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6 Naptime Rules That Will Improve Your Toddler's Sleep

In the early months, your baby slept happily during the day, giving you some precious time to do the washing, cleaning, catching up on what you missed (if only!) But now you’ve reached the toddler years when the baby is starting to protest at the very mention of the word bed. Gah!

The amount of sleep varies from toddler to toddler! ‘As a rough guide a toddler should be having around two hours nap a day and 11 hours sleep during the night,’ says Vicki Dawson, founder of The Children’s Sleep Charity.

Fine when your little one is happy to toddle into their room for 40 winks, but what happens when an older toddler starts refusing to nap during the day? ‘It’s normal for some children to be ready to drop the day time nap by around the age of three,’ she explains. Whether you’re thinking of dropping the nap or you’re desperate to make day time sleeping that little bit easier, our toddler naptime rules will help make sleepy time = happy time!

1. Be consistent
  • Try to keep nap times roughly the same every day to help get your toddler into a routine and make sure they’re always in the same place. ‘Ideally the place where they sleep at night,’ says Vicki.

    Also, get your toddler used to doing the same activities before bed. If he knows he always sleeps after lunch, he’ll expect it and it will make enforcing a nap easier.

2. No afternoon zzz
  • Naps taken in the late afternoon can impact on your toddler’s night time sleep, so if possible try to avoid letting them have a late afternoon snooze. As the consequences of  this afternoon nap, it can lead to a the chaos before bedtime.

3. Wind down
  • Just as you wind down to bedtime, it’s a good idea to adopt the same approach to naptime. Try having some quiet time with your toddler in his room reading a book. If he feels calm and not too stimulated he’s more likely to be receptive to having a nap.

4. Don't shorten sleep 
  • ‘Many parents falsely believe that if they shorten naps during the day, their child will sleep for longer at night, but this isn’t true,’ says Vicki. ‘A sleep deprived toddler is likely to become distressed and this can lead to it being difficult for them to wind down at bedtime.’

5. To nap or not to nap?
  • Follow your little one’s lead. Acting up at bedtime, going to sleep later each night and the mention of bed time becoming stress central are all key signs. Try cutting out his nap one or two times and see if that solves your problem.

6. Have a detox
  • Made your mind up to ditch the daytime nap? Ease yourself in gently rather than going cold turkey. Cut out the naps on three or four days a week first, then five, then six and so on, until they get used to not having their day time snooze at all. Cutting it out all at once can be too much of a shock to your toddler’s system. 


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