Ah, naptime. It can be the cure for toddler crankiness, a sacred time for e-mail checking, and generally a sanity-saver for parents and caregivers alike. Plus, kids who nap have longer attention spans, are less fussy, and sleep better at night. But, of course, you know that your child won’t nap forever. The big question looms: When does it all end?
Over the course of the first year, the seemingly nonstop napping of infancy gradually wanes. Your child is likely to go from about five to six naps a day to just two—one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
The morning nap is typically the next to go, which tends to happen somewhere between a year and 18 months. Eventually, even the one remaining afternoon nap will (sadly!) disappear. Just 50 percent of children are still napping at age four, and 70 percent have moved on by age five.
But remember: A child not wanting to nap isn’t the same as a child not needing to nap. Toddlers need about 12 to 14 hours of total sleep a day. If your child resists a nap, tune into signals of sleepiness like eye rubbing and general crankiness. Whenever you notice those red flags, it means that your kid probably still needs a nap. Building a reliable routine around naptime can help make your child less resistant to it. Before naptime, help your kid wind down by reading a book or listening to soft music together, giving him or her a comforting blanket, and closing the blinds. If sleep is still elusive, try for quiet time instead.