What To Do When Your Toddler Won’t Nap

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Sooner or later, it happens: your toddler decides she’s outgrown her nap time.  What happens if she’s really not ready(or you aren’t ready) for this to be the case? 

Some children never give up naps and have to be weaned off of them when they make the transition to kindergarten.  Other children decide that they no longer want to take naps during their toddler years.

Be Flexible

As your child grows and changes, her sleeping needs will grow and change too.  Just because she decides she doesn’t want to sleep mid-morning doesn’t mean that she isn’t ready for a nap come mid-afternoon.   Consider changing nap time or trying a different time. 

Your child should give you clues like rubbing her eyes, acting tired, or becoming crabby and cranky.  These are signs that she really is tired, even if she tells you that she isn’t.  If your child begins to nap later in the day, it may mean that bedtime needs to be moved back as well.  When deciding on a bedtime for your child, keep in mind that toddlers need at least 8-10 hours of sleep per night.  If you have to get up at 6am to get to work on time, this will affect your child’s bedtime.

Keep The Routine

It’s important to have some sort of routine for nap time just as you have a bedtime routine.  Your routine may include reading a nap time story, or letting your child watch a TV show or DVD before putting her to bed.  This should stay the same no matter what time nap time is.

Be Consistent

Even if your toddler fights going down for a nap, you should still try to get her to nap.  If your child learns that she can get out of a nap by throwing a temper tantrum, she will begin to throw a temper tantrum every day.  Be consistent and be careful as to the kinds of behavior you are rewarding and encouraging.

Be Creative

Even after your child outgrows her nap time, it’s still important to have some “quiet time” during the day when she can rest.  This may mean having a time where she quietly plays in her room or time when she reads by herself in her room.  I find that my children do much better if they have quiet time(or down time) each day, even though they are now teens.  The school actually has quiet time scheduled into their school day as “silent reading time”.  During this time, the children are expected to read a book that they’ve brought from home or gotten at the library.

Nap time is important, and even when your child outgrows this time, you should still try to have some quiet time scheduled for your child during the day.  Both you and your child will benefit!


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