child taking a napNeither of my kids has napped past the age of 2.5. That’s when naps in our house get really wonky. When my first child stopped napping before age 3, I thought it was a fluke — surely he was too young!

If you Google “until what age should your child nap?” (like any good parent does), you’ll find it’s between 3 and 5 years old for most children. So how was I sure my kids didn’t want to nap? Well, they went from sleeping solidly through the night to waking up for lengthy periods of time — and nothing would settle them. They would also wake up rested and energetic whether the nap was short or long.

When our first son began his nap strike, we found it was best to drop his nap completely when we saw the signs, and his night sleep improved! Magic! During the time he would have been napping, we implemented a new system — playtime with mom, then a quiet activity for the remainder of the time his little brother was sleeping. 

Like his older brother, promptly at 2.5 years old our second son started taking four-hour naps so that he could hang out with me from 2 to 5 a.m. Then, he’d fall asleep around 5 a.m. only to be up again by 8:30 a.m. for daycare dropoff at 9:30 a.m. — it made for a weird and tiring week for us both. I couldn’t deny it any longer. It was time to make a change.

It didn’t take much deduction (or searching) to figure out that we should shorten his naps. 

However, my second kid loves sleep, so I wasn’t sure if he’d fare as well as our first with ditching the nap completely — cold turkey. His nap strike would need a different sort of intervention. I asked his daycare to keep his naps to an hour at most. That weekend, I started the trial-and-error process of getting him to a normal sleeping schedule. We tried short naps in the car after going to the playground or to see friends. We tried no nap at all, which resulted in a very annoyed child (and a tricky bath and bedtime routine), but everyone survived and slept!

I felt great about our new schedule, and things went well for a few days until one evening when my son came home and fell asleep before his bath and stayed asleep (or cried sleepily) until 10 p.m. At 11:30 p.m. he finally fell asleep again — in my arms, watching “Bubble Guppies.”

We’ve had a few more weird nights like this as he’s been phasing out of his nap, but for now we’ve gotten his naps down to 20 or 30 minutes. We leave him to rest an extra 15 minutes if we’ve had an extra busy day, but so far it’s working out well.

And hopefully, once he’s really done with naps he’ll get to join his brother in special time with mom then enjoy some quiet playtime! It’s a new phase of life that is requiring some trial and error, but we’re embracing it and not looking back!

Dashanna Hanlon
Dashanna was born in Michigan and raised between there and Virginia. She moved to Massachusetts in 2011 after getting a bachelor’s degree in English and gender studies from the University of Pittsburgh. She married her favorite Massachusetts native (Tom) seven years ago. Together they have two sons, Lucas and Isaiah, born in 2018 and 2019. Becoming a parent ignited a passion for supporting others, and Dashanna became a doula before the birth of her second son. She is now the owner of Caring for Mamas, working with families all over Massachusetts and New Hampshire. She loves fresh-squeezed lemonade, good music, and helping and supporting families.