6 Common Toddler Sleep Problems—And How To Solve Them
"Will skipping a nap help my toddler sleep better at night?"
Naps are your best friend when it comes to keeping your cheeky little one healthy and happy. They help restore energy, boost memory, improve mood, foster attention, reinvigorate the immune system, and keep stress at bay. Not to mention, they give Mum and Dad a much-needed break! Sweet dreams; overtired toddler tantrum be gone. |
However, as blissful as that sounds, toddler naps can sometimes be a source of tension, too, and it can be tricky to strike just the right balance of daytime sleep. Here are some common napping questions … and some answers!
My toddler fights their afternoon nap … should I just let them ‘cry it out’?
The cry-it-out method is tough to use for naps because some tenacious tots will wail for 30 to 60 minutes. By then, naptime has passed and everyone’s a little grumpy. So even if you are using or have used ‘cry-it-out’ at night, I’d avoid it for naps.
Once your toddler masters night sleeping, it’s likely their day sleeping will get better too! But if not, try the twinkle interruptus method of sleep training.
My toddler is alert and having fun … can naptime wait until they are sleepy?
Don’t wait until your love bug “looks sleepy” (this applies to night time sleep, too!). Your tot will sleep longer if you put them down before they are overtired. Once they start rubbing their eyes and yawning, you may have already missed the window a bit.
My toddler’s naps are too long. How do I change their schedule?
If your tot naps for a long time and also sleeps well at night … congratulations! You hit the parental jackpot. But it’s more likely that kids who nap a long time during the day need a later bedtime … or wake more often at night.
If you want to shift your child’s sleep schedule, try shortening their afternoon nap by 15 minutes and start their bedtime routine a little closer to the time they actually fall asleep. If that goes well, shorten their nap again and move their bedtime another 15 minutes earlier.
Overtired toddler tantrum: Why is naptime such a battle?
The main reasons your toddler may fight you when it comes time to nap are either they are overtired or they are overstimulated.
If you notice that your tot gets really tired during the day (dozes in the car, slumps over before naptime rolls around, is cranky at dinnertime), try putting them down to nap 20 minutes earlier.
If you think your tot is overstimulated, implement a wind-down routine. Thirty minutes before naptime, engage in quiet play and play soft white noise—this will give your little one a clue that sleep time is coming. Then, for the nap, make sure the room is dark and put on some rumbly white noise.
Will skipping a nap help my toddler sleep better at night?
There’s only one way to know for sure how skipping a nap will affect your tyke: Go the whole day without a nap. Most likely, they’ll be fussy, tearful, or explosive come evening – this is because your tot’s stress will build and build throughout the day without a stress-busting nap to relieve some pressure!
How will I know when my toddler’s ready to go from one nap to none?
An early sign that you’re nearing the end of your naptime days is when your child sleeps at preschool or daycare but skips it on the weekend. For most kids, this last nap hurrah happens gradually – they’ll nap some days and not others.
Eventually, your tot will switch from naptime to afternoon quiet time. When your toddler gives up her last nap, they’ll run out of steam earlier in the day, so you may need to move bedtime or dinnertime up an hour.
Surprisingly, four-year-olds tend to hit the hay earlier than 18-month-olds! Once napping is finished, that’s how they’ll get the 10 to 12 hours of sleep a day they need.
Dr. Harvey Karp is the founder of Happiest Baby and one of America’s most-trusted paediatricians. His highly innovative and celebrated books/videos, The Happiest Baby on the Block, The Happiest Toddler on the Block and The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep have been translated into dozens of languages and have made him one of the world’s most renowned baby and sleep experts. Dr. Karp’s breakthrough discoveries —the calming reflex, the 5 S’s and Toddler-ese — have benefited millions of parents and are taught by thousands of specially trained educators in over 20 nations.
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