Is your 2 year old suddenly refusing to nap? Learn about the 2 year old nap strike and how you can make it through with naps still in tact!
Nap time is a sacred time, for both parents and toddlers.
We look forward to that break in the day and our babies and toddlers need that precious daytime sleep to optimize their days and nights.
Kids fight sleep for different reasons. But a nap strike doesn’t necessarily mean that your toddler is ready to drop their nap just yet.
Most toddlers go through a nap strike around 2 years old. Many parents think once their 2 year old starts refusing the nap that it’s time to eliminate it.
In reality, most kids still need a nap up until age 3 or 4. If you can push through the 2 year old nap strike with consistency and good sleep habits, you can make it past it with a midday nap still in place.
What Do You Do When Your 2-Year-Old Goes on a Nap Strike?
The first thing you need to do is remind yourself that the 2-year-old nap strike is very common and not irreversible.
The next thing you should do is consider how many naps you are expecting your two-year-old to take. If they are still napping at least once per day, that’s totally developmentally normal.
If your toddler is on a two-nap schedule and they are fighting one of their naps, now is a good time to drop the second nap and transition to a one-nap schedule.
But if your 2-year-old is on a one-nap schedule and they are fighting their only nap of the day, it’s time to step in and help them get back on track.
Why is My Toddler Refusing to Nap?
There could be all sorts of reasons that your 2-year-old suddenly goes on a complete nap strike.
Maybe there’s been a sudden change in your household, with the addition of a sibling or a new caregiver that’s thrown them for a loop.
Or maybe there’s been a change to their normal sleep routine, like they’ve recently transitioned to a toddler bed or weaned from the pacifier as a sleep aid.
It could also be that they are hitting some major developmental milestones like potty training, starting preschool, or learning new language skills. All of these things keep their brains busy, even when their bodies are tired.
Here’s what all of those nap strike causes have in common: they are transitional and temporary. If you let it, though, this nap time sleep setback could turn permanent.
While your headstrong toddler might be pushing your patience to the limit with a nap strike, there are ways to get through this bump in the road.
So what can you do when your 2-year-old is fighting their only nap of the day?
The bottom line is: don’t give up on naps just yet!
Is It Okay for a 2-Year-Old to Not Nap?
Letting your 2-year-old drop their nap for good isn’t something I recommend. Developmentally speaking, napping is still important. Your toddler can still really benefit from that midday recharge!
During the 2-year-old nap strike, you’ll likely notice that your toddler won’t nap but they are obviously tired. That’s because most kids still need to nap until the age of 3 or 4.
Your 2-year-old could still really use a 1 to 2.5-hour nap in the middle of the day.
If your 2-year-old is refusing to nap, treat it as a short-term issue. We can get you through this phase!
When you’re dealing with a 2-year-old nap regression, the best course of action is to keep offering naps consistently and incorporate a nap time sleep training technique.
Is My 2-Year-Old Done with Naps for Good?
The short answer to this question is no. But I don’t blame you for thinking they might be! Toddlers can be headstrong and very convincing.
Did you know this nap strike is mostly likely part of a 2-year-old sleep regression? It’s very common for toddlers to go through a nap regression at this age, but that doesn’t mean it’s a permanent change to their routine.
You don’t need to completely rework your 2-year-old’s nap schedule just because they’re refusing to nap. Instead, you can make small and temporary adjustments to their schedule while you work on the 2-year-old nap regression together.
What is an Ideal 2-Year-Old Sleep Schedule?
In the face of sleep schedule disruption, it’s easy to lose sight of what your toddler really needs. This is especially true when they are adamantly telling you what they want or don’t want and it’s contrary to what they need.
There are many factors that contribute to an optimal 2-year-old sleep schedule.
Try to keep in mind that your 2-year-old still needs between 12-14 hours of sleep every day. Whatever portion of that they don’t get during the night should be made up for during nap time.
How to Handle Your 2-Year-Old’s Nap Strike
If there are days when your toddler skipped the nap altogether, go ahead and move bedtime up by 30-60 minutes.
While you might worry this will lead to your baby waking up too early the next day, keep in mind that overtired toddlers are usually the ones who wake up too early. Most toddlers this age will make up for the lost nap time sleep overnight if you put them down before they get overtired.
The biggest thing you can do for your toddler is to stay patient and consistent in the face of a nap strike.
Here are some steps to take when you’re trying to help your toddler get through this phase:
Get a Toddler Clock
Get a toddler clock, like the Hatch Rest. Toddlers can’t tell time. They have no idea when nap time is over and may protest it because to them it feels like they’ve been in their room forever!
With the Hatch, you can make it red for bed and a different color when nap time is over. Giving them this tangible way to know that it’s time for sleep can really help!
Choose A Sleep Training Method
If you haven’t already, pick a sleep training method that feels right for you both. You can find the most effective sleep training methods for toddlers and how to do them in my Toddler Sleep Training Guide.
Boundaries and consistency are going to be the best ways to get through this 2 year old nap strike with successful naps on the other side. Continue to tell your toddler you expect them to lay down quietly for nap and continue to offer the nap at the same time each day.
Sleep setbacks can be so frustrating, especially with a vocal and stubborn toddler. Let me help you take some of the guess-work out of it all!
For more help in the midst of this 2-year-old nap strike and other toddler sleep problems, grab my Toddler Sleep Training Guide. It’s full of helpful information and strategies to get your toddler back on track and sleeping like a champ.