2-Year-Old Nap Strike – How To Survive It?

2-Year-Old Nap Strike - How To Survive It?

After a long busy day with your little one exploring the world around them, you look forward to making it to their nap time. This downtime is a game-changer: your toddler needs to restore their energy while you deserve a much-needed break.

However, as toddlers are getting older and absorbing so much from their surroundings they have no time for those boring naps and may even go on a nap strike! But as the day goes by, they become increasingly cranky and over-tired, wreaking their toddler havoc on mankind.

It can leave you wondering if you’ve reached the end of the road and naps are a thing of the past, but let me tell you that this toddler nap strike is pretty common and you can help them get back to their nap schedule with consistent efforts and nap training.

This 2 or 2.5-year-old nap strike that is driving you to the edge of sanity may be due to a developmental change or the newly-found independence of toddlerhood.

Since a proper sleep routine is crucial to a child’s development, I bring you answers and advice on how to deal with these nap time battles.

This article is not a substitute for medical advice or consultation.

What Is A Nap Strike?

A nap strike is a temporary and transitional phase where a previously well-napping toddler starts resisting nap time.

Many parents tend to think their two-year-old is ready to skip naps, but this is not the case. If you stay consistent and tweak their sleep schedule, you can avoid this temporary change from progressing into a permanent routine.

Most toddlers need 12-14 hours of sleep per day, 1-2 hours of naps of daytime sleep and the rest at night.

As your little one enters the 2nd year of life, they might drop their second nap1. If they appear well-rested and happy, this is fine. But the real deal begins when your 2-year-old starts skipping naps altogether, resulting in an overtired toddler and even more exhausted parents.

Keep reading to learn how to tackle the nap strikes while navigating your two-year-old through daily naps and growth leaps.

How Do I Deal With My 2-Year-Old Nap Strike

How Long Is The 2-Year-Old Nap Strike?

The nap strikes usually last for a few days to weeks2, especially after the second-year mark, but when your toddler is refusing to nap on a daily basis, this can seem like eternal torture.

With the right strategies and consistency, you can break their nap strike and get them to resume their afternoon nap routine.

Is It Okay For 2-Year-Old To Skip Naps?

No, it is not healthy for a two-year-old to skip their naps.

A child usually stops napping around the age of 3 to 4. Before this age, they are not equipped to change their routine on their own and need enough sleep with a normal schedule.

Your 2-year-old needs at least one nap of an hour or two along with 10-11 hours of nighttime sleep for optimal development and growth.

Nap Strike Vs. Sleep Regression

A nap strike occurs when toddlers test the boundaries by exerting their independence and refusing to nap. It is not caused by any changes in sleep habits.

Whereas sleep regression is triggered by developmental changes or other conditions like teething or illness. Since you’re well aware of the sleep regressions3 you braved in the earlier months, you might notice a similar pattern in your child waking up frequently in the night, having a hard time falling asleep, etc.

This is different from a toddler avoiding normal nap time just because they are too busy being themselves and cannot waste their precious time on sleeping.

2 Year Old Nap Strike

Why Has My Toddler Stopped Napping?

Many parents assume it is just a developmental leap but there are various factors that can contribute to nap strikes.

If the 2-year-old nap strike persists beyond days, find out the triggers behind their nap strike which could be any of the following:

They Are Over-Tired

When toddlers are over-tired, they struggle to fall asleep because their fight or flight response is initiated. It releases a certain hormone called cortisol, which keeps them alert. Hence getting them to sleep can be quite frustrating.

Little Explorers Are Discovering The World

A toddler’s brain is like a sponge. They are soaking up new things from their surroundings all the time, and when you’re that busy, who has the time or care for a nap? This is where the parents come in and help these tiny tots get the much-needed sleep they need.

They Are Overstimulated

Sometimes, a tickle session right before nap time or the residual caffeine from that chocolate treat from lunch dessert can leave your little one over-stimulated. Playing with too loud or flashy toys around nap time can also stimulate your child. If they are too energized, it is quite difficult to get them to fall asleep.

Sudden Shift In Household

A massive change in the normal household like a new sibling, or a new caretaker can lead to changes in their nap routine.

A transition like weaning from the pacifier or moving to the toddler bed can also be the reason behind a nap strike.

Hitting A Milestone

When toddlers get to a new developmental milestone, naps can be the first thing to go.

This could be anything like potty training, starting preschool, working on a new language, or learning new skills. With all these activities, nap strikes are quite common.

What’s interesting, during a growth spurt your child may also… be more sleepy! If you think your toddler is sleeping more than usual read this article.

Napping At The Wrong Time

When your toddler takes a nap at the wrong time, this will result in delayed bedtime and they won’t be able to fall asleep as they do in a normal routine. This will also push the wake-up time further.

Why Has My Toddler Stopped Napping
Source: storkcraftdirect.com

How Do I Deal With My 2-Year-Old Nap Strike? – 11 Tips

It is very common for toddlers to stop napping after the 2-year mark. With these tips, you can bring back naps and help transition them back to a normal routine:

  • Consistency is key

Offer naps to the baby at the same time every day. A consistent sleep schedule will break the nap strike and the baby will eventually fall asleep during nap times in a matter of 2-3 weeks.

