Milestone Monday – this is my daughter and I a month or so before she turned three (she is already 6- boo). This is her nap story and it’s glorious ending. I thought it was worth sharing as I have been receiving far too many emails from parents of 2 year olds who think their child no longer needs a nap. Hint – they are wrong! Interested? I wrote it about three years ago when I was one of those parents. Enjoy!
WRB Sleep Tip – Toddler Napping Tribulations
I have an almost 3-year-old daughter. Since the arrival of her sister six months ago, her naps had been sporadic – happening about 4 times a week. On the days she did nap, it often took her up to an hour to settle before she took a measly one-hour nap. At first it greatly stressed me out as I know she still needs the sleep, but then I began to relax a bit seeing that she was making up for the missed sleep on those no nap days with a super early (think 5:30) bedtime. I still offered the nap daily and left her in her bed for a full two hours – nap or not. She expects this and enjoys the alone time…choosing to talk to herself and sing when she chooses not to sleep. Many a parent may assume this to mean that the above scenario meant so no longer needed a nap, but it does not as a two year old child is very much still in need of a nap (please read this for more). Now, in toddler sleep 101 you learn that when this nap boycott happens the child has likely become overtired before they are put down for their nap. This often occurs as our toddlers’ age and we become more lax about nap times and the starting time slips later and later. The fix for this is to move naptime back up a bit for a week or so and like magic – voila the nap comes back. Even though I knew this fun fact, I couldn’t consistently implement it as she goes to school 3 days a week and doesn’t get home until about 12:45. So in my new role as mother of two, I neglected fixing this nap issue and it went on for several months. In April, she was off from school for the week and it dawned on me – this is the perfect chance to try to repair that nap! In the back of my mind, I was actually a bit doubtful that I was going to fix anything. I thought I had let it go on too long and this new bad habit was going to be the norm, but I moved her nap earlier every day that week from her usual 1pm to having her in her bed by 12:15pm. The first five days nothing much changed and she kept to her same antics, but low and behold on day six she went right to sleep and took her old two-hour nap. And then it happened on day seven too! Two months later it is still happening today. I did shift her nap back to 1pm on the days that she is in school and on the other days I try to get her down just a few minutes earlier around 12:30-12:45, but I can count on one hand the times that she has skipped her nap since the beginning of May.
The Tip Take-Away: Don’t be too quick to assume your child is all done napping…or like me become complacent with your child’s poor naps before trying to fix the problem. If you child is under age 4 and naps have become few and far between, take a solid 7 days and move up their nap to 12:15-12:30 and see if it that helps the nap to come back. Remember this doesn’t happen over night – you must stick with it for a week before deciding it is working or not. After all most 3 year olds still take a daily nap. According to Dr. Weissbluth, a nationally renowned pediatrician and child sleep expert, at age 3, 92% of children are still napping!