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Getting Your Toddler to Nap

Updated on October 10, 2011
Have a peaceful nap time.
Have a peaceful nap time.

Naps are a beautiful thing. If you are a stay at home mom, your child's nap time may be the only quiet time in your day, allowing you to rest or complete the many tasks that you can't get done with a little one under foot.

Once your child starts exploring the world around them at full speed, it may be difficult to get them to slow down and take a much needed nap. The following tips will help you get your toddler or preschooler to nap.

Tips for the Reluctant Napper

The last thing you want in your day is another "battle time" with your child. Nap time can be a peaceful transition in your home, from active play to peaceful rest. You need it. Your child needs it. It is worth the effort to develop a napping plan to help you both get what you need!

Each child is different and you may have to try different approaches to discover what works best for him.

  • Create a nap time routine, just like you have a bedtime routine. It doesn't need to be long, but simply serve as a signal to your child that it is time for a rest.
  • Choose the same lullaby music or white noise consistently for nap time to create a strong sleep cue.
  • Make sure the room is dark. Some children are extremely sensitive to light and cannot fall asleep easily if it isn't dark enough in their room.
  • Avoid allowing your child to get started on a new or interesting activity before nap time. If they become deeply involved in what thy are doing, they will become even more resistant to taking a nap. Try giving them a nap directly following an activity with a definitive ending, like right after lunch time.
  • Don't announce nap time. Just transition your child into your nap time activities, like reading a book or turning on the music.

Know when to give in. If you have been trying to get your child to sleep for 20 minutes and they are still smiling at you with bright eyes, it is entirely possible that they simply are not tired enough to sleep. Let them get up and play for an hour and try again later.

Many children naturally change their own sleep schedule as they grow. Be flexible enough to allow for these naturally changes. Most children under four need a daily nap, but not all. If your child shows no signs of being tired, is full of energy during nap time and doesn't get cranky, consider taking a day off from their nap. Eventually, as much as every mom wants to keep nap time going on forever, they are going to out grow the need for a nap. Try putting them to bed a little earlier every night to make sure they are getting adequate rest.


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    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

      Thank you meg and mamahops! I dread the days when nap time isn't meant to be - but it does happen - more frequently as they get older. :)

    • profile image

      mamahops 8 years ago

      Naptime is tricky - thanks for the advise and insight. And it's true - sometimes it just isn't meant to be.

    • megs78 profile image

      megs78 8 years ago from quebec

      I agree, naptime is VERY important to the stay-at-home mom. You really hit the nail on the head. Cheers!