it’s time to make the transition.

How to Make the Transition from One Nap to No Nap

Mother Kissing Toddler's Cheek

When you’re ready to make the transition to no nap, there are things you can do to help make the transition as easy as possible without your child becoming overtired. One effective strategy is to continue giving them quiet time in their room. This will give them a chance to learn how to play independently, which is a skill they’ll use at school when working quietly on their own. Enforcing quiet time also gives them the opportunity to fall asleep if they need it. On days when your child doesn’t nap, give them a slightly earlier bedtime to help keep them well rested. It’s difficult to go from napping 1 to 3 hours a day to suddenly not napping at all. You may also choose to give them a nap on the weekend when they are at home.

After the transition, if you notice that your child is easily frustrated or more irritable towards to the end of the day, move bedtime earlier to help them get the rest they need. Studies show that a well rested child is more attentive at school, has better retention, has an easier time problem solving and is less hyperactive. A good night’s sleep will also help your child catch less colds that get passed around class!
1. Weissbluth, Marc, M.D. (2003). Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. New York: Ballantine Books.

2. Ferber, Richard, M.D. (2006). Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems. New York: Fireside.

3. Mindell, Jodi A, Ph.D. (2005). Sleeping Through the Night. New York: Harper.