What To Do When Your Little Says "No No No" To Naptime!
Image taken from "No Naptime for Janie!: A Hanukkah Tale" By Margie Blumberg
Today we're going to chat about naptime and how not to stress when your little decides a nap is no longer serving them. It's only natural that as your little gets older, they will begin to refuse taking a nap. There's too much exciting stuff to do in one day! For many of you, naptime is a time where you as a parent or caretaker can take a little break and get a nap in yourself, get work done, or indulge in some self care. So, I'm sure you are a little hesitant about this new "no nap" chapter. Hopefully by the end of this article and with a little patience, you will find that dropping the nap did wonders for you and your little.
On average, toddlers by age 3 are ready to ditch their nap, but many are ready at 2/12. At this point, your little really only needs 12 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. Think of it this way...if your child is still taking an afternoon 2 hour nap, they are probably only sleeping 10 hours at night, BUT if they ditch the nap, they will sleep alllllllll night. A caveat to this is that every toddler is different. I only hope that this works magic for all of you and your littles, but this may take time, tears, and adjustment. Practice patience and know that your little is a big learner and will adapt quickly and so will you!
Here a few scenarios to gently encourage you to drop the nap. I will later offer suggestions that can replace the nap.
You decide to keep the nap. You lay your little down and with a resounding "NO!" not only in words but body language and behavior, your little refuses the nap and never falls asleep. Then you spend 2 hours hoping your little tires out, but they never do. They either constantly get up or cry and scream. Your little is then emotionally exhausted and so are you.
They happily and easily take a nap, but then bedtime rolls around and it takes a struggle and 2 hours or more for them to fall asleep. Or they may fall asleep easily, but are waking up at very early hours of the morning like 5 or 6 AM.
Try: Taking the nap away and trading it with 30-45 minutes of independent quiet time. Find something that they can do alone and that isn't too energy inducing. A nice quiet activity is coloring or doing a craft while listening to soft music, reading a book, or playing with toys alone. This way you still get a little break while they are occupied. Many of us believe we can just go go go nonstop and your little definitely thinks this way, but a quiet reset break is sometimes more beneficial than sleep. You can set a timer, so that your little knows how long the quiet time will last. You may want to start with 15 minutes and work up to 30-45 minutes.
You can also try shortening the nap to just an hour or an hour and a half. If you implement this technique, wake your little up once you've hit the time allotted. Bedtime may also have to adjust as you shorten naptime or even ditch naptime. Your little may start going to bed earlier if they are ditching the nap or later if they are still taking an hour or hour and half nap.
It may take your little 4-6 weeks to adjust to this new pattern and it's okay if you need some adjustment time as well. I think you will both find freedom and ease once the new routine sticks!
Cheers To No Nap Days!