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time to skip naps? update

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I'd like some thoughts on our current sleep schedule to decide whether we should try skipping naps. I read some other posts, but nothing fit perfect, so here are our details.

Right now my DS (2.5 years old) sleeps from about 10pm to 7am and takes about a 1.5 hour nap around 1pm. The total number of hours is about 10.5 hours of sleep in 24 hours, averaged over a week. He falls asleep for his nap pretty quickly usually, about 10 minutes of rocking or nursing. He wakes up smiling at first, but then is often very fussy for an hour or so. At night he takes at least 1 hour to fall asleep, with lights off and nursing a bit, me singing or rocking him, then he goes through a biting/giggling phase (very annoying!) before eventually falling asleep.

I've tried putting him to sleep earlier at night but it just takes him longer to go to sleep or he wakes up super early. Waiting for him to get more tired doesn't always work - could still take an hour to fall asleep, then it's midnight... We have on occasion skipped his nap when traveling or something - he does ok overall, but gets sleepy/cranky for a while, then it passes, and he seems a bit more sensitive in the evening.

Presumably if we skip the nap consistently so that he sleeps longer at night, then maybe he won't be as tired if he skips his nap, and we could avoid the afternoon post-nap crankiness, and maybe get him to fall asleep in less than 1 hour? Or is this all wishful thinking?

People say to look for signs of not being sleepy at nap time for skipping naps, but he is... whereas he's not sleepy at night!

How long would it take to transition to a no nap schedule? i.e. how do I know if it's working or not?

Thanks for any thoughts!
post #2 of 14
2.5 is young for giving up napping. And 10 1/2 hours in 24 is on the lower side of what's usually considered optimal. So it's possible that if you give up the nap, you may wind up with an overtired child. Overtiredness often leads to a kid having a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep at night, rather than an easier time. And it's hard to reinstitute napping once you've stopped it, because kids sometimes resist going back to it.

When my DD1 was ready to stop naps (around 3, which is still early) we knew because she just didn't sleep at naptime anymore. But stopping the naps didn't increase her nighttime sleep. That stayed the same. But she slept longer at night anyway-- about 12 hours, consistently. So I don't know.

I'm a big sleep advocate, so my first impulse would be to say definitely don't give up naps at this age. My 3 1/2 year old twins still take a long nap, and I have no plans to phase it out. But I've never had a child who seems to do better with a late bedtime and less sleep overall-- my kids are all 7:00 bedtime/14 hours a day sleepers. So I may not be the best source of advice.

If you do decide to try it-- you'll know it's not working, and that overtiredness is happening, if you start to see increased crankiness, a reduced tolerance for frustration, more difficulty sleeping soundly at night, or random naps, like a child who falls asleep a lot in the car or stroller.
post #3 of 14
My DS (2) takes awhile to wind down at night. We start his bath at 7:30, bottle at 7:50 and he is usually in his crib by 8:00. Last night he talked and sang in his crib for 60 minutes. Crazy...but, he never fussed or cried so I let him be and he went to sleep. Normally he talks/sings for 20-30 minutes so I don't know what was up last night. I don't go back into his room after saying goodnight unless he fusses (of course I always check on him when I go to bed...after he is asleep)

Also, we changed our night time routine...BEFORE: we were going outside after dinner for play time (burn energy), and DH was throwing him around, tickling and having so much fun with him...BUT we found we were really winding him up. NOW: we have most of our big play time before dinner and quiet play after dinner. Sometimes we go outside for a walk, but never running around.

