Solving Nap Time Problems

Some families are blessed with children who love to nap and some of us aren’t. I fit into the latter group, and nap time has been an exhausting struggle at many different stages. My DD has been struggling with naptime again this week and just in time I got a reminder of these books. There are a number of books in the series covering topics such as sleep, naps, discipline and potty training. Here’s an excerpt from her No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers. I particularly like the chart as a reminder to me to look at the big picture of the total hours of sleep recommended for my daughter’s age:

The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Gentle Ways to Stop Bedtime Battles and Improve Your Child’s Sleep

BookBuy the book at Amazon: USA | Canada | UK

Solving Nap Time Problems
Naps are important for your child’s healthy mental and physical growth. A daily nap refreshes a child so that she can maintain her energy, focus, and ability to learn for the rest of the day. Studies show that children who nap are more flexible and adaptable, have longer attention spans, and are less fussy than those who don’t nap.

Does your child needs a nap?

Here are signs that your child would benefit from a daily nap:
* Wakes up happy, but gets whiny and cranky as the day progresses
* Has patience early in the day but is easily aggravated later on
* Cries more easily in the afternoon and evening than in the morning
* Has an afternoon or evening slump, but then gets a second wind
* Yawns, rubs eyes, or fusses while getting ready for bed
* Often falls asleep in the car or when watching a movie

How much naptime does your child need???
Children differ in their sleep needs ~ but what follows is a general guide that applies to most of them. Even if your child’s sleep hours add up to the right amount, his behavior tells you more than any chart could. When in doubt – always try for a nap, since even some quiet time can help a child feel more refreshed.

Average hours of daytime and nighttime sleep
Number of naps
Total length of naptime hours
Nighttime sleep hours*
Total of nighttime and naptime sleep
Newborns sleep
16 – 18 hours daily,
spread over 6 – 7
sleep periods. 
3 months
5 – 6
10 – 11
6 months
3 – 4
10 – 11
14 – 15
9 months
2 ½ – 4
11 – 12
12 months
2 – 3
11 ½ –12
13 ½ –14
18 months
2 – 3
11 ¼ -12
13 – 14
2 years
1–2 ½
13 – 13 ½
2 ½ years
1 ½ -2
11–11 ½
13 – 13 ½
3 years
1–1 ½
11 –11 ½
12 – 13
4 years
0 -1
0 -1
11–11 ½
11 – 12  ½
5-6 years
0 -1
0 -1
11 – 12
*These averages don’t signify unbroken stretches of sleep since night waking is normal.
© Elizabeth Pantley, The No-Cry Sleep Solution and The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers & Preschoolers (McGraw-Hill)
Timing and length of naps
The timing of naps is important, since a nap that occurs late in the day will prevent your child from being tired at bedtime. Generally, the best nap times are:
*If your child takes two naps: midmorning (around 9:00 to 11:00) and early afternoon (around 12:00 to 2:30)
*If your child takes one nap: early afternoon (around 12:00 to 2:30); after lunch
 If your child tends towards short naps, don’t give in and assume that it’s all she needs. Try these tips for increasing the length of naps:
·     Give your child a healthy lunch or snack a half hour before nap.
·      Keep the sleeping room dark.
·      Play soothing music or white noise during the entire nap.
·      Dress her in comfortable sleeping clothes
·      Make certain that discomfort from teething, allergies or other health issues aren’t preventing a nap. If you suspect problems, talk to your health care professional.

Watch for signs of tiredness
Tired children fall asleep easily, but when you miss the signals, they become overtired and are unable to fall asleep. Your child may show one or more of these signs that tell you he is tired and ready to nap – right now:
·          losing interest in playtime
·          becoming whiny, cranky or fussy
·          losing patience with toys, activities or playmates
·          having tantrums
·          rubbing his eyes or yawning
·          lying down or slumping in his seat
·          caressing a lovey or blanket
·          asking for a pacifier, bottle or to nurse
The nap routine
Once you’ve created a nap schedule that works with your child’s periods of tiredness, follow a simple but specific nap routine. Your child will be most comfortable if there is a pattern to his day. He may come to predict when his naptime approaches and willingly cooperate with you.

Nap routines change
Children’s sleep needs change over time, so remember that the routine that you set up today won’t be the same one you’re using a year from now. Be adaptable!

Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill Publishing from The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers (McGraw-Hill 2005).

{If you enjoyed reading Solving Nap Time Problems I would be tickled pink if you left a comment. To read more about my green(er) parenting aspirations, advice and adventures be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed or get updates via email.}


By Emi Stapler. I am a cloth diaper advocate, green parenting blogger, mother of three and a military wife who enjoys sharing my motherhood adventures and advice. Follow me at The Cloth Diaper Report on Facebook, Twitter @TheCDReport , Google +, Pinterest and Instagram.

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  1. Terra Jones says:

    That book was a LIFE saver for us!

    When I was 8.5 months pregnant with #2, my "oldest" (who was only 15 months at the time) decided he hated naps….ummmm no. I freaked out wondering what to do! The book helped us so much!

    …now, if he'd just figure out why in the world we're doing all we can to get him to sleep past 6am! lol

  2. Teresha@Marlie and Me says:

    Thanks for this! I am going through the sleep struggles right now and this advice is so helpful!

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