Is your child done napping?
My first daughter was never a super napper, but when we took her pacifier away at just over 2 years old, the whole nap went down the drain. We tried consistently for months to bring it back with lots of frustration. I finally gave into the sad reality when she was about 2 ½. At this point, I knew I had to set different expectations for our days. There was no way either of us could maintain our playful pace for the entire day. I accepted the fact that she may not go to sleep like other children her age, but we were both going to take a well-deserved break during that early afternoon time.
So, you’re struggling with your child’s nap? Check out my blog on nap frustration here.
Then, identify if the nap is really done. Let’s look at the ideal criteria:
- Your child is at least 2 ½ years old
- Sleeps through the night without awakenings (if they are waking throughout the night, they are have accumulated a sleep debt and will need that extra sleep)
- Has difficulty falling asleep at night after a nap (after your child naps in the afternoon, they won’t fall asleep until 9 pm or later)
Before completely eliminating the nap, start with capping the nap. If your child happily sleeps from 1-3 pm but then has difficulty falling asleep at night, their daily sleep needs may be met. So instead of cutting the nap cold turkey, shorten it by 15-30 minutes until you find a happy medium. In other words, you should wake your peacefully sleeping child at 2:30 pm.
If you have capped your child’s nap and they are still struggling to fall asleep at an appropriate time at night, then it’s time to ditch the nap.
So, your child is refusing their nap but you KNOW they are tired and need it. Try offering it earlier in the day, like 12:00 pm instead of 1:00 pm for several days. If you have made a consistent effort to bring back your child’s nap and don’t see any improvement, you can ditch the idea of sleeping during naptime.
Don’t let your toddler start rejoicing yet!
ENTER: QUIET TIME
Quiet time replaces nap time. It may not be as long as nap time but is still equally as important.
This period of time is used to let our children wind-down in the day. They may not sleep or even feel sleepy but we are offering them the opportunity to go into their quiet room and be free from distractions. Quiet time is also a sanity-saver for parents.
Most children and adults still feel a surge of fatigue in the early afternoon hours, around 1-2 pm. This is why it’s so critical for both parents and children to utilize quiet time as “down time”.
Your child can read books, play games, create imaginative play, draw, or listen to quiet music. I do not recommend letting your child use the iPad, phone, or TV during this time, as it is more stimulating than calming.
Each child’s limit for quiet time may be different. If your child is very young and high energy, you may want to start with 15-20 minutes and work up from there. I recommend quiet time being about 30-60 minutes every day.