Nap time can be hard for kids, especially if they’ve already associated it with some unpleasant experience.
Which makes you wonder; can toddlers really love nap time?
Of course! Kids are not programmed to hate anything. So with a bit of tweaking of the mindset and adjusting habits and routines, your toddler can learn to love nap time.
Ready to learn more? Read on!
The Difference Between Sleeping and Napping
Before we dive into doling out the good advice, let’s tackle what sleeping and napping are:
Sleeping is that resting period when the mind is unconscious and the body is not active, usually occurring at night. It’s when your body goes into resting mode. Now, for kids, sleeping is essential. As they sleep, the pituitary gland release growth hormones, and these hormones help the body grow.
When you’re in deep sleep, this is also when your body goes into repair mode. Your body repairs the organs, the muscles, and other cells.
On the other hand, napping is simply a short sleep done during the day. It’s a response to drowsiness and just a time for us to take a break. Naps can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours.
Why Do Toddlers Need To Nap?
Now, for toddlers. Sleeping is just as important as napping. It’s so important that experts recommend that 2-year-olds should sleep at least 14 hours a day. Sleeping 14 hours might seem like a bit of a stretch and even a bit impossible to achieve, but that’s when naps come in.
As your kids grow and develop, having naps throughout the day helps them a lot. Their minds and bodies get to take a break from a long day and the big daily changes they face as they grow.
Naps also help avoid toddlers overtiring themselves. You might think overtiring a kid is a good thing, but it’s not. Overtiring your kids and not allowing them nap time during the day might make it harder to sleep at night. This can lead to tantrums and sleeping problems.
Naps are integral to a developing child and should be a crucial part of their daily routine.
How Many Naps Do Toddlers Need in a Day?
How many naps your child needs in a day will heavily depend on their sleep pattern at night. For example, if your child is sleeping longer at night or has no trouble sleeping, they can do shorter naps. But if your child is sleeping less at night, maybe a longer nap time will help them.
Some kids will take two naps a day, one mid-morning and another in the afternoon. Some toddlers do fine with one nap session a day. Find something that you’re comfortable with.
Also, take into consideration the time they nap. If your kid is taking naps at 5 PM (Which we think is a bit late), that might push back his or her sleeping time.
Regarding how many hours a day, toddlers will nap for an hour up to 3 hours a day.
How To Tell If Your Toddler Is Well-Rested
Before getting your toddlers to nap, you have to know if your child is getting enough rest. If you’re just putting your child to sleep or making them take naps but not checking on whether they’re well-rested, you might just need to take a step back and reevaluate.
If they’re exhibiting any of the following, then that’s an indication they might need more sleep or nap time during the day:
- Fussy behavior, moodiness, or being upset for no reason
- Sleepiness during the day
- Night terrors
- Memory problems
- Learning problems
- Problems with showing or regulating emotions
- Decreased social skills
- Problems falling asleep or staying asleep
How To Make Sure Your Toddler is Well Rested
If your toddler or kids show signs of lacking rest, it’s not the end of the world. This is where nap time comes into play.
To make sure that napping becomes a part of your kid’s daily schedule, all you need to do is follow these simple pieces of advice to help your child:
Napping at home can be a challenge for some, but it doesn’t have to be. There are a few things to keep in mind so your child can successfully nap at home:
Keep the Routine Consistent Every Single Day
This is absolutely key. When your child sleeps and naps at the same time every day, it comes much easier to them. It’s because the body clock is programmed to accept drowsiness at predictable times. The more consistent the nap sched is, the better the nap time is for your young one.
If your little one goes to daycare, keep your nap time at home the same as the nap schedule there.
For this to be effective, wake your child up at the same time every day, and keep their nap and sleep schedule as consistent as possible.
Burn Any Extra Energy Before They Nap
Toddlers are pure balls of energy; they have a lot. For your child to be able to nap later in the day, the morning has to be spent burning off that energy.
Have your kids play outdoors, run in the yard, or ride a scooter around the block or to the neighborhood playground. The fresh air and natural light will also do wonders for your toddlers.
If it’s raining, spend 15 minutes outside just so your little one can let pent-up energy out. If it’s pouring, indoor activities like painting, puzzles, building blocks, and more will be enough to get them going.
Try to avoid giving them screen time if they haven’t napped yet.
Restrict Sugar and Screen Time
A bit controversial but screen time and processed sugar just make sleeping harder for kids. Experts always recommend kids have the opportunity to run and play each morning so they can accept nap time better. 24/7 screen time and sugar just prevent him or her.
Of course, it’s not a permanent thing. You can always limit screen time and giving out sugary food. Observe how it affects their sleep and nap, and adjust.
Use the Same Sleep Space
Toddlers who have a spot where they nap every day help maintain consistency. If your child regularly rests on their bed, automatically, they’ll know what you want them to do when nap time comes closer. Plus, there’s a less likely chance they’ll fight you during nap time.
Let Your Toddler Know
Lastly, communication is vital. Your child might not speak much at this age, but they can understand. So make sure you communicate your expectations. Let them know when nap time is, and when it’s near. Make your child realize that napping will be a regular thing and is non-negotiable. Make them understand the importance of napping by way of stories. Just make sure you communicate all this in a firm but pleasant manner.
If your toddler is in preschool, a bit of adjusting will have to be done. Don’t worry; just because they’re going to daycare means they’ll never get the chance to sleep. Here’s what you can fo to make sure your child gets enough nap time at preschool:
Choose A Daycare That Values Sleep
Your first step is to find the right daycare that understands the value of sleep. Find the one that best works for you and your child. Interviewing the school's management allows you to ask questions about nap times and your child's education. Check if they have routine schedules or can also accommodate individual needs.
Help Them With The Transition
Changes can be scary for toddlers, especially when it’s time to go to preschool. The environment is unique and different, so make sure to be there during the first week to help them. Another option is to visit the daycare center before school begins together. You can find out more about the room and find ways to make it more comfortable for your child. You can also show them where they’ll be napping.
Bring Things From Home That Helps Them To Sleep
Kids are prone to have sleep aids—things like stuffed animals or a fave pillow. Include their sleep buddies in their bags before heading out to school.
Find A Children's Book About Napping Away From Home
Books are practical tools for teaching children about important topics. A book about napping gives you the chance to tell your child how important it is to nap to keep them happy and healthy. It also gives them enough energy to play more after their quick nap. Read it to your toddler at home before nap times to slowly introduce the idea of nap times at daycare at the same time.
BONUS: Nap Pockets
Comfort is everything to a child. You wouldn't want to have them sleep on some hard mat at daycare now, would you? Plus, kids love owning something that is genuinely theirs. So Nap Pockets are absolutely wonderful for toddlers at preschool and even at home. What are Nap Pockets?
Nap Pockets are a cozy blanket and mat cover perfect for toddlers. The blanket and mat cover is attached to ensure that there won’t be any missing blankies when your child comes home from preschool.
It’s easily portable and fits into a backpack nicely.
Nap Pockets add fun to a child’s nap time, encouraging them to take the rest needed. You can also use Nap Pockets anywhere; at home, at preschool, and when out for the day.
Remember how we said that a consistent nap place for a child would help them adjust better to their nap schedule? Well, Nap Pockets can do the same! As long as they associate their Nap Pocket with napping, it becomes easier for both of you!
Our Nap Pockets are the perfect sleep buddy for your kids, so make sure you check out the Nap Pocket Collection we have below:
Sharks and Alligators Nap Pocket
Are you looking for more? Check out the Amadora Sheets collection and the Quilts collection from Where The Polka Dots Roams.