Like big, clumsy birds that plop back to earth a few times as they run, trying to get airborne, some toddlers take many weeks—bouncing along—before they’re definitely able to take flight and say au revoir to their last nap. They struggle to stay awake during play and fall fast asleep the instant they’re put in the car. And they become wild during afternoon play—melting into tearful streams of “no, no, no!”—yet keel over in the high chair before they get even halfway through dinner.
About 20% of 2-year-olds have stopped all naps—although you can be sure those parents wish they still had that little break during the day! By the 3rd birthday, 43% of kids no longer nap. And that increases to 74% of 4-year-olds and 85% of 5-year-olds. An early sign that the nap is waning is when your child sleeps at preschool but skips it on the weekend.
Most kids take this final step over several weeks—napping some days and not others. Ultimately, your child will completely switch to an afternoon quiet time.
When your tyke gives up her last nap, expect her to start running out of gas earlier in the evening. So be prepared to slide dinner and bedtime an hour earlier.
Surprisingly, your 4-year-old will go to bed earlier than she did at 18 months! But that’s what she must do to continue getting 10-12 hours of sleep a day after napping is finished. (And don’t be surprised if, during this transition, your love-bug also pops awake in the morning a little earlier than usual.)