Your 2-year-old is on a nap strike, and you’re at your wit’s end.
Naptime can be a struggle for parents of young children. But it doesn’t have to be! Here are some nap strike survival tips for parents who want their toddlers to get enough sleep.
You don’t need to lose hours each day on the couch trying to coax your toddler into sleeping again. Instead, try these 10 nap strike survival tips that will help you win the battle against little ones and their stubbornness over naps.
What is a Nap Strike?
A nap strike can happen around the age of 2 for most toddlers. This is because toddlers are entering a new developmental stage where they understand they have some independence and can make decisions. During this time, it is common for children to experience power struggles in all areas of their lives. The nap strike can also happen during times when your child is going through growth spurts.
This is the age when your child is starting to test boundaries and see what they can and can’t do. This may lead to some pushback on their usual naptime. They are figuring out how to say ‘No’ and using every opportunity they can to use it.
While it is common for 2-year-olds to want to skip their nap, parents need to remember that just because your child isn’t taking their afternoon nap doesn’t mean they are ready to drop napping altogether. If you try following through with a consistent schedule, rest assured that it will work out in time.
Why Your 2-year-old Stopped Napping Suddenly
Toddlers are learning how to talk and become more independent. This newfound independence can temporarily stop them from napping or wanting to nap. Most of the time, napping will resume after learning some new skills and realizing that there are boundaries and some things aren’t up for debate.
Nap Strike vs. Sleep Regression
The difference between a nap strike and a sleep regression is that a nap strike is not caused by any changes in your child’s sleep habits. Like the previous 12-month sleep regression, sleep regressions tend to be triggered by developmental changes, illness, or teething. Once the sleep regression is over, the sleep schedule is slightly different.
It could also be because of a developmental change during a nap strike, but it has more to do with them testing boundaries rather than learning a new skill. During a strike, they are not taking a nap at their routine time, but they are not yet ready to change their schedule or drop their nap.
How to Handle the Nap Strike
There are a few tips you can use to help make it past a nap strike. The following techniques will take time, and the nap strike can last a couple of weeks, but eventually, the schedule will go back to normal.
1. Be Consistent
When dealing with a toddler on a nap strike, you should be trying to stick as close as possible to their normal routine. This means continuing with the same number of naps in their crib and the times at which you give them.
2. Change to Quiet Time
When your 2-year-old is refusing to nap during their normal nap time, there are a few tricks you can try to encourage them. The first method is the “magic hour” approach; this means putting your child down for 30 minutes every day even if they aren’t sleeping through it.
If they refuse to sleep during this time, you make sure they still have consistent quiet time alone. After the nap strike is over, naps will continue again during these times.
3. Try White Noise
If they are resistant to sleep, put on some white noise or music to help them relax. You can also try putting your child in the car and driving around the block once before bed. Your child may just be having trouble relaxing their body and mind. White noise and things like driving around are helpful because it triggers their sleepiness reflexes.
How to Avoid Naptime Battles: Tips to Follow
If the above methods don’t work, there are other options for toddlers who refuse to nap during their regular time. Here are some other tips that may help.
4. Remove Stimulation
Make sure to eliminate all kinds of visual and auditory stimulation throughout the day, especially before going to nap. This means turning off the TV, computer, and other electronics before naptime or bedtime will help your child relax and sleep well.
It would be best not to attempt to stimulate your child right before nap or bed either. Even if it’s something as simple as talking to them before they go to sleep, it can make falling asleep much harder for them. Keep the room calm and quiet.
5. Read a Story
Another helpful technique is to read your child a story before bed. Just be sure to keep your voice calming. Reading a book lets them know nap time or bedtime is coming and will help them go into their room calm and ready for sleep.
6. Lay with your Child
Try to lay with your child until they fall asleep. This helps them feel more comfortable and secure in their bed. They may be feeling a little bit of separation anxiety, which can keep them from wanting to nap. Reassure them by staying with them until they fall asleep.
7. Move Up Bedtime
During a nap strike, they will be extra tired at night. It may help to move up their bedtime by half an hour. If they are overtired, it will be harder to get them to sleep. While they are going through this nap strike, make sure they are getting enough sleep at night.
8. Keep Morning Wake Up Time the Same
When your child’s napping schedule is disrupted, you may also be tempted to change their morning wake-up time. They will be tired and will want to sleep in more. However, make sure to keep this one consistent so they continue to have a steady bedtime routine and be more inclined to want to take a nap during the day.
9. Have an Active Morning
Try to make sure that your child has as much physical activity as possible whenever they wake up. The more active you keep them during the day will tire them out and get them ready for their nap or bedtime. It can also reduce their risk of sleeping beyond their normal wake-up time.
10. Be Patient
Last but not least, you should always be patient when dealing with your child and any sleep changes they go through. The nap strike is only temporary and will hopefully end quickly. Please do your best to help them get back on track by sticking to their normal routine as closely as possible.
FAQ’s Regarding Toddler Nap Strikes
When do toddlers drop their final nap?
Most toddlers stop taking their final nap around the age of 3. However, some children still take a final afternoon nap at age 4 or 5. It may not be until they are ready for Kindergarten that they stop taking naps altogether.
How long does nap strike last?
It usually takes about 2 weeks for toddlers to get back on track with their napping routine after a sleep regression of any kind. Be patient and stay positive that this too shall pass. This nap strike will be over before you know it.
Is there a 2-year-old nap regression?
Yes, usually around 2 years old, or when you start potty training your toddler, you can expect a sleep regression. This sleep regression will affect bedtime as well as naptimes.
When my child won’t take an afternoon nap, does that mean they ready to drop their nap?
Many parents are concerned that if their toddler refuses napping altogether, it is a sign they are done with naps entirely. However, this isn’t true at all. The best thing you can do is make sure to keep your toddler’s schedule as close to their normal nap time as possible. Toddlers are usually not ready to drop that last nap until they are over 3 years old.
How much sleep does a 2-year-old need?
Children between the ages of 1 and 3 years old need up to 11-14 hours of sleep a day.
In this article, we talked about the 2-year-old nap strike and how it can affect your toddler. There are several things you can do to help get through the process with your child. We hope that these tips have helped you understand what is happening when your toddler suddenly stops taking naps or refusing them all together, so you know exactly what to do for both of you to get back on track.
For example, your child may be going through a two-year-old nap strike if it is taking you longer than usual to get them down for their naps during the day. This may make you think your little one has dropped their final nap and is done with napping altogether; however, this is not the case. It is best to keep up with their routine by putting them down for their naps at the same time every day. Please do your best to stay calm around them, as they will likely pick up on your stress and become even harder to settle down.
If they refuse to sleep during their nap, make sure they have a quiet time for at least 30 minutes when they are supposed to be napping. It may take up to 2 weeks before they get back to their normal napping routine without the pushback. Be patient during this time, and it will pass soon.