Nighttime sleep is so important. Many people equate baby’s sleep as being in the same category as feeding. One friend told me sleep was far more important to their family than food! But baby/toddler sleep doesn’t only occur at night. An infant, of course, is not on a 24 hour sleep schedule. They sleep in intervals throughout the day and night. As a child gets older, they tend to fall into a routine of nighttime sleep with daytime naps. All is well and good.
What about when teething begins? And continues? Oh, and growth spurts, elimination changes, and finally potty training. These are just a few of those changes that interfere with a child’s naps. We all know what a child with a missed nap can be like. Oh the whining, punchy, overstimulated wildness we saw in our home when our daughter missed her nap!
So what do we do? We asked this question often and came to the conclusion that sometimes the nap happens, sometimes it doesn’t. But there ARE things you can try to help your child relax into a good nap! First, try a big meal. High carb lunches like sandwiches and spaghetti are examples. Next, put the child down BEFORE they become overtired. Try to stick with the same time (such as starting around 10 or 11, or 1 or 2) so your child is napping at the same time of day. Some kids cannot nap too late in the afternoon or they will not sleep at night. Ours could nap 3-6pm then go to bed for the night at 8. (Don’t get too jealous, she also didn’t sleep through the night until 18 months). Third, avoid letting them get strenuous activity right before a nap; kids need time to wind down a bit. Kids nap better when they have had good physical activity, just not immediately before going down for sleep. Fourth, put them in pajamas. Try to keep the nap routine similar to bedtime routine, sans bath. Finally, and this may seem silly, but try to stay calm. Appearing calm and relaxed (even when you just want them to TAKE A NAP ALREADY so you can get a break) helps them to feel calm and relaxed too.
Kids grow out of naps at different ages. However, most kids up to 2 require a daytime nap. It gives them much needed physical and mental rest and is part of typical development. So, do what you can to help them to get the healthy sleep they need. Happy Napping!