Naps to no naps: 9 tips to ease the transition

Hate dealing with a cranky tot who’s missed his afternoon siesta? Solve junior’s naptime issues with these tips.

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Since bubba’s arrival, there’s one moment in any new mum’s day when she can actually do some things or get some rest — when junior is sleeping.

Yes, naptimes are indeed precious when you’ve got a little one to care for. Mums often find themselves using this time to pump breastmilk, catch up with the laundry, prepare meals, or perhaps even catch some shuteye themselves.

Besides the downtime that naptime gives mothers, daytime siestas are also necessary for your toddler’s health. According to the National Sleep Foundation, toddlers between ages 1 and 2 require 11 to 14 hours of sleep, while preschoolers aged 3 to 5 need 10 to 13 hours of sleep.

Sleep expert and parenting coach Zoe Chu of SG Supernanny explains that toddlers who don’t nap won’t be able to achieve the right amount of sleep just from their nighttime sleep. “Good naps during the day will help fill up their sleep tanks,” she says. “If they nap well during the day, they will sleep better at night as well.”

Chu adds that good naps will help your child develop well mentally, emotionally, and adjust well socially. “Studies show that an overtired toddler will be cranky, throw tantrums easily and be hard to settle, become wired, and may often display signs of hyperactivity.”

So, how do you ensure that you’re on the right track when it comes to your tot napping? Use these tips as a guide.

1.          Don’t let them get overtired

Watch for signs that your sweetie’s nap is due and get him to nap as soon as you can. He may start rubbing his eyes, staring into space, or blinking more frequently than usual. He may get fussy or start demanding things irrationally. But don’t wait till he is overtired, as it would be harder to settle him then.

“You just got to ride it out with an overtired child. Some toddlers become so frustrated and overwhelmed with their tiredness that they simply don’t realise that only by napping can they get rid of the feelings,” Chu explains. Getting cranky and crying is how they express how tired they are, and how they release the stress that’s building up. “We should allow them to express it, rather than trying to distract them with toys or games,” Chu adds.

“Always use the same keywords like ‘sleep sleep’, or ‘naptime’.  Repetition will help your child develop a positive sleep association when it comes to naps.”

2.           Know how much he needs

Get tuned in to how often and how long your toddler needs to nap. “Every toddler is different, but a 1-year-old should still be getting at least two naps a day — one in the morning, and one in the afternoon,” says Chu. “After 16 to 18 months, they usually drop the morning nap and will only have one nap in the afternoon.” This last nap can last till the child is 3, or even 5 years old.

Ninety minutes is generally a good gauge for a restorative nap — anything shorter than 45 minutes, or longer than 2 hours can lead to junior fussing when he gets up.

3.           Decide on a routine

Consistency is key when it comes to getting your tot to nap successfully. Try putting him in a same environment for each nap — it could be a day bed in the study, or his crib in the bedroom, but keep that environment as consistent as possible, so that junior knows it’s time to rest and associate it with going to sleep.

Chu recommends giving your tot a two-minute warning before it’s naptime, then bringing him into his room. “Do a short story or lullabies, then into the bed. Always use the same keywords like ‘sleep sleep’, or ‘naptime’. Repetition will help your child develop a positive sleep association when it comes to naps.”

Even if your child doesn’t end up napping, you can just allow him to have his rest time in bed, and he will appreciate the winding down. “Some toddlers are so hyperactive that they rather be playing than napping. But as parents, you know what’s best for your child,” says Chu.