7 things to do when your young child won’t take a nap

April 02, 2020
  • 1 / 8

    Even though you have an afternoon nap routine for your toddler, you may find that it’s no longer working. Now, he just wants to play all day instead.

    His physical needs change – he has more energy and enthusiasm, and he starts to assert his independence. So he’d much rather stay awake and play than get his afternoon nap.

    The problem is, without that quick recharge, he can become tired – and irritable. Here’s how you can get him into bed.

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  • Adapt his nap routine
    2 / 8 Adapt his nap routine

    Six months ago, he slept for two hours just after lunch. Now he only needs an hour’s nap in the middle of the afternoon. So change his nap schedule to suit his need for sleep. Of course, he may still resist, but he is more likely to cooperate when the time for sleep closely matches his physical needs.

    Related: 6 reasons why your kid isn’t getting enough sleep, which affects his grades

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  • Follow the plan
    3 / 8 Follow the plan

    Stick to this nap routine, even if on some days he doesn’t seem particularly tired at that time. If you wait until he becomes so exhausted that he cries, you’ll have a struggle every day.

    The more regular this pattern, the less your toddler will resist when it is time for a nap. Routine helps his body prepare for a nap at that time, whether he is psychologically ready or otherwise.

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  • Keep everything calm
    4 / 8 Keep everything calm

    When his naptime approaches, create a calm atmosphere in your house. Your one-year-old is less likely to want to sleep if he is very excited or in the middle of a stimulating activity.

    Relaxing activities, such as playing quietly with a toy or listening to a story, can help settle him. Start this calming process at least 10 minutes before his daytime nap usually begins.

    Related: Toddler won’t nap: how to adjust sleep time

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  • Establish a pre-nap routine
    5 / 8 Establish a pre-nap routine

    When the pattern becomes firmly established in his mind, he understands the first step means he will soon be tucked up under the blanket. With that, your toddler is less likely to resist.

    The actual routine itself does not matter – what’s important is that he follows a set sequence that always end up with him going into his bed.

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  • Persist despite protests
    6 / 8 Persist despite protests

    If he resists despite your preparation, persist anyway. Stay calm, talk to him gently, but be determined to get him into his bed. Ignore his tears, change him and put him under the covers. Through all this, talk to him in a reassuring tone, even though you may be feeling very tense. His complaints will gradually ease once he realises a nap is inevitable.

    Related: 4 tips to help your baby fall asleep on his own

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  • Soothe him
    7 / 8 Soothe him

    Once your toddler lies in his bed, with the curtains closed, sit beside him and comfort him for a few minutes. Use a quiet voice so he feels more relaxed – he might close his eyes and drift off as he listens, or he might lie quietly with his eyes open. After that, give him a cuddle and a kiss, then leave the room slowly and quietly.

    Related: 5 ways to cope with lack of sleep after your baby arrives

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  • Keep him in his bed
    8 / 8 Keep him in his bed

    If your toddler starts crying instead of nodding off, don’t take him out of the bedroom. If you give in (such as giving him a drink or playing a game with him), he will refuse to go for a nap the next time, too. Calm him, reassure him and leave the room once more.

    (Photos: 123RF.com)

    Related: How to get your toddler to sleep in her own room

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