We find that the earlier DS goes to bed the longer he sleeps. You may want to look at moving your bedtime up by 15 min increments and see how that goes. Since your DS is still going down for naps, I would definitely not drop them.
post #4 of 14
We recently went through something similar- I have to kids,a dn DS is a year older, and we DID drop his nap around 3 years old as with it he was awake until midnight or 1 am. BUT we did a massive overhaul to get them into bed earlier, and they are probably getting a little more sleep now (although still was on the low side of normal) Previously they wouldn't fall asleep until 10:30-11, but they are now in bed between 7:30-8. I had to do a major resetting of their body clocks, with getting them up earlier, out in daylight, moving the nap for my DD earlier, no TV after 3-4 pm, calm activities after dinner, etc. I got a lot of good advice and discussed what I did in this thread:
http://www.mothering.com/discussions....php?t=1240193 .

Maybe for now, get your DS up a little earlier (like 6:30) and then down for nap at maybe 11-12 for the 1.5 hours, then if he was up by 1:30, you could aim for 8pm for bed? If that all worked, you would have 10.5 hours at night plus 1.5 hours for nap, so total 12 hours, which would be better.

Good luck!
post #5 of 14
We're having the same issue here. Ds2 will be 2 next month and he takes around a two hour nap every afternoon, but the time isn't predictable. Then he's up until 2am. Ugh.

We skipped the nap one day, just to see if it would help him go to bed better at night. Around 8pm he started getting sleepy, but I knew that if I let him sleep then that he would wake around midnight and be up until 5am. So, we got a bath, had a snack, did stuff to try to keep him up until around 10pm. Finally he crashed around when I was hoping he would... only to wake up around 1am. He was up until around 4am. Needless to say, we've gone back to napping...

Good luck!
post #6 of 14
Both my DC gave up naps around 18-20 months. What happened with DD was that she would take a great nap, but then it would take 8-9 hours of wake time for her to fall asleep, putting her at around 10 pm or later bedtime. She just started taking longer and longer to go to sleep, finally up to about 2 hours. I can barely stay up that late. So, she was sleeping from 10 pm-7 am, and a 1 1/2 hour nap, 10 1/2 hours total sleep. I tried everything else first, earlier naptime (She'd happily nurse for hours until she was ready to nap) earlier bedtime (same thing). Woke her up earlier- cranky beastie all day long. Then, she stopped napping for DH on days I worked. So, we decided to try it for a week. It was a rough week for me, but she did great. Bed at 7, sleeps until 8 or 9 in the morning, for a total of 13 or 14 hours, go figure. The first week, we sometimes had to put her to bed as early as 5:30 if she was overtired. Every so often now, if she wakes up early for some reason, I'll put her to bed at 6 or 6:30. I wouldn't do without the nap if you can't do a substantially earlier bedtime, though. Especially the first couple of weeks, it could be really early while his little system adjusts. Every kid is different, I think you just have to follow your instincts and know that you can deal with whatever happens. If it works out badly, change it. Good luck!
post #7 of 14
I'd say if your gut is telling you to do it, then go for it -- there's no reason you can't just decide to go back to naps after a few days if it doesn't work out! We tried it with DS once and gave up after only one day -- that's all we needed to see that he clearly wasn't ready yet lol. But I was glad we tried because now I don't have that 'maybe he'd be happier if we got rid of naps' thing playing in the back of my mind every afternoon!

I would also agree with the pp that 10.5 hours of sleep is on the very low end... could you possibly help him to sleep a little later in the morning? DS goes to bed at 11:30pm but doesn't wake up 'til 10am... I can't imagine him waking up at 7 with such a late bedtime but then again he's only 18mos so maybe it's different with a 2.5 yo!
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
Oh how I wish he would sleep 14 hours! Or even 12!! I've read parts of No Cry Sleep Solution about putting them to bed early and they'll wake up the same time - totally doesn't work for us. He just gets up at 3 or 4am! I guess I could try 15 minute intervals earlier, but in general when I've tried 30-60 mins early it often takes that much longer to go to sleep. In general he's happy during the day, which makes me think he doesn't need that much more sleep. The main cranky time is after he wakes up from his nap, for an hour or so.

