Don’t give up! Most kids resist naps at some point, but naps are extraordinarily important for young toddlers. Your toddler needs about 12 hours of sleep a night, plus one to two hours of daytime sleep, divided over one or two naps. You may need to tweak your toddler’s nap schedule, but don’t let his resistance tempt you to abandon naps all together.
Consistency is the name of the game when it comes to naps. Aim for a regular nap time, and build your schedule around your child’s need for rest, instead of hoping he’ll catch a few zzz’s between your errands and other activities. If your child is on a regular nap schedule at daycare, mimic that schedule at home, even if it means rescheduling certain activities. Otherwise, watch your child for signs of sleepiness and schedule his nap times to coincide with his sleepy periods. Watch for things like fussiness, a glazed look to the eyes or a general slowing down. Those are good signs, not just that it’s probably time for a nap, but that the ideal time for a nap may have already passed. If your child typically gets fussy around 1 p.m., try putting him down for a nap at 12:30 p.m.
Once you’ve figured out the ideal time, make it an everyday routine. Do something relaxing together, like reading a book or playing some quiet music, before laying your child down. A routine cues your child that naptime is here and helps him wind down and relax.
But beware: kids’ sleep needs change throughout the toddler years. Most kids will go from two naps to one sometime between the ages of one and two, and that transition time can be trying for all involved! Expect some nap-less days, despite your best intentions, and an erratic schedule, at least for the time being. Do your best to maintain a routine and encourage sleep, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get your little one to sleep. Your job is to create conditions that encourage sleep. If nap time turns into a battle, aim for a “quiet time” where your child can listen to an audiobook or music in a darkened room for an hour. If even that turns into a battle then give it up — for today. You can always try again tomorrow.
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