While all children are different, the time does come when your child will no longer want to take her nap. You will lay her down, she will sit back up, and you may even get a resounding "NO!" The one thing a parent learns about their child early on is whether or not she is a good sleeper and how much sleep she really needs. For some, it can be a painfully small amount of sleep and for others, the child seems to cling to that last long nap.
For us, it appears that 2 years old is going to be the magic age for the loss of the last nap. For the last few months, my son's sleepiness that descended at approximately 11:00 am every day seemed to get more inconsistent. Some days he was tired at 11, some days he wasn't tired until 3. It was very frustrating to me because I never knew when he was going to just curl up and go to sleep. If I tried to keep it consistent, he was out of bed in a flash.
The one thing I did notice was that his very consistent night sleeping of 10 hours would change in relation to whether or not he would take a nap. If he didn't take a nap that day, he would sleep for closer to 12 hours. It was then that I realized that he was getting the sleep he needed but he no longer needed it in the middle of the day in order to make it THROUGH the day. Here are some suggestions for determining if your child has outgrown her nap and what to do if that has happened.
Gauge your child's behavior because every child is different. If your child is fighting that nap but you find that he is practically roaring like a bear in the early evening, he clearly needs more sleep. You can either try getting him up earlier in the morning so that he is more tired by nap time or you can put him to sleep at least 30 minutes earlier than he may normally go. But really, who wants to wake up a toddler early in the morning?
Try out a gradual change in sleep routine for a few days and see how it goes. Some toddlers may gravitate toward a transition to an earlier bedtime but may still want to nap every two or three days. For my son, he is now going to bed 1 1/2 hours earlier at night than he was just a few weeks ago but he still manages to sneak in a nap every third day. I'm not complaining.
There is nothing wrong with having a "quiet hour" in lieu of a nap. Everyone needs a little peace and quiet during the day and just because your toddler doesn't want to nap doesn't mean that all hope is gone for that peaceful hour. Teaching your child to play quietly alone in his room will help teach him the value of alone time, how to be restful without necessarily sleeping and how to keep mom from going crazy. My mom came up with this one and it works like a charm.
While determining if your toddler is ready to get rid of the last nap can perhaps be a difficult decision, here are just a few ideas that worked for us. What do you do?