I am huge on routines in my own life just by nature so when I had my kids I knew I would be the same way with them too. We have always been strict on routines with our two kids especially when it comes to naps. My kids are the kind of kids that respond well to routine and naps. I know not all kids are the same so I am grateful my two like their sleep. On family vacations when we sometimes have to skip a nap or two I can really see how different and irritable my two get. They really can’t cope without a nap yet. It’s their way to recharge their batteries after a busy morning of hyper play. It’s also a time where Mommy can get the house work done and work on her business.
Soon B will not be taking naps anymore. It’s hard to say goodbye to naps for numerous reasons but as he is starting school soon it’s a must. To me, it just means he is really growing up and not a baby anymore. I look at him a little longer each time I walk in to wake him up from his nap. While sleeping he still looks so much like my little baby but I know he is almost four and these moments will be gone soon so I cherish each one.
While he moves onto being a little boy and no longer a baby, MM is still very much in the napping stages. She can’t cope with the afternoon if she hasn’t had her two hour nap. She isn’t as deep of a sleeper as her brother is but even quiet rest time in her cot, helps her. I know sometimes she sleeps for an hour and half and lays there for the other half hour having her own time. I think it’s important to have quiet time just as much as sleeping time.
If you want to get onto a routine and get your child napping regularly here are some tips to help out.
Helping Your Child Nap Better
In a child’s early development, rest and sleep are necessary for healthy growth. Kids develop quickly when they are very young, so they absolutely need naps and long nights of sleep in order to recharge and refuel. But if your child has decided that they don’t feel like taking a nap, how do you encourage the rest and recharge that you know they need?
Making Nap Time a Regular Thing
One of the best ways to ensure that your child is getting their recommended one to two hours of nap time every day is to make sure that nap time is a regular part of their schedule. This will ensure that they start to feel tired at the same time every day. This will encourage them to actually want to take their naps each day. Start the everyday ritual by reading them a nap time book to encourage them. Reading to children can often make them more relaxed and tired.
Having a routine like this may be hard if your child is the type to constantly try and get out of napping every day. Whatever you do, don’t let up on making sure your child gets their recommended hours of sleep each day. Every time they get out of bed, make sure they go back to bed and lie down, even if they don’t actually sleep. They will at least get some restful time in the dark and the quiet to recharge.
Let your child choose their own nap times at the beginning. Whenever your child starts to show signs of getting sleepy, that’s the time to put them down for a nap. Once you’ve figured out their natural rhythms, make that the norm.
Making Nap Time Fun
If you have trouble getting your little one into bed, come up with some unique ways to make nap time fun so that it will actually be something they look forward to. Here are some ideas:
- Make nap time a part of the game. If your child has been playing with a doll, have them put the doll to bed and read your child and their doll a story so that nap time all becomes part of playing house. If your child has been playing with toy soldiers, remind him that the soldiers need time to rest and recharge before the big battle.
- If they don’t want to lie down and relax, take a nap with them or at least relax with them for a little while as they start to calm down. Read your book while they rest on the couch or enjoy some cuddle time.
- Get them excited about nap time by getting them personalized gifts specifically for their naps, like personalized blankets with their name and favorite animal embroidered or a personalized story book about nap time. This will work especially well with preschool-aged children who are just starting to learn how to write their name. When giving them their new toy, make sure the toy gets associated with nap time. Give your child the toy right before nap time so they get all their excitement out before they should start calming down for nap time. But make sure they know they actually have to be in bed to play with their toy or use their new blanket. This will actually make them want to take a nap so they can see their new toy.
- Remind them of all the fun stuff they will be able to do once they’ve had their nap. Tell them there will be a snack waiting for them once they are good and rested.
One of the biggest challenges of getting your child to take a good nap is in getting rid of all the distractions that will prevent them from calming down. Turn off the TV well before nap time to promote a better quality of sleep. If you want to let them fall asleep in front of the TV, be sure to choose a relaxing show or movie and keep the volume very low.
Prevent older siblings from bothering them and waking them up by including the older children in the nap time ritual. Make them your little helper and give them a job to do like getting the baby’s bottle ready or finding the favorite blanket. It will make them feel involved and will give them the attention they are looking for so they won’t bother the baby to get attention from you.
The Benefits of Nap Time
There are lots of benefits for your child’s health in getting in some good nap time each day. Make sure your child is getting the health benefits they need to grow up healthy and bright. And of course, make sure you are getting the downtime that nap time gives you!
Some people don’t like to be tied down to a house or can’t stay in every day for nap time and we are one of those families. I think that once a routine is established and they are used to taking a nap the same time every day, it’s easy to alter it for on the go too. Even when we travel on the plane my kids still have their naps for the most part. I think this is widely due to us being consistent with nap times so their bodies are naturally used to it and ready for it when the time comes. We have had family days out, and naps in their strollers, and naps on planes and buses and even in long car rides then tend to drift off at the normal nap times. For me, if it doesn’t happen don’t get stressed out about it or it will just upset you both. It’s ok that things don’t always go perfectly smooth when traveling but we do try to keep our routines as much on the road as we do at home as it is so good for us all if we do. I have always been a firm believer in using nap time as much as the kids do to do what you need most whether that is to catch up on work and the laundry or taking a nap yourself. You know the old saying, “Sleep when the baby sleeps”. Well, it’s helpful as a parent we need to recharge our batteries too every once in a while so never feel guilty that you want to go crawl in your own bed and have a snooze too.