This is the million dollar question. It can be really hard to tell. But one mistake a lot of parents make is dropping the nap too soon because their little one starts to resist the nap. As challenging as it may be, resistance alone isn’t enough.


Here are the questions to ask yourself before letting your little one drop their nap.


Can they cope?

One of the best ways to truly know whether your little one is ready to drop their nap is to see if they can cope without one. If your child has been absolutely refusing to nap, let them miss it for a few days and see what happens. If after a little while they’re malfunctioning by bedtime, falling asleep in the car minutes after you’ve left the driveway or suddenly experiencing more tantrums, these are all clear signs that they just weren’t ready. You’ll want to seriously consider re-introducing the nap asap to prevent any disturbances to bedtime.


Is night sleep interrupted?

Another clear way to tell is if night sleep becomes disturbed. If your child previously slept well at night but after dropping the nap they either struggle to get to sleep at night, wake up during the night or wake up very early in the morning, these are all signs they need their nap back. Dropping the nap too soon will cause overtiredness to build up because your child can’t cope with being awake for so long and overtiredness invariably causes issues with night sleep.


How old are they?

It might surprise you but the majority of children need some kind of day sleep until at least 3.5 years old. This can be even older for some children. However, once little ones reach this age, the nap doesn’t have to be daily. It could be every other day or every few days, just to allow them the chance to top up their ‘sleep tank’. If your child is under 3 and you’re considering dropping the nap completely, just be aware it really could be too soon for them.


So what next?

Having read this you may have come to the conclusion that your little one does need their nap after all. But they just won’t do it. It’s really tough, I know. I have a toddler too and I feel your pain on this one. So what can you do about it?


Keep trying

Consistency is key. Continue with your usual nap routine at the same time every day if you can so you are at least giving them the opportunity to nap. Even if they don’t nap, they may lie in their cot chatting to themselves so at least they’re resting. You want to send the signal that nap time is non-negotiable. This is for children who still need a daily nap. For children over 3, giving them the opportunity to nap every other day is ok if the daily nap is just not happening.

Use motion naps

If your little one just isn’t having any of it, consider taking them out in the car instead. Do this at their usual nap time. As a working mum, doing this daily isn’t possible but on the days you can, it could make a big difference (as inconvenient as it might be). Similarly if your little one is happy to sit in a pram they might nod off but pram naps are definitely harder the older your child gets.

So to conclude, if your child is over 3, continues to sleep well at night, can get through the day (on average) without struggling with tantrums, upset etc that they didn’t experience before and isn’t constantly falling asleep on short car journeys after midday, it may mean they’re ready to drop their nap.

Remember, you might want to allow them a nap every few days or certainly when you feel they really need it. Parents worry that if their child naps it will disturb night sleep. And yes to some extent this is true if your child doesn’t NEED the nap or naps for too long. But if they’ve had a busy few days there’s nothing wrong with a short midday nap to top them up.


Reading your child’s signals is the most important thing.