Do not tweak the entire sleeping schedule, just make small adjustments to it.If your child does not sleep even after an hour since the initiation of nap time, end the attempt and remove them from their bed. Reset the schedule by commencing play or bath time.

  • Nap training

Experts believe it is best to start nap training children around 3-5 days after starting night sleep training. Also, keep your eyes peeled for awake windows because once babies are sleepy, nap training will become incredibly hard.

  • White noise machine

Turn on the white noise machine about 30 minutes before nap time to get your toddler sleeping.Since children are more stimulated during the day, you might have to resort to higher noise than your nighttime favorite.

  • Quiet time

This one is for parents who are on the verge of giving up on naps.Quiet time is when you let your child engage in a quiet activity so they get a break from sights, sounds, and other stimulating activities. This calming strategy helps the toddler sleep.

Put your 2-year-old down for 30 minutes of quiet time in their bed with soft toys/figurines, books, building blocks, etc. Engaging in quiet play 3-4 times a day in their room is a good idea so they do not associate their room with boring naps.

  • Darken the room

Use heavy curtains that block light from the outside and turn on the nightlight. While you are at it, remove stimulation like noisy toys to encourage nap time.

  • Reinforce with compliments

Pretend to talk with your child’s toy and appreciate your child for getting a good nap the other day. This indirect compliment will make your child embrace nap time better.

  • Practice patience

This is the most important tip. Please stay calm and patient when you offer naps during nap strikes. The only way to get through this is to keep your eyes on the prize and be patient with your toddler. It is all worth it!

  • Adjust the bedtime

If your child does not sleep during nap time, you can move up the bedtime by 30-60 mins. Also, reduce the nap time by 15-30 minutes so they are overtired and sleepy by the end of the day, and fall asleep earlier.

  • Consistent morning wake-up time

Despite a changed bedtime, you can encourage your child to nap by keeping a regular morning wake-up time. When they wake up at the same time every day, they will resort to napping.

  • Comfort them

Read a story to them. Lay with your child so they know they are secure, comforted, and loved. When they fall asleep, shift them to their crib. Sometimes, it helps to take them on a drive.

  • Ensure an active morning

Toddlers are little balls of energy. Make sure your child gets a lot of activity in the first half of the day so when they rest in their crib or toddler bed later they can revive their energy for round two.

Toddler Sleep & Nap Strike – FAQ

A toddler nap strike can leave you frustrated and struggling, but take it from another parent, your child can return to napping peacefully tucked in their bed if you stay consistent. What works for one kid may not work for the other so choose what you deem best.

Toddler Nap Strike

How Much Sleep Does A Toddler Need?

For a 1-year-old, a total of 12-16 hours of sleep4 is recommended.

Between the age of 1-2, kids need 11-14 hours of sleep5 (including naptime).

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, around 11 hours of sleep6 is important for kids aged 3-5.

How Long Should Toddler’s Naps Be?

A regular toddler nap should range from 1-2.5 hours.

How Long Should You Let A 2-Year-Old Cry At Nap Time?

If you agree with the crying-it-out method, it is ideal to start with short intervals initially. If the crying continues for more than 5 minutes, enter their room and soothe them (back rubs work perfectly) until they calm down. Then leave. If they cry again, repeat the process until they fall asleep.

How Important Is Sleep To A Toddler’s Development?

Sleep plays a crucial role in a toddler’s development7. It helps them grow, recharge energy and retain all the things they absorb from their surroundings.

It also affects their learning, memory, mental and physical growth, and motor skill development.

How Do I Know When My Toddler Is Ready To Drop The Nap?

If your child is having trouble falling asleep at nap time as well as bedtime, and they don’t exhibit sleepiness on days without naps, that’s your cue that your toddler is ready to drop the nap.

When Are Toddlers Usually Done Napping?

The average age at which toddlers stop napping for good is around 3-4 years.

Should I Encourage My Toddler To Nap?

Yes, you should definitely encourage your toddler to nap.

Your consistency and patience can help toddlers nap happily. You can create a nap-friendly environment with the following ideas:

  • Remove stimulation
  • Darken their room
  • Take them for a drive
  • Quiet time on their bed
  • Cuddle and rock them
  • White noise machine

Tips to encourage nap in toddlers:

  • Adjust bedtime
  • Stick to your nap routine
  • Be watchful of wake windows
  • Optimize sleep conditions
  • Introduce special blanket or soft toy
  • Compliment a good nap
  • Fun activities in the morning that will eventually tire them out (be be careful of overstimulation and overtiring)

The purpose of this article is informative. It’s not a substitute for professional medical advice or medical care. Remember: safety first! Consult your doctor/pediatrician in case of any doubts. The author of this article does not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here.









About Me - Zooey BarnettHello Moms! I am Zooey. I am a wife and a mother of three amazing kids: almost 5-year-old Haley and 2-year-old twins Jesse and Matthew. I am a jogger, cooker and blogger.

If you have a question or a comment, do not hesitate to write to me! 🙂

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