Is it Time to Give up Naps?

Rachel Burt Photography

By Elizabeth Pantley

A mother asks: “My threeyearold never wants to take a nap. She complains and fusses about it every day. It takes me a half hour to settle her down before she finally falls asleep. Is it time for her to give up napping?  

Children approach life with boundless energy and enthusiasm. They don’t understand the biological benefits of sleep, so they see naps as an interruption to life. If it were up to them they’d never sleep – day or night – until they simply keeled over!. Leaving the decision to nap up to your child, then, is like allowing her to choose between vegetables or ice cream for dinner – just as ice cream would win hands down, your little one is unlikely to choose sleep over awake. Which leaves the decision entirely up to the grown-ups in the house.  

How to tell if your child needs a nap 

If you watch carefully, and if you know what to look for, you will be able to tell if your child needs a nap. Here are three lists that will help you know what to watch for.   

Signs that your child needs a daily nap: 

  • Responds in a positive or neutral way to naptime, and falls asleep easily 
  • Resists or fights the idea of a nap, but eventually falls asleep and sleeps an hour or longer 
  • Wakes up in the morning in a good mood, but gets whiny and cranky as the day progresses 
  • Cries more often or more easily in the evening than early in the day 
  • Demonstrates coordination deterioration over the course of the day – can’t manage a puzzle as well, has trouble pulling up his pants  
  • Has an afternoon or early evening slump in energy, but gets a second wind later in the day 
  • Shows tired signs in the afternoon or early evening such as yawning, rubbing eyes, or looking slightly glazed 
  • Often falls asleep in the car or when watching a movie 
  • Has a difficult time waking up in the morning, or wakes up grumpy and stays that way for a while 
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1 Comment

  • My very active, strong willed 2year old took at least an hour to get down for a nap (around 11:30/noon and would have 1/2hr nap) and then in the evenings would take sometimes 2 hours to fall asleep at bed, around 10ish… he typically wakes up naturally between 8:30 and 9:30am. When he didn’t nap he was tired in evening but if we got him down by 7:30 he would immediately fall asleep and still sleep to 8:30/9:30am. I felt like either way he was getting his hours but the later was waaay less struggle. I disliked creating issues/struggle around sleep.. Is it so important to have a mid day nap or does the priority lie in getting in the needed hours of sleep? This has been a new experience for me as my first kid took effortless naps thru age three. Thank you in advanced! I love and gain so much support and wisdom from reading The Natural Parenting Magazine!

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