How To Get Your Toddler to Nap

Good Naps Prevent Fussing, Whining and Tantrums

Photo of mom and child

All toddlers can benefit from a daily nap, and most parents know that. However, the reality is that many children resist naps. Here's how to make naps happen in your house:

  1. Make naps a daily priority. Life can get very busy and there’s always a lot to do. But when daily errands get in the way of good naps, the result is a fussy child and a grumpy parent. It is well worth it to make daily naps a must-do.
  2. Give your child plenty of bright light and exercise in the morning. You can set your child’s biological clock so that he’s actually tired at bedtime. One key factor is to be sure your child has lots of physical activity and bright lights from his morning waking until lunchtime. A TV-watching spree in a dimly lit room will make her lethargic but unable to sleep well.
  3. Feed your toddler a nutritious lunch before his nap. The types of food your child eats can have an impact on his energy level. Certain foods can bring on relaxation, such as whole grains. On the other hand, junk food and sugar can cause a child to become wired and unable to sleep. Try to provide a healthy, balanced meal or snack before naptime.
  4. Pick a daily naptime and stick it with -- seven days a week. Putting your child to sleep at a different time every day plays havoc with his biological clock. When you are consistent, you’ll find your child’s daily tired spell will match up to naptime.
  5. Have a pleasant nap routine. Active toddlers can’t go from energetic playtime to sleep. They need some wind-down time and a routine can provide this.
  6. Provide music or white noise. The sounds of the house and the neighborhood can wake a napping child. You can counter this problem by playing sounds all through naptime, such as soft music or “white nose” (recordings of ocean waves or rainfall, for example).
  7. Don’t demand sleep – request rest instead. You cannot make your child sleep, but you can create a peaceful routine and a comforting environment that encourages good sleep.
  8. Take advantage of naptime. This is your time to take a deep breath and have a bit of me time. Read a book, catch up on paperwork or make a phone call. Better yet, consider taking a nap yourself – a twenty-minute snooze can refresh you.

Elizabeth Pantley is the author of many books for parents including The No-Cry Sleep Solution and The No-Cry Discipline Solution.

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