I recommended holding on to the nap until at least age 3 and often up through 4 years! You will know your child is ready to stop napping when the nap begins interfering with bedtime or your child begins resisting their nap consistently. Some children will even begin waking earlier or waking in the middle of the night to tell you less daytime sleep is needed. When you see that consistently happening you can try cutting the nap shorter to 90 minutes, then 60 minutes, then 45 minutes and finally even 20-30 minutes. Not every child needs to gradually diminish the nap but it is an option for a slower transition. Another option would be to offer quiet time daily, and your child may sleep 1-2 days a week.
One of the most important pieces in this transition will be compensating with an earlier bedtime when no nap or a short nap is taken. Your child should be exhausted at the end of the day, and if your child is resisting going to sleep at the end of the day, it is almost guaranteed that bedtime is just too late and your little dreamer is catching a second wind to delay bedtime! Move bedtime 30-60 minutes earlier.
Wake windows or wake times are the time your toddler is awake between sleeping sessions. You will notice that the wake time that I focus on the most is the one after the nap. The wake window after the nap influences so much more than the morning one. When bedtime is timed right your child will fall asleep easier, sleep through the night with less or no disturbances, be able to sleep in until fully rested and be able to easy and quickly fall asleep for their nap while taking a long enough nap to wake happy and well rested. By the age of 3 most children can handle a 4.5-5 hour wake window after their nap. Even if it takes around 30 minutes for your child to fall asleep, I don’t recommend putting them to bed later than 5 hours after their nap ends. Once you transition to no nap you will aim for a bedtime about 12 hours after the morning wake up, instead of timing bedtime based on the end of the nap. While adjusting to no nap, I will often plan on 11.5 hours after waking to be back in bed, in order to help my child adjust to no nap. As they grow and adjust they should stay pretty close to 12 hours.
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