Naptime Help for Parents of Toddlers

Two-year-old Aimee gets very grumpy if she doesn’t get her nap, but since she sometimes needs to be babysat by grandma, she often finds herself not at home at naptime. Her mother, Liz wanted to make sure she would be comfortable napping somewhere other than her bed. To help grandma be able to put Aimee down for a nap, Liz uses Aimee’s favorite book as part of the naptime routine. That way, no matter what be she’s sleeping in, she can calm down and relax for naptime with something familiar.

When toddlers try to give up napping, it’s a problem for mothers as well. Overtired children are more prone to fussiness and accidents. Naptime gives both toddlers and mothers an essential break from the day’s activities.

Toddlers may resist naps for a variety of reasons including over stimulation and the lack of a schedule. Most often by refusing to nap they are just trying to exert their independence. While your two-year old may think he doesn’t need a nap, it’s probably still too early to give it up.

Toddlers often have problems napping through transitions periods. At 18 months, children usually move from two naps a day to one. The best time for the one a day nap is after lunchtime. To help ease this transition, try moving up lunch and naptime a little earlier for the first few weeks.

Tips for Making Naptime Easier

As children get older and they become more independent and involved in the world around them. Sometimes it’s hard for them to stop all the fun for naptime. Putting a child down for a nap can become a power struggle with tears from both mom and tot. Here are some tips to help make putting your child down for a nap easier.

  • Making sure your toddler has an active morning, not one in front of the television, can also make sure she’s ready when naptime rolls around.
  • Develop a set naptime and a naptime routine. Have a quiet time before the nap begins so that your child isn’t too wound up from playing.
  • While a little cuddle time is fine, don’t let your toddler get in the habit of being rocked to sleep or sleeping with you. If a child can calm herself enough to go to sleep, she’s less likely to be woken-up accidentally and more likely to be able to go back to sleep if she is awoken prematurely.
  • Whatever the routine, keep it short and simple. Remember, you’ll have to do this everyday.
  • Some ideas include reading a favorite book or singing a favorite song. Other kids like to put a doll or stuffed animal to bed before they put themselves to bed.
  • It’s not a good idea to let your child fall asleep on the couch in front of the television. It’s likely the nap will be interrupted when the TV. is turned off, gets particularly loud, or other family members come into the room.
  • It is also not a good idea to drive until your toddler falls asleep. He is likely to wake up when the car stops or he is moved to his bed. The nap is also likely to be shorter.
  • Be sure that the napping place is cool, quiet and comfortable. Most often children like to nap in the same place they go to bed at night. Sometimes, a fun napping location can help entice the toddler away from the many interesting things going on. Create a small haven in the corner of a room with a special blanket and pillow and some pictures of letters, animals, stars, or other favorites on the wall nearby.
  • Playing relaxing music can help a child drift off to sleep. Many mothers swear by Enya. There are also a number of children’s lullaby CDs available. Some toddlers respond best to the relaxing sounds of nature, which can also be found on CD.
  • Winding down is hard for a two-year old, but it can be even harder if a sibling is still up and going. Making the older child a part of the napping ritual can help. It helps the older child understand it is important for his brother or sister to take a nap, and the younger child worry less about missing out on something.
  • If the toddler is the older sibling, helping put the baby down for a nap may make her more accepting of her own napping needs.

When Your Naptime Plan Doesn’t Work

When a routine doesn’t work, it’s important to stay firm but calm. Try to avoid a big battle. Give your child a hug, tuck them in and leave the room. If he cries, return after a few minutes to soothe him by rubbing his back or stroking his hair. Once again, tell him it is naptime, tell him what you will do after he is done with the nap, and then leave the room. Do this a couple of times, but don’t remove the child. Soon he’ll get the idea.

About 25 percent of toddlers give up naps altogether by the time they are 3. If your child absolutely refuses to nap, still put her down for “quiet time” after lunch. Leave her with quiet toys and books and turn on gentle music. After an hour, she won’t feel as rested as if she had napped, but she still will be happier, and so will mom.

For more tips on napping and healthy children’s sleep patterns visit keepkidshealthy