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Does your Child Need a Nap?

Naps are great.  Heck, as an adult, wouldn’t you just love to take a nap some days?  But kids need to be weaned off napping as they mature.  It’s a tricky task, weaning little ones off daily naps.  When is it time to do it?  How do you do it?  What happens if you try to do it just a little too soon?

When is it time to wean kids off daily naps?  Most kids no longer need daily naps by age four.  They still may experience minor afternoon drowsiness, but not to the degree that a nap is needed.  You can tell when your child is no longer needing daily naps by observing his behaviors.  These behaviors are your clues:  he has difficulty falling asleep during naptime; when he does nap, he then has difficulty falling asleep at bedtime; when he does not nap, he does not have difficulty falling asleep at bedtime; when he misses a nap, he does not become cranky due to exhaustion.

How do you wean your children off daily naps?  Weaning kids off daily naps is a gradual process.  First, taper them from two daily naps to one daily nap.  If that goes well, then reduce the length of time spent in his once daily nap.  Ultimately, you will eliminate the nap all together. 

What happens if you try to wean your child just a little too soon?  Just because your child fights taking a nap, that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t need a nap.  Kids often fight taking naps even though they’re clearly exhausted.  Their exhaustion is what you need to respond to, not their fighting taking the naps.  If you wean your child off napping too soon, you will know it right away:  He will be cranky because he’s exhausted.  He’s not had enough sleep.

In sum, by observing our kids, seeing and responding to their exhaustion (or lack thereof), we can determine when and how to wean kids off daily naps.

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