Breaking the Nap habit

I’d actually never thought of naps as a “habit”. I assumed that when the child is ready they just stop napping. DD dropped her last naps when she turned two, right before DS was born. It took about a month of crazy schedules where not napping would mean a cranky, miserable toddler but napping would mean she was up until midnight. We didn’t do anything except hang in there until it passed.

I’ve written many times about the issues with DS napping. He readily falls asleep in a car or stroller and so avoiding naps was difficult. But since last summer his bedtimes have been getting later and later whenever he naps. We kept thinking we just needed to hang in there and eventually he’d drop them, but it’s been a long time. Well now there’s a new aspect to the situation: before when he’d skip a nap he was asleep before 8 pm. Often we’d struggle to keep him awake past 6 or 6:30. But now it’s not so much of a struggle, and it seems if he goes to sleep before 8:30 he has a poor night of sleep: he’ll wake up in the middle of the night wanting to play, as if he’d just had a long nap, and when he does sleep he’s restless and wakes often.

For the last three days he has not napped, and in playing around with bedtimes he had the best sleep last night when he went to sleep at 8:45 pm. He’s waking pretty consistently at 8 am, too. And we’re finding it easier to “keep him awake” in the evenings.

All of this is to say that it appears he really is ready to stop napping. And now I hear that I can encourage him to drop it, like, now. Two of my friends told me that when their older children were at this stage they put a stop to napping by taking a week where they made sure they didn’t get in a situation where the child would nap (for us, a car or stroller ride), and after that week the child had settled into a new pattern and no longer napped. I had no idea you could do this, but with the latest developments and the fact that we are on day 4 of no naps, makes me feel game to try it. The challenge comes tomorrow when DD has gym class in the afternoon. DS always naps on the way and I get to sit and knit peacefully while he sleeps and DD does her class (we already skipped last week so I don’t want to skip another). It will be hard to give that up, especially since it’s cold and wet this week and taking him for a walk doesn’t appeal. But…I will sacrifice for the greater good!

Here’s hoping this works!

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