Real Moms Speak: No More Naps
Some kids give up naps even younger. Angela, mother of two, said, “Abbey dropped her nap at 22 months; she was always a reluctant napper. She'd fall asleep in the car every once in a while, but she functions fine with less sleep. Dylan was about 2 1/2. I think I could have kept putting him down for naps, and we could have worked past the nap strike at that point. However, he would stay up until around 11:00 [p.m.] if he napped, and we prefer to have them go to bed a little earlier.”
Routine and scheduled activities also play a part in when children decide to give up naps (or not). Tonya, mother of two, said, “My oldest, Lucas, only takes a nap on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday because those are the days he goes to school. On Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, there are no naps. In fact, he will wake up and announce, ‘It's Wednesday. I'm not going to have a nap, quiet time, timer time, playtime in my room, or rest time.' And by God he means it! On school nights, because he takes a nap, he goes to bed at 8:30, and on days he does not take a nap, he goes to bed at 7:30.”
Tonya adds that she has been told by more than one pediatrician and several preschool and elementary teachers that children need to take naps up until the age of six. Parenting expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa is of the opinion that the normal range for naps is ages 2 to 8, with many kids giving up early at age 2 or 3.
Most kids do voluntarily give up their naps fairly early, and parents do not discourage it, as they find that in giving up naps, they go to bed earlier and easier. Kristin, mother of one, says that although giving up the nap was hard, it made more sense for an easier bedtime. Leigh Ann, mother of three, including twins, agrees, saying that when one twin gave up her nap, she encouraged the other to do the same, so as to not interfere with their joint bedtime.
So is giving up naps up to the children or the parents? Kimberly, mother of four (soon to be five), says, “I think it depends on the child him or herself more than the age. Some children need that time to recharge and unwind, whereas others do not. While some children napping at that age will interfere with their night time sleep habits, others still need that extra bit of sleep to push through the day.”
Read more about encouraging naps (and what to do when naps are over) with Nap Time Revisited: Schedules, Routines, and When It Ends.