Around age two, many children start to have periods of nap regression. Despite their behavior and resistance to naps, all two-year-olds need a daily nap for their health, growth, development, demeanor, and to be honest, your sanity.
Want to keep your two-year-old’s nap?
Here are three reasons why your two-year-old stopped napping and how to fix it:
Possible Nap Issue #1: The Timing is Off
With naps timing is everything - we want your child’s nap to occur in accordance with their circadian rhythms.
Circadian What? We all have certain times each day that our bodies want to sleep. These times change as we grow, but they are age based and predictable. If we can sleep during one of these times, we will have the easiest time falling asleep and the sleep that occurs during these “sleep waves” is the most restorative and beneficial to our bodies.
Often times as our kids get older, we become more relaxed about their nap times and we let naps start a bit too late. If we miss the sleep wave associated with a child’s circadian rhythm, not only will your child not have the power of this sleep wave to help them drift off, but they will also become overtired.
When we become overtired, our bodies release stress hormones to keep us going and we experience a second wind. Once this happens, it is very hard for a child to settle and fall asleep because these stimulants give their bodies a jolt of energy.
Often parents mistake this overtiredness for their child not being tired and/or not needing a nap, when in fact, the opposite is true! They need more sleep, not less sleep!
Fine-tune your child’s schedule to ensure they are napping at the proper time and are able to go down before they become overtired.
At age two, your child should be falling asleep for his nap sometime between 12:30 and 1:00pm. Some kids are very sensitive and missing this window by even 15 minutes can cause a skipped nap. Reset your child’s clock and aim to have them asleep by 12:30 p.m. for one week to see if it your child falls asleep easier.
Patience and consistency is important! You will need to attempt this nap for more than a few days – commit to one week of an early naptime.
Possible Nap Issue #2: Your Child’s Need For Independence
At two years old, a child’s need for independence begins to grow. Their need to have control over situations from putting on their shoes to buckling their seatbelt can carry over to their sleep. Falling asleep is not a decision we can make for them. As a result playing during their name becomes a play for independence.
A two year old’s quest for knowledge is never ending – so take that love and use it to your advantage!
At dinner, on a day that a nap was skipped, ask your child how they feel. Likely, the answer will not be some form of “grumpy.” Take that opportunity to explain that the reason they feel cranky is because they didn’t take a nap! Talk about how sleep makes us feel good and allows us to have the energy we need to do fun activities.
Use their need for independence to your advantage. Tell your child that the decision is theirs: they can choose to take a nap and feel great and have the energy to play before bed or they can choose to skip their nap and feel too tired to do fun things and will have to go to bed early. It is their choice to make, but either way they have to stay in their bed for the full nap time. When you put the ball in their court and let them decide, they usually choose sleep!
Possible Nap Issue #3: A Developmental Leap
Anytime your child is mastering a new cognitive skill it is very common for naps to be impacted – no matter their age. At age two, your child is still mastering many concepts and their vocabulary is growing. As our kids do not get a lot of alone time during the day, nap time is the perfect time to be alone and master these new skills! As a result, some children will skip their nap all together and some talk to themselves for 90 minutes before passing out just before nap time is usually over.
Do nothing. As tempting as it is, going in and telling your child to go to sleep will just exacerbate the issue and will not result in a nap! This will most will mostly lead to nap issue #2 (listed above) So the best thing we can do for them is just leave them be. If they do not sleep, make it up with an early bedtime so they do not become overtired and continue to offer the nap at the correct time. It will come back.
Well Rested Baby is a team of certified sleep consultants that helps families like yours identify, address, and correct their children’s sleep issues. WRB works with moms and dad’s to create customized sleep plans that reflect a family’s comfort level and philosophies. When paired with WRB’s 360-approach, the entire family is set up for sleep success. WRB offers a variety of support packages. Contact WRB today to schedule a consultation or learn more about how we can help you and yours get the sleep you need and deserve.