Obviously, the window of time in which that transition from one nap to no naps can happen is a BIG one. So even though you know the averages, how can you be sure that your toddler is really ready to drop that last nap? What signs should you look for?
Your toddler takes a long time to fall asleep at naptime, and generally does not seem tired when naptime rolls around. This is a classic sign that your toddler may be starting to transition away from her afternoon nap. Remember, as your toddler grows, she can gradually handle more and more awake time during the day. For example, let’s say your toddler normally wakes up at 7 a.m. While it may be true that, just a few weeks ago, she was tired and ready for a nap by 12:30 or 1, as she grows, she will be able to stay awake longer and longer.
Your toddler takes a long time to fall asleep at bedtime, and generally does not seem tired when bedtime rolls around. This sign often goes hand-in-hand with the previous one. Let’s say that lately, your toddler has been resisting his afternoon nap, and instead of falling asleep when you lay him down at 1:30 p.m., he does not actually drift off to sleep until 2:30 p.m. This could mean that, instead of waking up at 3:00, he wakes up at 4:00 (or perhaps even later). The problem here is that this later wake-up time will almost surely translate into problems at bedtime.
Of course, even toddlers who nap at their normal times may go on to put up a fight at bedtime. Why? Again, now that your toddler is older, he can handle more awake time. So even his normal nap will eventually be too much afternoon sleep, and it will begin to impact bedtime.
Your toddler skips the afternoon nap entirely, but does not show any negative side effects. If your toddler sometimes skips her nap altogether, but seems fine (no crankiness, does not seem exhausted by early evening, can go to bed at a reasonable time, etc.), this is a good sign that she is ready to transition away from her afternoon nap.
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