Fussing Over Your Child's Naptime
Every parent knows this familiar scenario all too well: Your toddler gives all the signals of being exhausted and needing sleep — she yawns and rubs her eyes, flops on the floor, and bursts into tears of frustration at the slightest thing — but she still won't go down for a nap.
There actually is a very simple explanation: Toddlers fight the urge to rest because they are too interested in what's going on around them. Your curious toddler has so much to see and do and is afraid that if she sleeps, she'll be missing out on something!
Also, your child is beginning to understand that she's separate from you and is her own person, so she asserts her independence whenever she can. Refusing to take a nap is one way she can take control away from you.
What can a parent do?
Scale back your expectations
As a baby, your child probably napped two or three times a day, but now that he's a toddler, he'll move gradually to one nap a day.
By 18 months, he probably won't be sleeping in the morning. When the morning nap disappears, try moving the afternoon nap earlier, to just after lunch. Waiting until later may push bedtime to later at night, since your child won't feel like sleeping just a few hours after waking from an afternoon nap.
Keep nap time consistent from day to day
Toddlers need a routine to feel secure. If your child goes through the same steps each day, she'll know what to expect, and you can hope she'll be more compliant. For example, if she usually reads three books before you tuck her in, make sure you don't skip this activity even if you're pressed for time.
When your toddler is home with you, make sure she naps in the same place she sleeps at night. Don't give in to demands to nap on the couch or in your bed. This will help her associate her own crib or bed with sleep and help her wind down more quickly.
Make sure your toddler falls asleep on his own at night
Once he's mastered drifting off on his own during bedtime without being rocked, nursed, or lulled to sleep, he'll be able to do so during the day. If the bedtime routine needs work, now is the time to start.
Stay firm but calm
Although it's frustrating having to deal with a toddler who won't nap, the best thing you can do is not show him that he's getting to you. Try to avoid making nap time a battleground. Just tell him that he looks tired and needs to rest. Then give him a hug and a kiss, tuck him in, and leave the room. If he cries, check in with him and try to soothe him but don't lie down next to him. If you do, he'll get used to falling asleep only when you're there, and you'll have another set of problems on your hands.
If he absolutely refuses to nap, leave him with some toys and books and tell him it's quiet time. Although he won't feel as rested as he would if he'd slept, having a quiet an hour or two will certainly help support his energy.
As a full-time child daycare in St. Augustine, rest assured T’s Learning Center wants your child to be happy and well rested (and you too!); so please let us know what we can do while your child is here to keep his nap as routine as possible!