You have probably heard and seen many battles. Have you ever tried to but a toddler to nap against their will? If you have then you would know what it feels like to be in a battle field. Here’s the deal, I try and analyse reasons why some toddlers and kids just won’t nap and you give me one tried and tested way to win this battle. I strongly believe in the power and benefits of hope and hence I always tried to get my toddler to nap at my chosen times. Naps are honestly, great for everyone. We all know that naps refresh our moods and help us to be more attentive.
We all have days, when we want our kids to nap so that we can nap or may be finish some pending chores. It does not need any expert view on, what happens when toddlers and kids miss a nap. The end result is a overstimulated, cranky and grumpy human being. There are always exceptions to a rule and then there are exceptions to kids napping at regular intervals too!
My one and only piece of heart has funny relationship with sleep. Through his phases of infanthood and being a toddler, he has always found sleep extremely boring. I must have outdone the number of times someone uses google in a day. I read and read all about sleep training, different ways and means to get my little one to sleep longer and about all other things related to sleep. Eventually, I concluded he falls amongst the category of rare kids who can suffice with maximum 9 to 10 hours of sleep at his age. I realised, that if I had to get him to nap or sleep well, he needed to have enough playtime including some outdoor time too.
There are two major reasons why toddlers won’t nap or find it difficult to nap.
- They are overtired
- Kids are distracted or overstimulated.
- They are old enough to have a nap schedule.
Often, we have heard advices about how kids will fall asleep when they are tired, so we must tire them out. Unfortunately, it works in an opposite manner. Kids and toddlers find it extremely difficult to nap and sleep when they are overtired. Look for signs of crankiness, moisture in the eyes, blinking of eyes or not being able to focus. All these relate to a tired and sleepy child. Children find it extremely difficult to fall asleep when they over exhausted.
Excitement and Distractions
When trying to formulate a persistent sleeping plan for my child, I would have a lot of people tell me, how their kids slept through any noise! However, if you want me or my child to sleep, we need dim or no lights and a silent surrounding. Excitement and distractions will overstimulate your toddler and would make them skip naps. It will also disrupt their sleep cycle too. Try picking up your toddler from in between a game they were playing and get them to nap! Kids resist napping when they are still napping or think of sleep as something that disrupts their play.
Outgrown their nap time
Children tend to lose sleep or have disrupted sleep when they are going through a growth spurt. Check for any changes in their development and growth pattern. Older kids usually will have little or no nap times at all.
One practice that works for me is to make sleep time interesting. We start of with bath and books on most days and it works. As a 6-year-old, he definitely doesn’t need a daily nap. However, there are days when I am exhausted or he is exhausted, it always helps to put him to bed for a little while. There are days when we bargain over some naptime too. In order to get your toddler to nap, here is something you may want to try on a daily basis.
- Consistency in their nap schedule
- If they go to day care and nap at day care, then try and follow the same schedule at home too
- Do not panic on days when they miss their nap, just try putting them to bed early instead
- Ensure your child’s bedtime routine is not disrupted, this will hamper their day sleep cycle too.
Also, kids who become dependent on a particular sleep method, may find it hard to sleep if that changes. For example, my little boy still needs me around to fall asleep at bedtime. We are trying to change this habit through a lot of reassurances. I tell him that his parents and care-givers are in the house in case he needs anything at all. We have also been able to get him to catch some sleep when we are travelling. The concept that our body needs some rest to be able to enjoy and have fun, seems to work for us 😊
In case you are unsure of how long should your toddler sleep for, this nap schedule comes in very handy however feel free to use your discretion too!
Even if your child decided to skip naps completely, I think it is imperative to practice some quiet time with them. In times of the lock down, where kids have no means to have outdoor play, it helps to engage them if different activities that help them stay engaged and involved. Forcing sleep never works (believe me when I say this), we can only work on their routines and understand their body cycle. Hence, for every parent who is struggling with toddler nap times and sleep cycle, don’t worry too much, if you have an active, happy and healthy child!