When does a toddler drop their day sleep?

Kinderling News & Features

Every Monday, Kinderling Helpline’s resident child expert Chris Minogue tackles your tricky parenting questions with our host Shevonne Hunt. Recently one mum sent us an SOS, asking:

“What age do toddlers drop their day sleep? My two-and-a-half year old will not have a day sleep at home. At kindy, she will sleep easily. If she does, she’ll take a long time to fall asleep at night. Is that a sign she’s able to drop the daysleep?”

Chris' advice? "Absolutely. Around two-and-a-half is when most toddlers start to need less sleep and you’ll see it with these classic signs, including difficulty getting them to sleep during the day, and then if they do sleep, it’s really difficult to get them to bed at night. [It could be] as late as 9pm.”

Listen to Chris on Kinderling Helpline:

Try resting rather than sleeping

If your child does ditch their daytime snooze, Chris warns that they can get testy later in the afternoon as their energy wanes, which means witching hours might get even more wicked for a while.

To help with this, Chris advises scheduling some downtime or quiet activities around the same time they used to sleep. “They may not go to sleep, but it does quieten them for a little bit, and gets them a bit rested,” she suggests before adding “[Later as they get older], that won’t work and they’ll just be up for 12 hours.”

Still dozing at daycare?

As for daycare, that’s a different story. Chris says kids will still sleep there because “everyone’s going to sleep, they darken the room, they lay down, some [carers] will pat the children. Also the children are much busier at daycare.”

If sleeping one day but not the next is causing chaos, Chris advises to be consistent and consider dropping the day sleep across the board, which means discussing the decision with your daycare teachers.  “You’ll need to inform the daycare or preschool that we’re now doing that and you’d like your child to sit and read while everyone else might be sleeping,” says Chris.

It may be sad to say goodbye to those day sleeps (or halftime breaks as we call them), but at least, you can look forward to your little one enjoying a bigger sleep at night. That’s how it works, right?  

Check out Chris' book Bringing Baby Home on the Pan McMillan website.