Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Nap Time

Lately, my one year old has decided to change his nap schedule, on a daily basis, it seems. He has been on the schedule of two naps a day, but that doesn't always happen. While I was in school, it was harder to get that morning nap. He saw different babysitters depending on the day, and they couldn't always get him to take a nap or their kids were on the schedule of taking a nap at that time. Since school has ended, we have tried to get back on our nap schedule.

It seems like the last couple of weeks have been really hit and miss when it comes to morning naps. So, I tried switching him to one nap a day, and that wasn't working either. We went back to two naps a day and some days that just doesn't work. I don't know if he is really ready to switch to one nap a day or if it's me pushing it so he will take a longer nap and I can get more done around the house. Either way it is a little frustrating for me because I am never sure how my day is going to go.

SO, how did you know your toddler was ready to switch from two naps to one?
How did you decide your toddler was ready for no nap, or did they decide for you?
How do you get your toddler to take their nap or naps?

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Tannie Datwyler said...

So I remember this pretty well! With my little girl it was always a debate on when I should cut out a nap.... We were doing 4 when she was a newborn, then down to 3 around 3 months, then down to 2 somehwere around 6 or 7 months. I am pretty sure she went down to 1 nap sometime around one year to 18 months (I honestly don't know when). My son is still going strong with 3 naps and he is 6 1/2 months old (I tried to give him two yesterday, but he didn't go for that). So I guess what I am saying is that ALL babies are different.... some need more sleep in the day and some thrive off short naps (like my little guy) while others take ONE long comatose nap. Just don't let a book or anyone else tell you how your baby should nap - that will only frustrate you. Also, don't force it on him, that will also cause immense frustration... believe me, I've been there.

To answer your questions:
I knew my toddler was ready for one nap when she started taking a LONG nap in the morning and started balking at taking a nap in the afternoon. So this is what I did. I would put her down for a nap in the morning when she seemed tired and then if she was really happy we skipped the afternoon nap and she went to bed a bit early. I distinctly remember that there was a month in which she took 2 naps every other day and then 1 nap on the other days. Though I can TOTALLY understand where you are coming from in not knowing how your day is about to go. That frustrating phase will pass when he transitions fully into one nap. My little one used to nap in the morning before lunch and eventually it just moved to right after lunch and now she goes down anywhere from 12:30-1:30 (depending on how our day is going and what her brother is doing). She is flexible, but that is enough of a schedule for her. It's important to keep those schedules and routines for most kids. But I am not strict - we live in a half our to hour radius on most things.

As for the second question - my toddler is 2 1/2 and STILL takes a nap in the afternoon. She went through a phase about 3 months ago in which she would stay in her room for 2 hours and play and not sleep at all (she did this 2-3 times per week). She would lay on her bed the whole time talking to her stuffed animals, reading books and singing. I was worried she was going to give up naps, but that phase passed and she now sleeps for at least 1-2 hours every day. I knew she wasn't ready to give up a nap though because by the time 5:00 rolled around she was a GROUCH and that is just too early to put a toddler to bed (at least mine).

As for the third question. When she was younger I would read her a story and then I would rock her and sing two songs. I would then put her in her bed and let her fall asleep on her own. This worked great! Now that I have my son, I can't focus on her as much for naps, but thankfully she is a stellar sleeper. So, we still read a story, and I sing her one song (with no rocking I'm usually holding the baby) and she goes right down. The other thing that has helped me is that she doesn't come out of her room until I'm ready for her to be done with her nap (hence, if she naps for 20 minutes, bangs on the door and wants to come out, I come in and tell her it is still nap time, I lay her back down and she usually does it - even if there are a few tears). This is a GENERAL rule and there have been times where I have let her out early. This is more for my own sanity than anything. I find that I am better mom if I have a break. I know that can seem REALLY rude and not all kids go for this, but my little girl is very accepting and usually doesn't ask to come out of her room until I come to get her. That bit of advice is so personal though - just something that works for me (the same rule applies to the morning - she doesn't get to come out of her room until 7:00, even if she wakes up at 6:00).

Now, one more thing - sorry Megan, this is my novel! :) When my daughter is ready to give up naps I fully intend to have her do "quiet time" in which she will be in her room alone, with the door closed and the lights dim for 1-2 hours. She is very good at playing alone and I know her room is safe. So in order to get time for myself I plan on doing this. She will be allowed to read or play quietly on her bed. My kids share a room a night, but when they are both napping the afternoon they are not together. My son naps in my room in his pack and play and my little girl naps in her room. I am not sure how long I'd keep quiet time going after she gives up regular naps... Again, she is only 2 1/2.

