Updated: Sep 5, 2019
Help your little one keep up good naps. They may look like they are trying to tell you that they don't want to waste time sleeping when they could be playing... but should we believe them?
Its common to find that children around age 2 sometimes start to fight naps…. they resist going to bed and when they do get there they play and talk and do anything but have that nice refreshing nap.
So once you have explained how you would willingly wrestle wild bears to be given the chance to go to bed in the middle of the afternoon… and been laughed at, then its time to make a plan for them.
1) DON’T GIVE UP ON THE NAP. Although they are trying hard to give us every signal under the sun that they are ready to drop the nap…. We know better. Children really do need a nap into age 3, and some longer. At age 2, the nap need may vary from 1.5 to 2 hours but it is still needed so resist the temptation to drop that nap. It may seem Ok in the short term but you will be living on borrowed time as it will inevitably lead to creeping over-tiredness and all its associated symptoms…. early-rising, night wakings and generally disturbed sleep.
2) MAKE A CALMING ROUTINE that winds them down ready for a nap. Life is so exciting age 2… they are learning new things, playing is so exciting now, there is a world to explore.. so having a familiar routine that helps bring them down is vital as they will keep going like the Duracell bunny left to their own devices. They need us to encourage them into a calm frame of mind… books, songs, cuddles… all the familiar bedtime activities.
3) REVISIT SELF SETTLING. Even if your little one used to be good napper, they may now be battling. Maybe they never were great nappers which makes the problem seem worse but it’s time to try really hard with their self-settling and resettling if they wake after 30 mins or so. Settling and resettling are always hardest at nap time so be very consistent and match what you do at bedtime so they make the associations for sleep.
4) CHECK YOUR TIMINGS? Are you trying the nap when they are under-tired or over-tired? Children usually have a 30 minute sweet spot where going to sleep comes easily because they are the right level of tired.
If they are 7am-7pm babies then that time is usually around 12.30 ish. If they are also waking early because of over-tiredness then maybe pull that a little earlier to get them through the day, and then roll with an early bedtime so they are not awake too long and getting a second wind before bed.
5) BEWARE CATNAPS. Check the proper naps are not being sabotaged by unexpected cat naps e.g. motion naps/buggy naps that can happen randomly … they may not be planned but they may be taking the edge off the tiredness by the time we reach our real nap time. Obviously no one plans these naps but try to be aware so that they can be avoided if possible.
The main thing is perseverance as the naps are still definitely needed through age 2. So if you can nudge them back into a routine again then naps should stick until age 3+. By that time we do (sadly) have to let the naps go.
Good luck with those naps....