To nap or not to nap?– that is the question
Naps, believe it or not, are very important for young kids. It is accepted that sleep plays a key role in learning, memory and growth of a child. Naps, of course, give the parents a much needed break, too!! Sadly, naptime will not last forever, so make the most of them!
When to lose the snooze
Children differ quite widely in when they are ready to give up their naptime. Usually the naps stop sometime between ages three to five years but it can be quite normal for a 2 year old to lose the snooze time! My firstborn was one of the latter, much to my dismay, whereas my second son continued napping until he was 3 years old. When your child is starting to give up his naps, you can expect there to be some inconsistency. You may suddenly notice that in one week he only napped 3 out of the 7 days and in the next week maybe he napped only 2 out of the 7 days. And it might swing backwards and forwards for a while like this.
Keeping the nap
If your child skips a nap but then nods off on a drive or if you walk with them in a stroller, then maybe he is not quite ready to give up naptime. If this does happen, and your child drops off unexpectedly, rather wake them up by around 4pm so as not to sabotage his normal bedtime. If you notice that your child becomes irritable or unmanageable whenever they skip a nap, then the nap is in all probability still needed and you should set aside the necessary time for this in the daily schedule.
Some children really fight naptime, even though you know they cannot manage without it. This is thought to be because they want more say in what they do or don’t do at around 18-24 months and again at 36 to 42 months when major cognitive changes occur. So what do you do if your child refuses to nap but becomes cranky, aggressive, misbehaves and is generally not himself but refuses to go to sleep? If you could just get him to lie down with you rubbing his back, he may nod off. Alternatively, what I used to do with my 2 year old who was adamant he didn’t need to sleep, was to let him listen to his audio tapes whilst lying on his bed. This seemed to settle him and at least he had a rest, if not an actual nap! Another route to try is to go for a walk with your child in his stroller – at least he rests and may actually fall asleep if you are lucky!!! If your child is not quite ready to lose the snooze, try trading nap times for “quiet times”. Put on a suitable movie or let your child play quietly in his room or even just snuggle up together and read him a story. Much to some parents’ surprise, this “quiet” time sometimes results in the child dozing off whilst watching a movie or having a story read to them!
Some daycares insist on a naptime for one and all and while some children seem able to cope with this but not napping at home, it is important for you to note that if the daycare naptime leaves your child unable to go to sleep at bedtime then it may be time for you to ask the daycare about substituting quiet time for naptime.
A lot of parents regret it when their little one’s naptime has finally become a thing of the past as now they have no “me time”. But I prefer to regard it as a time to celebrate! You are no longer a slave to naptime, having to be somewhere at a certain time so that your little one can have his nap! On the other hand you do lose those nice peaceful times when you can read a chapter of your novel, or do your nails!
Love to hear your thoughts and experiences with naptime! Leave a comment below or if you prefer, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Yours in lifestyle newborn photography