I tried reading stories before bed to wind down, but he likes the books too much and gets excited so it doesn't work. It basically takes an hour from when the lights are off for him to wind down. I sing and he nurses, but now he's into biting which he thinks is funny. I try to move far away and ignore him but he gets mad and cries. Eventually he crashes, sometimes I think I even fall asleep before him because it takes so long.

Sundaya - your schedule sounds similar to ours, with the 10pm-7am and 1.5 hour nap…. I'm amazed she slept longer overall without a nap - that's what I would wish for if we try this. I am concerned about sticking to earlier bedtimes - DH gets home around 6:30 or 7pm so I'd have to be really on top of things to have dinner done by 7ish and start bedtime routine by 7:30 or 8pm…. I don't know if I could ever do 6pm bedtimes! What happens when you are out for the day or go to dinner somewhere??

As for sleeping later in the morning - rarely he will sleep in to around 8 or so. It seems like every 10 days or so he does a catch up day and sleeps more than usual, but I already averaged that in to calculate 10.5 hours average sleep in 24 hours. There are plenty days he's only getting 9 hours (7 at night 2 nap for example). Amazingly he is often quite happy most of the day even with just 9 hours. We darkened our room and started using white noise to try to help - it helped for a while when he was in the habit of getting up at 5am (!) but we still get random early wakeups (4am! Up for a couple hours while I try to rock him down again, but he really just wants to play…). In general he is easily excited, sensory issues too.

I appreciate all the ideas so much! Please send me more! I think right now I'm going to try keeping the naps short (less than 1 hour) so that he goes to bed at a decent hour, then think about phasing them out… it would be so nice to avoid the afternoon crankiness!!
post #9 of 14
We had to be more careful with the early bedtimes in the beginning- it was like she had to learn to redistribute her energy. At first, she just didn't have any left by 6:30 or so. She just started waking up really early this week, though (like 4 am), so I think we're going to move bedtime later. It really wasn't very long that we had to do the very early, and your DS might be a bit different.

During the early times, if I knew we were going to do something later than 7, I'd have her take a nap, and just know we'd be up really late. It's all worked out. If she stays up later now here and there, she usually will sleep later in the morning. If not, and she needs to go to bed early one night, we do that. It's all a balancing act, depending upon what she needs. The biggest difference is that she's nursing to sleep in 15 minutes or less now, rather than hours, and sleeping longer and better at night, while being happy and not getting overtired, which is everything I wanted.
post #10 of 14
To me, waking up too early, waking up in the middle of the night, unhappy after naps, all that signals he ISN'T getting enough sleep. I know that sounds backwards but I've seen it with my own DS. We used to try to get him to sleep around 8pm. He would be up ALL NIGHT LONG it seemed -- more frequent wakings, wide awake at 3am, etc. When we found the right bedtime for him (11:30pm), he started sleeping longer stretches, waking up from naps happier, sleeping later in the morning to make up for the late bedtime... It was like night & day. It also sounds like your DS is really easy-going? Maybe I'm wrong but -- I have a high-needs DS so it's always much more apparent when he's sleep-deprived. So maybe you aren't seeing crankiness because he's just so easy-going -- but after naps he's still sleepy & that's when a little crankiness emerges?

Anyway, you know him best, so that's all just speculation.

One other suggestion, lately we've been telling DS stories at night instead of reading to him. We can keep the lights off & control the plot line & keep him laying down next to us, & somehow that seems to help him wind down better (he also gets very excited about books & will want to read them all night long!)
post #11 of 14
We were in the same boat a couple of months ago. DD would take a nap in the afternoon and had to be woken up within an hour or else she would not go to sleep at night. She would be very cranky for more than an hour after her nap and then would not fall asleep at bedtime until after 10 (almost 11 some nights, which is my bedtime), waking around 7. This type of sleep schedule was keeping dh and I from being the best parents that we could be and from being good, communicative partners with one another.