Good luck! I hope my comment helps instead of overwhelms. :)

Jared and Delia said...

Megan...I totally understand your frustration. I think that this phase is just that...a phase. My son went through this in between phase too. As you wait for him to move onto just one nap, you can maintain the nap he seems to favor or naps the best/longest at. Keep that as a standard in your schedule. As for the one that he is hit or miss with, you can just keep two alternatives open for that time frame. So if he takes it you have stuff lined up at home that you need to get done and if he doesn't then you have errands or something else ready for you to do.

I think every kid is different, but my child started to fight naps when he was ready to give it up. He currently doesn't take a nap most days, but I am going to reinstate quiet time like Tannie said, because he has been going through a growth spurt and has wanted naps some days but takes them at odd times. As he was getting ready to give up his only nap at about 3 1/2, he started to fight naps until 4 or 5 at night and then wouldn't go to bed until 10 or 11. That drove me nuts so I cut out his last nap for him and made his bedtime earlier (7/7:30). That has really worked great for us. My advice is to feel it out and find out what works best for you. And...remember that the only thing constant about kids is change. :) Just when you start loving a new schedule he will most likely be ready to change it again.

Jessie said...

I'm like Tannie, and don't remember when my older daughter went from two naps down to one, but I can tell you that my 14 month old daughter still needs two naps right now. She just barely went down from three to two a couple weeks ago, actually. I know this is not how my older daughter slept--by the time she was 14 months, I think she was down to two, probably only one, nap a day. But she also slept for more than 12 hours at night, and her nap was at least 2 hours long. Like everyone keeps saying, every child is definitely different in their needs, and you just have to follow their lead a little bit sometimes.

As for when to stop naps all together, my older daughter just turned 3 at the end of March. She pretty much gave up her nap in February, when we started potty training. She will still take naps occasionally, like twice a week, but not consistently like she used to. I miss those days. :) The hardest part about her giving up her nap is that I don't get a break for some me time--I would just put her in her room for some quiet time (and I do still do this fairly often), but I don't want her to disrupt her sister's nap. When I really need a break, though, I'll just let her choose whether she'd rather play on the PBS Kids website, the Disney website, or watch a movie. While this isn't ideal, I don't let her have too much screen time (the computer will only let her play for 2 hours, tops, before it locks her out), and this way we both know when she's had enough.

On your last question, how do you get your kids to take naps, the thing that worked for me was consistency. Trying to always do things around the same time, and the same way, keeping up with the routines we've established. And I just lucked out with pretty good sleepers, I guess.

Kelly A. said...

Megan~ I totally understand where you are coming from! I thought my little girl might be ready to transition to one nap at about 15 or 16 months because she started fighting her second nap. I switched her to one for a week or so, but she didn't sleep as long as she normally did with the two and she was acting tired before about an hour and a half before bedtime. I still waited a few days, but then tried going back to two to see how she did and she continued to take two naps like a champ! She takes two naps that are an hour and a half to two hours each and then goes down for the night at 8 and sleeps until about 7 the next day. And she's almost 18 months old. So it's hard to know what your little guy is wanting/needing and it may take you trying a couple things before you figure it out. To get my daughter to take her naps, I give her a sippy of milk and sing her a short song while I hold her and then she goes right down. Good Luck!!

On The Go Family said...

My daughter had a hard time switching from two naps to one. I knew we needed to make the switch when she would nap long and hard in the morning but then refuse to nap in the afternoon -- like someone above said.

To make the move progressively, you can try to shorten the am nap and see if that lengthens the pm nap. So my daugther would go down at 9 and I'd wake her up at 10. Then she'd go back down around 1 and sleep another 2 hours.

If that doesn't work, give the morning nap up entirely but move the nap to the middle of the day. For us, this meant eating a super early lunch (11 am) and going down around 11:30. That was a total bummer as it really cut into the day, but when I could make it happen, she'd sleep 11:30-2:30 and still be able to survive 'til bedtime.

Slowly, the start time for the nap crept back to 12, then 12:30 and finally around 1 pm. Like someone else said, the only thing constant about kids is change. :)