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When to End the Naps

Your toddler always seems refreshed after his mid-afternoon nap and, let’s be honest, you appreciate the free time. But at some point, the day-sleeping ends. Here’s when to quit insisting on naps—and how to make the transition smoother for both of you.

Experiment with nap-free days. If your child’s fighting you on the naps, go ahead and give her a few days off—and watch her behavior closely. "If a child still has a consistent temperament from morning until bedtime, goes to bed at a reasonable time, and sleeps well all night long, he may be ready to give up his nap," says Elizabeth Pantley, co-author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways To Help Your Baby Sleep Through The Night. "If, however, a child gets wired and won’t settle down easily, often falls asleep in the car, or gets more whiny or cranky as the day progresses, he may not be ready."

Let kids snooze if they need to. In most cases, the nap doesn’t completely disappear overnight (so to speak). "Your child may be weaning off naps, but on some days he’ll still want to sleep in the middle of the day," Pantley says. If your toddler seems tired or overly irritable, try some quiet time, which can result in a good (and much-needed) nap. He can lie down quietly and look at books; you can also read to him or play calming music.

Make sure they have a good night’s sleep. "When our kids were transitioning from naps, we stuck to an extra-strict schedule at bedtime," says Amy Smith, a mom of three in Rockville, Maryland. "We also found that a warm bubble bath was a great way to get them relaxed and sleeping better—so they didn’t crave sleep the next day."

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