Know when to keep the sleep
If your child skips a nap, then nods off on late-afternoon walks or drives, she probably still needs her rest. Shaw suggests waking her by 4 p.m. so as not to sabotage bedtime. Monitor how your child handles days without a snooze: “If she’s cantankerous and unmanageable, then probably the nap is still needed,” says Witmans.
Toronto mom Katie Lawrence has braved sub-zero temperatures to get 31⁄2-year-old Gwenyth to nap in the double stroller she shares with 71⁄2-month-old sister Sophie. Lawrence says the cold weather doesn’t faze her “as long as the sidewalks are clear and I have a hat and mitts and a warm coat on.”
When Granic’s twins were dropping their nap, she played audiobooks. After five to 10 minutes, they would often quiet down and start dozing.
Accept the occasional bad day
It’s normal for a kid transitioning out of naps to have an erratic snooze pattern or an occasional afternoon meltdown. An early bedtime may stave off a crash, since most kids five and under need 10 to 12 hours of sleep.
While most children can adapt to napping at daycare and not at home, it’s important to provide some predictability. “If routines are changing every day, the child will give you signals,” Granic says. “If she’s tired, cranky and hyper, that’s something you’re doing wrong.” However, if that daycare snooze leaves her lying awake at night, ask about shortening the nap or substituting quiet time.
Celebrate when it’s done
Some parents find the end of nap time liberating. “At the beginning, we missed the nap, but I find we have so much more freedom,” says Alexandra Collins of St. John’s. “Now we can go swimming from one to three. We aren’t slaves to nap time anymore.”
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