Toddler Naptimes

April 2, 2010 9:39:11 AM PDT
Now that Luke is 3-1/2, he doesn't want to miss a thing, especially during naps.

He wants to ride his bike, go on nature hikes, do arts and crafts and NOT nap, no matter how tired he gets. We've given in a few times thinking: "maybe he's grown out of his naps." But, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the non-nap Luke turns into a monster by dusk. The happy-go-lucky youngster becomes a mean, sister-hitting whirlwind; a sign he still needs that afternoon nap.

The problem, too long of a nap, means getting him to bed at night is an exercise in frustration. Then he goes to bed late, wakes up tired and we begin a vicious cycle. So, my husband and I have found that, after an hour (90 minutes, max) we need to wake Luke out of his peaceful mid-afternoon slumber.

At 2-years-old, Emma is easy and often admits to being tired and even climbs into her crib on her own. We let her nap as late as she wants. She needs the sleep.

Pediatricians say a child's sleep requirements are as different as each child himself. My son's best friend no longer takes naps. His mother has replaced it with an hour of "quiet time," in which he snuggles up on a couch with a blanket with some books or a television show (I, personally, recommend the books.) Then, at 7:30, his mom is texting me bragging that her children are asleep in bed. At that time, Greg and I usually have just embarked on a 90-minute ritual of getting Luke and Emma to bed!

Sooner or later, Luke WILL grow out of him naps. But, as long is the non-napping Luke turns into a monster, we will enforce naptime. It CAN take a while. He wants us to lie in bed with him and read several books (he always picks the long ones.) I've found, the best way for him to fall asleep is if he thinks I'm asleep (or, if I have fallen asleep.) Then, once he falls asleep, I quietly get out of his bed and leave.

I'm sure experts would frown upon that technique, saying the child must learn to get to sleep himself. But, it makes my life easier, gives us some nice snuggle time and serves an even-higher purpose: I get a to take a nap. And, on certain days, that can keep MOM from turning into a monster.

Sweet dreams, Cecily