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Toddler Won’t Nap? How to Transition to Rest Time

Toddler won’t nap? First find out at this post if your child is truly ready to stop napping. Then, if you’re ready, keep reading here to find out how to make the transition to rest time!

Important Read: When Do Toddler’s Stop Napping?

When your child is ready to drop the last nap, it is so important to think through how this transition to no naps will happen. It is also very important that some sort of rest time still be present during the day.

Your child may not need a nap with actual sleep, but they certainly need some downtime or rest time to refuel throughout the day and make it to bedtime.

Once you’ve determined if your child is ready to drop to no naps, you can then make a plan as to how this “no nap” day will look.

If you are wondering when to make the transition to no naps, click this link for tips on how to know if your child is ready for no naps.

Here are 4 Tips to Dropping the Nap and Transitioning to Rest time:

1. Keep a Time Slot Every Day

A child that has just had nap time removed, still needs rest and quiet time. Honestly this is beneficial for everyone! This time should occur at the same time that nap time was occurring (most likely right after lunch).

During this time, your child should be in their room, by themselves, and in bed.

I know, you are sitting there asking “What? Why would we implement a rule like that when my child won’t be napping?” 

Here’s why: Your child needs downtime. They need quiet. This time will provide that.

Since you know your child doesn’t sleep during naps any longer, however, you can make some changes (see #2 below – call it rest time).

2. Call it Rest Time

We’ve transitioned to calling nap time “rest time” since Caroline was about 2.5 years old. Oh my gosh this worked wonders for us.

We used to put Caroline in bed, turn her clock blue to indicate it was nap time, and leave the room. She’d stay awake, and for awhile, she was even getting upset.

She wasn’t, however, ready to drop her naps (troubleshoot if your little one is ready to drop naps at this link)

So, we started turning her clock green instead of blue. We started calling it “rest time” instead of nap time.

And we implemented new rules:

– She is now allowed to get out of bed to get books, or stuffed animals (no toys other than that) to bring to bed.

– She must stay in bed other than to retrieve a book or stuffed animal.

– She is allowed to quietly “read” or play with her friends (stuffed animals).

– She is welcome to sleep if she feels like it. (be sure to mention this)

– If, after an hour, she is still awake, I will let her know that she can get out of bed to play quietly in her room.

My gosh did we see an immediate difference in our daughter’s behavior!

Not only did she start napping on occasion, her mood was much better. She doesn’t always nap, but many days she does.

When she’s fully ready to stop napping, this time will be in place, already called rest time, and she’ll already be used to the rules of rest time.

Calling it something new, and making new rules that gave her a tiny bit more freedom, took the pressure off of “nap time”.

It gave her ownership of the process as well. She decides if she sleeps or stays awake. Sleep is not something we can force our children to do. So, if we can set them up for success, they can learn to make good decisions about their sleep.

Caroline did just that.

3. Allow for flexibility within the structure of “rest time”

You’ll notice above that we gave Caroline flexibility in two ways:

– First, we allow her to get books and stuffed animals. If your child isn’t tired, this really helps to keep them entertained, yet quiet. She is still required to return to bed, and she is still required to stay in bed. There is structure and flexibility.

– Second, if she is clearly not going to be sleeping, we reward her for listening and staying in bed. After 1 hour of true quiet rest time in bed, she is told that she can get up and have room time (quiet play time in her room by herself).

This helps to lengthen the restful time, while again trusting her with some flexibility within our structured time.

She’s thrilled to be able to get up and play. Independent playtime is then an exciting time in her day, as we’d like it to be!

4. Earlier Bedtime

Don’t forget that your child is going to be tired, sooner in the evening, if they are suddenly not napping.

It’s ok to push bedtime to a slightly earlier time if your child didn’t nap.

Just as it’s ok to push bedtime to be a slightly later time if your child did decide to nap one day.

I’ve found that we end up having an A and B schedule. On days she decides to nap, she stays up later in the evening. On days she doesn’t nap, we keep the usual earlier time.

Again, it’s all about keeping structure, but giving yourself enough flexibility to adjust to your child’s needs.

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