My toddler won’t nap aka How do I get my two year old to take naps aka When should my toddler be done with day time naps aka My twenty month old doesn’t want to nap anymore and Mommy is going crazy from not having a break all day WHAT DO I DO?????
Okay folks, I’m no expert here but we’re muddling through changes in Graham and Miles’s schedule and today I had a break through I want to share. They want to play, they do NOT want to nap. Mommy also wants to play but Mommy NEEDS them to nap. So after about two weeks of off and on nap time successes here’s what I’ve concluded. Granted right now both of my twenty-one month olds are upstairs jumping around and giggling instead of napping in their cribs but with some successes here’s my solution on how to get your toddler to sleep.
1) Pick a schedule and stick with it.
Once Graham and Miles went from two naps to one I had to figure out a new nap time that would work for them. Too early and it’d be a crying, tantrum, afternoon. Too late and they’d sleep past dinner time and run into bedtime. After a little experimenting we picked a nap start time of 1:00.
Typically they will sleep for an hour and a half, sometimes when we’re lucky they’ll sleep a full two hours or longer. But an hour and a half is standard. So now with my new resolution to pick a schedule and stick to it I put the boys in their cribs for nap time at 1:00. If we’re out of the house then I try to get as close to this as possible. We’ll have lunch around noon, a little play time and then up to their cribs. They get a fresh diaper and a stack of books to look at. If they jump around and talk to each other the whole time then so be it. But there’s no negotiating their way out of the crib. (UP! UP!) If they have a poopy diaper I’ll change them but then it’s back to their crib. If they eventually wear themselves out and fall asleep then victory! If not then they can get out of their cribs at 3:30. At that point we typically move up their bed time to 6:30. Graham and Miles wake up around 7:30 every morning regardless of what time they go to bed. So the earlier bed time helps them catch up on sleep.
2) Pick a routine and stick with it.
If you do something different every day then they won’t know what to expect. If one day you give them a book to look at but the next you don’t then it messes with their routine. For me it’s giving them a stack of books and then being suckered into giving them more. They’ll look through the books and then toss them out of their crib and start crying BOOOK BOOOOK. They just want one more book to look at. Or is it that they just want Mommy back in their room again?
So I started a new routine. I told Graham and Miles “You each get a stack of books to look at and have quiet time. If you get sleepy, lay down and close your eyes. If you toss all your books out of your bed then you’re done. No more books until after 3:30.”
The first day was REALLY noisy, more books BOOKS BOOKS! But when I explained to them again that they had a stack of books and decided to throw them out of their bed, no more books, time to be quiet and rest, they actually settled down. It took some time but they realized I was serious. After that day there hasn’t been any more begging for books.
3) Don’t let your toddler sucker you out of the above steps.
Remind yourself of the routine and tell your toddler the rules. Say to them “You got a book and decided to throw it so you’re done with books.” or whatever is applicable to their situation. You’ll break the cycle of whatever is keeping them from getting their nap and eventually they’ll learn that you mean business.
4) Hold your ground.
Don’t back out of the decided on plan or they’ll just pounce on your weakness and you’ll have to start over! Often your toddler is just going through a lapse in their routine behaviors and if you change things around it will take even longer to get back on task. Remember, toddlers need routine and consistency.
5) Eventually they’ll be out of their rut and back on track.
After a week of rough nap times, Graham and Miles are finally settling back into a predictable nap time. It’s been rough but knowing it’s just a phase has helped us (hubby and I) stick with the plan. I know the boys need their sleep and it’s important enough to me that I get a break in my day that I’ve been diligent with our routine.
You can do it!