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Solved! The Mysteries of Toddler Naps

Know When to Stop

How will you know for sure that your child's napping days are numbered? "A toddler is ready to begin giving up naps when she remains consistently awake and alert at the usual sleep time," says Dr. Givan. Another sign: Your child is still napping, but has started to stay up much later at night or get up much earlier in the morning.

Still, the transition to staying awake all day can take several months and require much patience. "One nap may be too many, but going without one at all may leave your child tired and cranky," says Cuthbertson. Her solution: Skip the nap, but move up dinner and bedtime. In fact, many kids stick with the earlier tuck-in time, which can be an unexpected bonus for parents.

Another smart strategy: Change nap time to quiet time, and instead have him spend 45 minutes or so each afternoon playing or reading quietly. Now that Robin Ross's twins seem to have given up their nap for good, she credits quiet time with saving her sanity, not to mention the work of reassembling their room every afternoon. "Whenever I'd put them down for a nap, I'd be so nervous about what they might be doing in there alone that I'd check on them constantly," Ross says. "Now that we spend the time reading or coloring together, it's actually more restful. I'm finally in tune with their sleep needs  -- and we're all a lot happier."