What to Do When Your Toddler Won’t Take a Nap

What to Do When Your Toddler Won’t Take a Nap

Every child is unique, and that applies to sleeping habits as well. While most children younger than three years old need naps, there are other children that don’t. What’s most important is how many hours sleep a child gets overall in a whole day, so some children like just a little 30 minute “catnap” but will sleep 11 hours at night. Other children need 2 hours of napping in the day and because they only get 8 hours at night.

Newborns will typically sleep several hours a day for short periods of time. As they get older, the time that they spend sleeping consolidates so that most of their sleeping happens at night with one or two longer naps during the day. If your child is taking two naps per day, eventually they’ll start taking one longer nap, and then they’ll stop altogether once they’re getting enough sleep at night to power them through the whole day. However, until that day comes where naps are no longer needed, here are some quick tips to help your toddler take a nap.

Make It a Habit

If possible, try to make naptime a part of your child’s routine. For instance, you can incorporate a quiet but fun activity before their naptime, similar to reading them a story at night. Coloring, simple arts and crafts, and puzzles are some forms of entertainment that you can try doing to unwind with your child. Likewise, active play should be avoided before naptime. You may be tempted to “tire them out” but in most cases, this just further excites them, which makes falling asleep nearly impossible. Once you have settled on something, stick with it! Repeating the process will naturally become a habit, and they will associate naptime with whatever it is that you decide to do together.

Take Care of Business

You’ve probably heard it before—your child needs something before they can fall asleep. Whether it’s a drink, a snack, the door left open, or their favorite stuffed animal, take care of it beforehand. By doing this, you eliminate any excuses your child can make for not napping.

Avoid Spoiling Them

Like we just mentioned, you want to avoid falling into the trap of creating bad pre-naptime habits. What may start off as a simple “work-around” to get your child asleep, turns into a ritual that lasts as long as the nap itself. For example, you may read your child a story before they nap every day (this is fine), but one day you decide to act out the story. Without realizing it, this afternoon theater routine has become the norm and is now required for your child to take a nap. The worse thing about falling into a naptime bad habit is that it can carry over into getting your child to sleep at night.

For more information on the web, visit healthychildren.org. If you have questions or would like to discuss any concerns you have regarding your child, you can schedule an appointment with me, Dr. Kathryn Mandal, by calling 817-617-8600 or scheduling online at continuumtx.com.

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