Daytime naps are responsible for many home-front battles. Mention the word sleep to a busy toddler and you can expect an emphatic NO at the very least.
Most children under the age of three still need a day sleep – but for how long will vary from child to child – and often from month to month.
As your child grows, it can be hard to keep up with their evolving sleep needs. Generally, children begin to consolidate their daily sleep time around 18 months, going from two 60-minute naps to one 90-minute nap.
Between the ages of two and three, that 90 minutes begins to dwindle and before you know it, your child is refusing the close their eyes at all.
The transition period can be difficult for both you and your child. If your child doesn’t feel sleepy at naptime but falls apart around dinnertime – try changing naptime to ‘quiet time’.
Spend about 30-45 minutes doing quiet activities such as drawing, reading, or puzzles. This gives both of you a chance to rest and recharge. Move up dinnertime and bedtime, and look forward to a quiet evening.
Why Do Children Resist Day Sleeps – Even Though They Need Them?
While the idea of snuggling up for a few mid-afternoon ZZZ’s may be very appealing to you – your child probably doesn’t see it that way.
Every day is filled with exciting adventures to the busy toddler. Even though their bodies need sleep, they’d much rather be out exploring the world.
Toddlerhood is also the age of autonomy and power. Children this age often do the opposite of what Mum and Dad want, to fulfil their need to assert themselves. Resisting a nap by throwing a tantrum or employing other delaying tactics is a common way for children to establish their independence.
A scaled-down version of your child’s bedtime routine is helpful for settling them for a nap, but avoid getting too involved. Parents can unwittingly create additional sleep problems by doing too much to persuade their child to have a nap.
It’s easy to get caught in the trap of elaborate pre-nap rituals that take almost as long as the nap itself!
If you find yourself in this position, downscale your routine little by little over 2-3 weeks. Stay firm against objections – if your child is verbal enough to complain, they’re verbal enough to understand a simple explanation for why things have to change.