I had a wonderful day with my tot recently. We took a trip to Castle Island so she could see the planes as close as she could while they were in flight. We went to the playground, ate a delicious picnic, painted and kicked around the soccer ball.
After a few hours it was time to pack up and head home for a nap. As we were driving I could see her chin hitting her chest and her eyes slowly closing. No! I think to myself. We need to make it home so you can snuggle in your bed and let’s be honest, so mommy can snuggle on the couch for a few. I do everything in my power to keep her awake. I tickle her feet, I sing songs (my voice could keep a black bear awake during hibernation) and I scream her name every time I see the head bob. Finally, we pull into our apartment complex. I pull up front, take her out of her car seat, she cuddles against my shoulder and I head inside.
I take off her shoes and jeans and do a quick diaper change. I lay her onto her bed with Suzy (her lovey), her favorite blankey and her binkie. I tip toe out of the room and cannot wait for the hour I may have to myself, when all of a sudden it happens...she springs out of bed like a jack in the box and is in the living room running, jumping and rolling like the energizer bunny. I think to myself, is this the same lethargic child I carried into our apartment just five minutes ago and what about our nap?
My first thought was that my daughter is now at the stage where she does not need a nap. Panic runs through me. Not that I don’t want to spend every moment of every day with her, but let’s be honest, nap time is quite a relief. I immediately head to laptop to research and mentally prepare myself for the no nap time scenario.
Kids usually start to say "no" to naps around the age 2 1/2 - 3. This does not mean nap time becomes obsolete, it's just that napping requirements start to flux. This happens until around age 5. Sigh. I am safe for a couple of more years...
What causes nap time battles?
• Independence: By now your toddler has probably become pretty autonomous. They do not want to follow rules and they love to be in control.
• Activeness: They have become extremely curious and dynamic so taking a break from the action is not something they are keen on.
• Changes: It may be that time that your tot is moved into a bed, or is trying to kick the binkie habit.
• Schedule differences: The daycare provider could be putting your tot down for a nap at a different time of day than you are.
• Overtiredness: Believe it or not, if your child is exhausted, they will have a harder time sleeping.
How does one hang onto the nap?
• Make sure you put your tot down for a nap in the same spot they sleep at night. Their crib/bed is the place where they associate their ZZZs with.
• Keep the consistency up. If there are several care providers during the week, for example daycare/family members watch your tot, make sure they nap time is around the same time and following the same routine.
• Record signals of sleepiness. For example yawing, or rubbing the eyes. Children have circadian rhythms. By knowing what the gestures are, it is easier to build a consistent nap schedule for each day.
• If your child refuses to nap on certain days, still provide them with quiet time. Have them read a book or play with a quiet toy in a dim room alone. Spending an hour or two without active play will still provide them with rest.
It is important that toddlers obtain the right amount of sleep. There are no rules to napping, but there is one main goal and that is to make sure that your tot is healthy and happy.
Here are some useful websites to help with your babies nap schedule:
“Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.” ~ Barbara Jordan