How to get your toddler to nap? Although your strong-willed toddler hates to admit it, he still needs a nap at least once during the day. But that doesn’t mean he wants it.
Getting him to stick to his routine rest can be challenging, even though you can see he’s exhausted and irritable.
Here’s a step-by-step plan to help beat the nap time battle.
Establish a time
Your toddler’s needs change constantly, yet you can be sure he still requires a nap. The best way to make the process tear-free is to establish a consistent time. So if you know that he usually becomes tired around, say, early afternoon, then schedule to put him in his cot at that time.
Follow the plan
Stick to the nap routine, even if some days he doesn’t seem particularly tired at that time. If you always wait until he’s so exhausted that he cries, you’ll have a struggle on your hands each day. The more regular the pattern, the less your baby will resist when it’s time for a nap.
Read a story
When the time for his nap approaches, create a calm atmosphere at your house. He’s less likely to go for a rest if he’s very excited or in the middle of a stimulating activity. Relaxing activities such as playing quietly with a toy or listening to a story will help settle him. Start this calming process at least 10 minutes before his nap normally begins.
Keep to a routine
A pre-nap practice is also helpful because, as this pattern of events becomes firmly established in his mind, he knows the first step means he’ll soon be tucked in. So your toddler is less likely to resist. The actual routine itself does not matter; what counts is that he follows a sequence of activities, which always ends with him going into his cot.
Persist despite his protests
Keep at it, even if he resists your thoughtful preparation. Stay calm, talk to him gently, but be determined to get him into his cot. Ignore his tears, change him and put him under the covers. Talk to him in a reassuring tone, even though you may feel very tense and irritable. His complaints will gradually ease once he realises that a nap is inevitable.
Leave the room
Once your toddler lies in his cot, with the bedroom curtains drawn, sit beside him and soothe him for a couple of minutes. Talk in a quiet voice to relax him further. You may find he’s closing his eyes and drifting off as he listens, or maybe he prefers to lie quietly with his eyes open. Give him a cuddle and kiss, and then leave the room. Move slowly and quietly.
Keep calm and reassure him
Should he start crying at that point instead of nodding off, keep him in his cot. Don’t try to play a game with him or offer a drink. You can be certain that if you get him out of bed at this point, he’ll refuse to go for a nap the next time, too. Calm and reassure him, then leave the room once more.