What to Do When Your Toddler Refuses to Nap

Children are our blessings. But, our blessings can often be a bit hyperactive. That's why nap time is crucial for both their and their parent's well-being. But, sometimes, when you suggest nap time, a little boy or girl full of energy doesn't want to be tamed. No worries, we have an answer to the question, "what to do when your toddler refuses to nap"? Sit tight, and let us reveal some pro tips and hacks.

Is there a recommended length of time for a toddler's nap?

Let's first start with the ideal scenario we all want to accomplish. A toddler's nap period typically lasts between one and two hours. Your youngster is doing well if they are sleeping longer at night. However, kids who nap extensively often have trouble sleeping at a reasonable hour or remain asleep through the night. That's wonderful if it works for your lifestyle, but if you'd rather sleep at night, you can easily switch to a daytime routine.

Cut the naps

Let's pretend your kid takes a lot of naps and your bedtime is 8 o'clock, but they're wide awake and talkative and don't go to sleep until 9:30. If this sounds similar, you might try cutting the afternoon nap by 15 minutes to get them to bed earlier. The same goes for putting your youngster to bed at 9 o'clock. If that's successful, you may cut naptime in half again and move bedtime forward by 15 minutes. That should make it easy to get your child into a routine you like. However, if your child becomes grumpy in the evenings, you may have shortened their nap too much.

Reevaluate the nap time in general

Not every child is the same. Nap times need to be reevaluated. If your child refuses to sleep because they are overtired, try putting them down for a nap 20 minutes early. Even though they don't look tired, many children fare better if they take their nap after two or three hours of play. That's like having lunch before you're hungry for it - you'll still feel hungry once you see the tasty lunch in front of you. Similarly, understanding your child's sleep schedule and adapting accordingly will help them enjoy their naps.

You need to pay special attention to this when a significant lifestyle change occurs. For example, when you're going through a long-distance move, you can expect it to affect your child's sleep schedule. Pro movers often say that it's important to maintain their routine in this big and life-changing process when moving long-distance with a child.

Some white noise won't hurt

Put on some soothing white noise in the background about half an hour before you want to nap to give your brain a heads-up that it's almost time to shut down and get some sleep. Once you've tucked your child into bed, turn on some loud, abrasive white noise to help them fall asleep. You may have to turn it on with more volume than a shower. Air filters and wave noises may seem soothing, but they are typically ineffective in lulling children to sleep because they are too gentle.

Place a lovey in the mix when your toddler refuses to nap

Babies benefit from having a lovey. Your child will feel more at ease through times of stress and sleepy time if they have one of these particularly stuffed toys or silky blankets to connect with. In addition, providing a lovey during nap and bedtime consistently acts as an excellent sleep trigger, much like white noise.

Do some sneaky and smart chit-chatting

Get the word out that your kid did well during nap time. As a parent, you may "gossip" by saying encouraging things aloud while your kid is around. Say something like, "Hey, Layla did a terrific job remaining in bed for her whole nap," to your significant other or even a stuffed animal. Overhearing praise is more effective than directly giving one to your child. They are more likely to believe it and want to hear it again. The 'confidential' chit-chat has double the effect.

Keep your child's room dim

Make sure your toddler's room is as dark as possible during nap time. Blackout curtains are fantastic because they prevent light from entering a room and reduce noise from the outside world (or, of course, a SlumberPod). This is why sleep consultants love dark rooms and always advise young parents to dim the lights in their toddler's rooms.

Spend some quality time together in peaceful play

Get some peaceful time in your kid's room by playing some silent games. Do this a few times daily, including 30 minutes before bedtime or a nap. As a result, you'll have an easier time getting your child to sleep where you need them to without worrying about them exclusively associating naps with their "un-fun" room.

What to do when your toddler refuses nap time - just breathe

Some deep breathing exercises before nap time will help calm your baby and set the stage for a restful snooze. This is one of the most vital parts of sleep training. Do some quick breathing with your child (two counts in, two counts out), and create a whooshing sound with each breath. As you inhale together, raise one hand and lower it gently as you exhale. As you do this, praise them for doing it right. Make sure to encourage them to do it often.

Final thoughts

All of the things mentioned above are little things you can incorporate into your daily life. These all have three crucial ingredients in common:

  1. understanding
  2. patience
  3. love

At the end of the day, that is all your little one needs. With a little of each ingredient, nap time will never be a struggle for you and your little one! Try out some of these tips and parenting hacks when your toddler refuses to nap (and before that). Then, enjoy the well-deserved 'me' time the way you like it and say goodbye to dark circles around your eyes.  


Angelica Williams

Angelica Williams is a child therapist specializing in problems with sleep. Equipped with the experience she gained while raising three boys and at work, she made her life mission to help other parents cope with everyday difficulties. When she's not working or blogging, she enjoys playing piano at the local jazz club and spreading joy that way as well.

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