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How to Make Toddler Naps Work

How to Make Toddler Naps Work

Numerous conversations on Circle of Moms reveal how common it is for nap time to become a struggle. Many toddlers resist daytime sleep even when they clearly still need it.

Whether your child is transitioning from one nap to two, or from two to none, the adjustment period can make everyone cranky! (I know — all three of my own children swore off napping long before their second birthdays.) Here are some of the most common questions Circle of Moms members ask about making nap time work for everyone.

Q:  My child used to fall asleep right away for a morning nap, but now it takes hours. Why?

It’s probably time to give up the morning nap. At just about a year old, this happened with DeeDee P.’s daughter. An easy morning nap suddenly became a “45 to 90 minute” battle to get her down. That kind of battle doesn’t do anyone any good.

Try moving from a set time for a morning nap to putting your child down to sleep after an early lunchtime. That way she's been up playing for a while and her belly is full. Or, if your child sleeps late in the morning, aim for a nap somewhere around four our five hours after she wakes up.


Q: How can I make sure her nap doesn’t affect nighttime sleep?

Though my middle son technically gave up napping, sometimes when he was two or three he’d crash on the couch or floor mid-afternoon. Not only was he a cranky bear when he woke up, he then wouldn’t go to sleep until really late at night!

Bedtime success seems to be all about the timing of the nap, as Bethany A. and Laura B. found. When Bethany's daughter napped from 1 to 4 in the afternoon “it affected her nighttime sleep,” and Laura's daughter's late afternoon nap made her perky at night as late as 10pm.

Circle of Moms members have some great tips about getting your child to sleep well during both the day and the night. Kristine suggests moving nap time 15 minutes earlier each day until it is closer to 12:30 or 1 pm.  Nicole H. advises not letting your child sleep too long.  

That’s what  I had to do with my son. Though it seemed counter intuitive to wake a sleeping child, limiting naps to no more than two hours seemed to make it easier for him to fall asleep at night.


Q: How can I get her to take a nap without nursing or using a pacifier?

Circle of Moms member Dede B. admits that by the time her daughter was nearly two, she had “created quite the anti-crib napper” by nursing her daughter to sleep. She had become “a walking human pacifier.”  

Justine, another member who has faced this problem, ended up moving her son to a bed, the novelty of which helped him fall asleep during nap time after a few minutes of cuddling. And Wendy W. replaced the bonding experience of nursing down to nap with cuddling, becoming her child's “human teddy bear."

Q: My child just wants to play in her bed or get up during nap time. What do I do?

Plenty of moms fret that their tots spend their naps playing in their beds or cribs rather than snoozing. I tend to see this as more of a blessing than a curse (not all of my kiddos were content to play by themselves in their cribs), but I do understand the frustration of watching a sleepy child fight sleeping.

Alison M. solved this problem by returning her son to bed every time he got up, without talking to or engaging him. It wasn’t easy, but she says it worked for her in the end.

Other moms simply let their children play quietly in their beds until they fall asleep. That’s what Liz V. did with her toddler, and reassuringly, her son “absolutely always fell asleep.”

Related Reading

Bye-Bye, Siesta: How and When to Retire Your Child's Nap

The Day My Toddler Wouldn't Nap Anymore

Image Source: Photo: Amanda Morin

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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