Babies begin to take one nap approximately between the ages of 11-15 months. Before you know it, though, they'll be running around fighting their one and only nap and you will be wondering, "can this be happening so soon!?" If your child is under 2.5 years old, they are probably too young to drop their nap but there is no set day on the calendar for when this will happen.
Some children drop their last nap earlier than others, and some continue to want (or need) their nap until age 4 or 5! So when do we know it's the "right time" to drop it completely?
Even if your child formally drops their nap at daycare or at home on a regular basis, you may still catch them falling asleep in the car or on the couch in the late afternoon when they simply can't keep their eyes open. This is a tricky time for both you and your child - bedtime becomes a struggle and they don't even always wake up in a good mood. It's a bit of push and pull and we, as parents, often feel the struggle in these moments.
There have been many times when parents feel that their child is on the precipice of dropping the nap but isn't quite ready yet. Car naps, "recovery naps" as we call them, are sometims necessary just for the 30-60 minutes to ensure it happens! Although we don't encourage teaching your child to fall asleep in the car while sleep training, this may be an evil necessary to squeeze in that one last bit of sleep when needed, as this age. But as they get a bit older, you may find it's time to drop their one and only nap.
What are some tell tale signs?
they are taking FOREVER to fall asleep at nap time
they are fighting you HARD about wanting to sleep at nap time
bedtime becomes a huge struggle
bedtime is much later than you'd like it to be on days that he/she naps
If you find that any of these points are causing a huge conundrum in your household, hold off on the nap and simply put your child to bed earlier.
If they typically go to bed at 7:00 PM, try 6:00 PM a day with no nap!
If they typically go to bed at 6:30 PM, try 7:00 PM on a day with a nap!
You can start to be flexible about bedtime at this age, following wake windows "less" strictly and simply following your child's cues. Remember, as kids get older, they need less sleep per 24 hours so you will need to account for that when you calculate a realistic bed time. With only needing 11-12.5 hours total per day by age 3, the schedule may need to shift and you will have to do some trial and error to see what works best for your family.