We finally decided that dd was either going to be cranky for 1-2 hours after a nap and make dh and I cranky by not going to sleep at night or if we kept her busy so that she didn't nap, she would be a little cranky from about 7:30 until 8, when we would bring her to bed. She would fall asleep easily and would then sleep soundly until 7 am, waking up happy, ready to party the day away. It works for us and makes us all like each other a little bit better. Every kid is different; some stop needing naps sooner than others.

I think for us, it took about a week for dd to accept no naptime and she still will sometimes sneak in a 15-20 minute nap, but for the most part, she now just needs a little down time in the afternoon and then gets back to playing.

ETA: We did what you are planning, shortening the naps to an hour for a while, maybe a couple of months like that and then cut them out completely when she started getting more cranky about being woken up from the nap than she would have been about missing the nap entirely.
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
Well, I don't really know what to think. We've been trying to skip naps for about a week. It turned out we picked a bad time to try because he got a mild cold, but it didn't seem to bother him much, so we kept with it. He makes it through the day ok - he gets pretty sleepy around nap time but then recovers - but nights have been really mixed. Some days he crashes at like 7pm, other days, he fights sleep till 10pm! Argh. He's had a bunch of early wake ups, like 3:30 or 4am, wants to play… I get him back to sleep around 6am but he only sleeps till 7am…!!

I totally agree that he is over tired, but I just don't know how to make him sleep more! He is clearly exhausted but won't settle down to sleep. He gets mad when the lights go off like we used to do. We had a decent routine before (even if it took 60+ minutes) and now it's been all messed up the last few weeks. My DS is not that easy going and definitely has some sensory issues - I guess that's probably part of why he can't fall asleep easily. But on days when he gets decent sleep he is generally happy. Even when he doesn't get that much he's usually ok.

So the last five days it's been all over the place with no naps:

bedtime - awake
10pm - 7am
8pm - 8:15am (12 hours! That was a first!)
9:30pm - 7:30am
7:30pm - 3:45am (nap 6:15-7am)
6:45pm - 5am
9:50pm - We'll see in the morning...

He's definitely not getting enough sleep (10 hours total on average in these five days). He was getting about 10.5 before with naps. And on the nights where he went to bed at 9 or 10pm, we started trying about 2 hours before and he was just fighting bedtime. Did we just miss the magic sleepiness window on those nights? So frustrating!!

I ordered 'Sleepless in America' from the library but haven't gotten it yet. Can anyone summarize some ideas for me? Or other tips?

post #13 of 14
2.5 is young to give up a nap and he is already on the low end of sleep. If he can fall asleep that quickly at that age he really needs his nap. The sleepiness/grogginess when he wakes up is usually a sign that he isn't getting enough sleep overall or at the nap. I'd consider trying to move up the nap one hour, moving up bedtime one hour, with an overall goal of getting him to sleep at 8 instead. What we found helpful is to make the adjustment in 15 minutes increments and move everything up a bit (dinner, bath) and add a longer story time. A longer story time makes a huge difference for DS. We read three stories and at least one of them is big like Choo Choo or full sized Seuss like the Sleep Book plus a medium size story like Little Blue Truck and one small board book. It may take him longer to settle down but I think he would adjust.
post #14 of 14
Based on those times it sounds like he sleeps roughly the same # of hours no matter when he falls asleep (aside from the one fluke 12-hour night!) -- so I would count 10 hours back from the time you want him to wake up... so maybe 9pm to wake at 7am... and I wouldn't start doing sleepy-time routines so early. Well we don't do bedtime routines at all so maybe my thoughts on that aren't valid, but it seems like a 2-hour routine is just way too long, 15-30 minutes might be a better transition??

I would also try to get the naps back in -- he's already sleeping so little, even if a nap means only an extra 1/2 hour of total sleep, he needs all he can get. The only way I can get DS to take a decent-length nap is if I nurse him back down just before he wakes up midway through.

I would really work on getting a more consistent bedtime (even if that's 10pm, you can always move it up once it's reliably consistent) -- he just sounds like he's all over the place...
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