From:  Amy Blaikie

Tip:  To nap or not to nap?!

When you have children one of the top topics to talk, moan and worry about is sleep. Whether that’s naps or sleeping at night it’s at the forefront of any parent’s mind as their children go from baby to toddler to pre-schooler.

Here at First Steps, we feel part of this area of your child’s life, with most napping here on their days they are with us. So please see below a few top tips around napping!

Toddler naps

Toddler nap time – is this your moment of quiet, your chance to tidy up, get some housework done, or perhaps put your feet up or take a nap yourself? Whatever you use your toddler’s nap times for, I think you’ll agree that they’re precious moments – so how long will they last? When do toddlers stop napping? Is there a key age or time when’s best?

Are naps important still?

Night-time sleep is important, but daytime naps for little ones matter just as much. Naps give their bodies and minds time to rest and recharge. From a developmental perspective (language, cognitive and physical), sleep is extremely important, which is why newborns sleep so much as they go through big changes.

The key signs that your toddler is done with naps

There is a BIG window of time in which your little one will stop napping altogether and can be well before or after the averages. Each child is unique so no routine will work for everyone, but there are key warning signs to look for.

These are:

• They tell you – OK, this may seem obvious, but if they don’t seem tired when naptime comes, they may genuinely not need a nap.
• It takes longer to get them to go to sleep than they actually nap for.
• It takes a long time to fall asleep at bedtime – often linked to the last point – eventually napping later, your little one will wake later which has the knock-on effect of them not being tired at bedtime (something we all dread!)
• When they do miss a nap, they cope just fine and don’t seem exhausted or grumpy.
• They wake early in the morning and don’t settle back to sleep.

What age does this happen?

In general, most toddlers will stop needing their morning snooze between one and two years old, but will still need an afternoon nap. What we do here at First Steps is do nap time after lunch, which should allow all children to wake with lots of energy for playtime in the afternoon and be ready to sleep again at bedtime.

It’s likely that this nap will get shorter until, by three or four years old, they will drop this nap too. Of course, every child is different, and some will be far too busy and done with naps much earlier, while others will continue to need naps for much longer. Here at First Steps, we understand how vital sleep is for children and will work with parents to ensure their child gets the sleep they need. We will also work with you to help cut down on bad sleeping at night and help in any way we can to ensure its easier out of our care.

It is a journey to no naps!

Going from napping to no naps whatsoever does often take a little bit of a journey.  This journey will often look like days of napping once, napping twice or not napping at all. We notice here, as well as you at home that they will be struggling to stay awake at playtime, nearly snoozing at meal times or falling asleep the moment you click the car seat buckle.

Finally, they will all reach a point when they, and you, are ready to wave ‘bye bye’ to their last naps.

During this nap transition, you might have to adjust your little one’s bedtime (and possibly dinner time too) because, on the days when your toddler doesn’t nap, they will still need the same amount of sleep. Although you may be missing the nap time, you might find that what you miss in an afternoon nap, you gain in the evening with an early bedtime or in the morning as your non-napper sleeps a little later. But of course, some are programmed for an early morning wake or late bedtime and there’s nothing we or parents can do!

As parent’s and the whole team at First Steps know, life with a toddler is always a little unpredictable and likely to change completely in an instant. We hope you’ve found some useful tips to survive the nap transition.

We really would love to hear if you find our tips and advice useful, and/or you would like a certain topic covered – just let us know, please contact Ian on hello@firststepspoynton.co.uk or call 01625 859867.